Scott Willis

Host, Reporter, Producer

I’ve always been enamored with the intimacy of radio.  It’s so personal.  It forces you to listen…and listen only.  No visual distractions.  I grew up listening to mostly top 40 radio in Detroit, with no shortage of entertaining DJ’s.  As a teenager, I discovered the area’s all news station.  I loved knowing what was going on, and the intensity with which they told stories.  I often wondered what it would be like to be the first to know what was happening, and then tell others.  Maybe that’s why I pursued a career in news. 

I would go on to serve as an intern at that all-news station, and it was amazing and maybe a little overwhelming to see what it took to put out a constant stream of news.  But something was missing.  It wasn’t until after I graduated from college that I actually discovered Detroit’s public radio station at my alma mater.  What a difference!  You had time to write and tell engaging, meaningful stories, to be creative, all without the pressure to constantly crank out the news.  Quality over quantity.  That’s when I knew public radio was for me.  I was hooked.

I would hone my skills on and off for almost three years at WDET as an intern under the tutelage of a patient Assistant News Director. I produced daily stories for newscasts, but also was given the privilege of producing long-form features on topics that interested me, and that people knew very little about.  Now THAT was cool.  Right up my alley.  What budding reporter could ask for more?

I landed here in Syracuse in June 2001.  Today, I’ve come full circle, and now teach the craft to more than a dozen student reporters per week.  We work hard to choose informative stories, find the most engaging sound, and edit copy for clarity and accuracy. 

Outside of work, I spend time with my wife and little boy.  We like to take walks, travel, and read.  When I can, I’ll hop on my bike for a quick ride.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the honor and privilege of bringing WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners the news of the day during All Things Considered.  Thanks for listening.

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HISTORIC PRESERVATION
12:05 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Historic Mansion Returning to its Former Glory

The front of the Babcock-Shattuck House facing E. Genesee St.
Scott Willis WAER News

A vacant, boarded-up mansion that held a gloomy presence over the corner of East Genesee and Westcott streets for years now shines as an example of historic preservation.  The exterior of the former Babcock-Shattuck house is all but finished, and work has shifted inside.  Plumbing, electrical, and heating and cooling are mostly installed, and framing is ready for drywall.   The Queen Anne-style house was built in 1895, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

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EARTH DAY 2014
6:23 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Calling Attention to Climate Change for Earth Day

Credit Greening USA

 Central New Yorkers might see some new billboards and other messages next week urging people to think of the consequences of climate change and to do something about it.   Local organization Greening USA is launching an advocacy campaign on Earth Day to raise awareness about the impact of climate change.   Advocacy Committee Chair Peter Wirth says climate change is  more serious than most people think.

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CONSTRUCTION SEASON
6:10 pm
Wed April 16, 2014

City Launches Website to Inform Drivers of Road Work

Road work downtown on West Fayette Street (facing east), in Armory Square
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Since the first big thaw swept through the Syracuse area, you've probably noticed the big orange signs for detours and construction.Road construction season is well underway in an around Syracuse, and the city is trying to make navigating the streets a little more bearable. City Hall has launched a new website to inform residents and commuters about delays and detours caused by road work.

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FLU SEASON
11:06 pm
Tue April 15, 2014

Flu Virus Lingers...in a Milder Form

Interim County Health Commissioner Michelle Mignano, left, and County Medical Director Quoc Nguyen.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Just when Central New Yorkers thought winter was over, it appears the flu season is also sticking around.  It's almost a repeat of last year – where one virus predominates the season, peters out and another strain replaces it, say Onondaga County health officials.   County Medical Director Quoc Nguyen says the H1N1 virus has faded, but influenza type B has been trending up during the past week. 

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PUBLIC SAFETY
11:27 pm
Fri April 11, 2014

Lawmakers Pressure Cellphone Makers, Carriers to Install Kill Switch

NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at Syracuse City Hall Friday with Congressmember Dan Maffei and State Senator Dave Valesky.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

It’s probably happened to some of us – we’re focused on checking email or texting on the go that we might not be aware of our surroundings.  Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said smartphone robberies are becoming more of a problem because it can mean easy money. 

“People who are on their smartphones often are distracted,” he said, “you know, if they’re listening to music or something. People just knock them over, grab [the cell phone], and it’s too easy.”  

NY AG Schneiderman explains how thieves cash in on stolen smartphones.

A rise in smartphone robberies is why Schneiderman and the San Francisco District Attorney began the “Secure Our Smartphones Coalition.” Unlike other cities, Syracuse is lucky and has yet to report any fatality due to cell phone robberies. However, Frank Fowler, Syracuse Police Chief, said phone thefts have risen in the past year. According to Fowler, they account for more than 1/3 of all robberies.

Robberies of any type of property places people in harm’s way. When we can discourage this type of robbery, we can have an opportunity to decrease our robberies by 35%, and that’s a great number.”    The "kill switches" would make the phones less appealing to thieves.  But Schneiderman says  there's also little incentive for manufacturers and even the service providers, who are not cooperating. 

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