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

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Central New Yorkers who’ve been waiting since mid-March to have surgery can now begin the process of scheduling or rescheduling procedures.  St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center is among those who had to halt so-called “elective surgeries” to prepare for any possible surge in COVID-19 patients. 

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Hospitals in Onondaga, Oneida, Madison, and Oswego counties are among 35 in the state given the green light by Governor Cuomo to resume elective surgeries and other treatments.  All such procedures were halted last month to create surge capacity for COVID-19 patients. 


You may have heard New York’s Presidential Primary has been cancelled due to COVID-19, so now all eyes turn to the June 23rd congressional primary.  While it might not be on the minds of many Democrats in the 24th district amid the pandemic, the two candidates are trying to keep their supporters energized and engaged.

Most Central New Yorkers are probably getting pretty restless by now with the ongoing social distancing rules and the closure of most of the region’s economy due to COVID-19.  But local health and government officials say that’s the very reason community spread of the virus continues to drop.  Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon says it’s not yet time to stop our safety practices…in fact, he’d like everyone to do more social distancing than the week before.  


Two more people in Onondaga County have died of COVID-19…a man and woman in their 70s with underlying health conditions.  39 remain in the hospital, and 14 are critical.  Meanwhile, County Executive Ryan McMahon highlighted some good news in his daily update.  The number of active cases is the lowest it’s been since April 3rd…at 236.  That’s down 43 from Thursday. 

Scott Willis / WAER News

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh says the impact to the city budget by the COVID-19 closures is now up to $30 million.  That’s up $10 million from about two weeks ago, with most of the deficit from a sharp decline in sales tax revenue. 


Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressmember John Katko took part in a bi-partisan online town hall Thursday where they took constituent questions about COVID-19.  It was organized by the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability at The Ohio State University.  

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A Cornell University migration and human rights law professor says it appears that President Trump’s intention to more severely restrict immigration to the US is not based on public health or even economic concerns due to COVID-19.  

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The number of patients being admitted for COVID-19 at St. Joseph’s Hospital seems to reflect the larger drop in hospitalizations across the county.  Nurse Pearl Lavalette is St. Joe's infection prevention and control manager.  

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It goes without saying by now that COVID-19 has significantly changed the way retailers in Central New York and across the state are doing business.   The impact varies, but there are efforts to buffer the impact of the long term closure.