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-FM 88.3

Excitement is growing about the proposed regional high school and worker training center in Syracuse now that Governor Cuomo has included it as one of his state of the state priorities.  He gave his address Wednesday afternoon.

A Syracuse University law professor says the death of Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani is a step toward tamping down more than two decades of orchestrated conflicts and proxy wars across the Middle East.  Corri Zoli is director of research at SU’s Institute for Security Policy and Law. 


Don’t let the mild temperatures and lack of snow in your backyard fool you…Central New York ski resort operators say it’s a great time to hit the slopes.  Holiday break is a critical time of year for the resorts.

Merrell-Soule photo: Andrea Zlotucha Kozub; Huntington House: Virginia Bartos

Two Central New York properties were recently nominated to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.  WAER News decided to dig a little deeper and find out what makes them historially significant.

A PIEMAKER'S DELIGHT / interfaithworkscny

Resettlement agencies in Syracuse continue to adjust to the significant drop in refugees nearly three years after president Trump’s executive orders severely restricted the number allowed to enter the U.S.  In part one of this story, we learn about the most recent order that adds another layer to the process.

Scott Willis / WAER News

He arrived by Fed Ex cargo plane from Colorado.  He weighs 450 pounds and likes the smell of Prada perfume and fresh brewed coffee.  And he’s the newest addition to the Rosamond Gifford zoo.  WAER was one of the only media outlets on hand for Monday's introduction of Thimbu the Amur Tiger . 

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon tried to round up children to get a better look.

"Come on up, come on kids, come on up," he said.  

"Oh, here he comes," one visitor said.  "Here is is.  Oh my goodness.  Wow!"

File Photo / WAER News

Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to close what he sees as a loophole in the state’s already-strongest in the nation gun safety laws.  The measure he’s proposing would prevent individuals who commit certain crimes in other states from legally owning a gun here in New York. 

Scott Willis / WAER-FM 88.3

The president and CEO of Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo is looking back at her 13 years with the non-profit with pride as she prepares to retire next month.   Janet Agostini  says the organization was $2 million in debt when she took the position in 2006.  She says it was paid off 12 years early.

Scott Willis / WAER News

UPDATE: Common Councilors will vote on the labor agreement with the Police Benevolent Association Thursday at 4:00 p.m.


Syracuse Police Chief Kenton Buckner made his case Tuesday for common council approval of a hotly debated union contract.  In his first public comments on the matter, he told councilors the various educational, language, and longevity incentives will make the department more competitive in recruiting and retaining officers.

provided photo / Judith Huober, SJFS

An innovative art therapy program for Central New York seniors with memory loss is getting a boost to expand its reach.  The Alzheimer's Foundation of America has awarded a $5,000 grant to Syracuse Jewish Family Service for its Arts and Minds initiative.  SJFS director Judith Huober says art can help to bypass any cognitive challenges and be a stimulating social experience.