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


Onondaga County is taking more proactive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by tesing residents in assisted and independent living facilities.  In his Saturday update, county executive Ryan McMahon said all new cases now are from community spread, so it makes sense to find out who might have the virus and isolate them.

CNY Arts facebook page

The extension of the state’s stay-at-home order into mid-May means at least another month without foot traffic and ticket revenue for Central New York’s already struggling arts, culture, and heritage institutions.  We’ve been bringing you stories all week from select venues and performers trying to stay engaged with fans and audiences since the forced closures began over a month ago.

Syracuse’s freelance singers and musicians are among those whose gigs all but evaporated after COVID-19 began shutting down bars, restaurants, casinos, banquet halls, and music venues.  Here's the next story in our series on how live performers are coping without places to perform. 


Many of Central New York’s arts and culture institutions were heading into the final leg of their seasons when restrictions on large gatherings due to COVID-19 shut them down about a month ago.  Symphoria clearly counts on ticket sales and live audiences, but now musicians have nowhere to play but at home.

Passenger traffic at Syracuse's Hancock Airport predictably took a sharp decline in March due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions and traveler comfort levels.  The Syracuse Regional Airport Authority officials say in a release that 47 percent fewer people passed through the terminal compared to March 2019.  

Federal and state orders mean the airport remains open for essential travel only.  Airlines have also dramatically modified their schedules.  Those traveling in the coming weeks are strongly urged to check with their airline to confirm the status of their flight.  

WAER file photo

Restrictions on large gatherings have all but paralyzed Central New York’s arts, culture, and heritage institutions after they were forced to close about a month ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  That includes the Redhouse, which has postponed the remainder of its season. 

Onondaga County's facebook page

Officials nationwide and here in Onondaga County have said for weeks that testing and quick results remains one of the keys to controlling the spread of the coronavirus.  The turn time on tests sent to outside labs has typically ranged from a minimum of 24 hours to 5 days or more.  County Executive Ryan McMahon says Upstate University Hospital has increased its capacity to do onsite testing, with results available in hours.

Social distancing requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic mean many Central New Yorkers haven’t been able to gather and say goodbye to loved ones at traditional funerals or services.  President of Edward Ryan Funeral Home Chad Ryan says everyone has been mindful of the risk. 

City of Syracuse

It was another “first” for Syracuse city government on Wednesday…a virtual budget presentation by Mayor Ben Walsh.

"Given the current circumstances, this is anything but the traditional way in which we do this..." Walsh said as he began the presentation to common councilors on a Webex conference.

Onondaga County legislators held their usual monthly session on Tuesday, but not in their chambers on the fourth floor of the county courthouse.