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

Two survivors of domestic violence will share their stories Monday evening as part of Vera House’s virtual breakfast for dinner. White Ribbon Campaign co-chairs Emad Rahim and Marissa Saunders say the cause is close to their hearts, and it’s important to speak up and advocate.

A restaurant on Syracuse’s north side has tried everything to stay afloat since last March. Ullys Mouity owns Taste of Africa on Danforth Street.

“During the pandemic, maybe like a month after it started, financially we were almost about ready to close down the business.” said Mouity. “We really had to reinvent ourselves in order for us to continue. What we did is, on the same building we have the empty space that we ended up turning into take out.”



Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon was on a virtual national stage Wednesday when he testified before the House Committee on Homeland Security.  He urged Congress to allow local governments to make the rules on how to vaccinate their communities.

Syracuse’s largest bank is getting even bigger with the acquisition of a Connecticut based bank that serves the New England region.  M & T Bank’s purchase of People’s United Financial will make it the nation’s 11th largest bank. 

WAER file photo

Former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch has completed a year-long independent review of Syracuse University’s Department of Public Safety after their response to a string of racist incidents on campus in late 2019.  That prompted weeks of protest, and the atmosphere of mistrust between students, officers, and administrators escalated from there.

Geoffrey Goose / WAER News

The Community Folk Art Center in Syracuse is celebrating Black History Month with a unique exhibit. WAER News caught up with Executive Director Tanisha Jackson at the gallery, and visual artist Lavett Ballard on a shaky phone line.  Ballard captures Black history by painting historical events in her series “Stories My Grandmother Told Me.” 

Geoffrey Goose / WAER News

Leaders of the NAACP of Syracuse and Onondaga County say the group has not been fully embraced as a partner with the city's police department in the effort toward reform.  Organization President Bishop Colette Carter says the process has been described as collaborative and transparent, with the NAACP referred to as a partner. 


Those who spoke at the first public hearing on Syracuse’s draft police reform plan seemed to focus more on what they felt was missing in the 76 page document.  The virtual hearing Thursday evening attracted only about a dozen community members, compared to the hundreds who marched regularly over the summer demanding reform. 


WAER file photo

The Onondaga County Democratic Committee has designated its slate of candidates for the 2021 election, which will include the Syracuse mayoral race.  Councilor-at-large Michael Greene earned 58 percent of the vote over fellow councilor-at-large Khalid Bey.

An organization that prioritizes reintegration over incarceration in Syracuse and across the state is hoping to build on 40 years of success.  The Center for Community Alternatives is holding a virtual event Thursday evening where people can learn more about their programs.  Executive Director David Condliffe says they want the criminal justice system to be motivated by hope, not fear.