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.

Ways to Connect

Scott Willis / WAER News

The union that represents more than 3,000 teachers in the Syracuse City School District wants to postpone live instruction until November 9th to ensure they can safely reopen for staff and students.  The Syracuse Teachers Association delivered its resolution to the school board last evening, right on the heels of their decision to move back the first day of school by one week to September 14th. 


One of the stakeholders at Thursday's I-81 Big Table meeting will be the Central and Northern New York Building and Construction Trades Council.  President Greg Lancette says it’s probably been decades since he’s seen an effort like this for any project. 

WAER file photo

Several major stakeholders in the $2 billion I-81 replacement project will gather virtually Thursday to explore ways to ensure city residents can benefit from it.  It’s being billed as the I-81 Jobs Big Table meeting, and we’re checking in with some stakeholders, including the Urban Jobs Task Force. 

Onondaga County Executive's Office / youtube

Onondaga County is trying to keep the number of COVID-19 cases low as college students return to campuses and school children prepare to head back to the classroom.  There were only a handful of cases since Sunday, continuing the community’s very low infection rate.


Scott Willis / WAER News

The Syracuse non-profit Tiny Homes for Good marked another milestone Monday, though it wasn’t the typical ribbon cutting.  Executive Director Andrew Lunetta says the COVID-19 pandemic means the two homes on Marquette Street just off Spencer Street have been lived in and already have stories to tell. 

City of Syracuse

Organizations in Syracuse already scrambling to find safe ways to reach hard-to-count populations for the census because of the pandemic now have one month less to gather and submit that information.  The Trump administration announced this week that the census bureau will end field data collection and stop collecting data September 30th. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

Dozens of Syracuse-area residents gathered in front of City Hall Thursday to mark a somber moment in world history…the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.  The words of a survivor and long-time Syracuse resident were heard for the first time. 


Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says she continues to fight for priorities that help families in the next coronavirus relief bill that’s hung up in Congress.  She wants to expand food assistance benefits, stabilize child care providers, and extend the nationwide moratorium on evictions, among other measures. 

Wiley online library

Research conducted by a Syracuse University Maxwell School sociology professor finds that partisan state policies have significant impacts on life expectancy.  Jennifer Karas Montez and seven others spent two years combing through nearly five decades of data, and found there’s a strong correlation between liberal policies and longer life expectancy, and conservative states that saw less gains.


Onondaga County and school districts are working on ways to keep the COVID-19 infection rate low while also getting as many children back into school buildings as possible this fall.