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

Onondaga County is trying to ease some of the frustration for seniors and their families who’ve been trying without success to schedule an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine.  When slots open, they’re almost immediately filled by other eligible patients before seniors even have a chance to sign up. 

The calls for racial, social, and economic justice that rang out across the nation and in Central New York are echoing through the halls, offices, and boardrooms of corporate America. Those who work in the diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI field have taken notice, and have a renewed sense of purpose to make race part of everyday conversation in the office. In this episode of City Limits: Winds of Change, Scott Willis introduces us to two women who work with company leaders and employees to tackle DEI issues …and who bring personal perspectives to their roles."

The Unmanned Aerial Systems, or UAS test site at Griffiss Airport in Rome recently reached another milestone in the testing of drone operations when they completed a key phase of the FAA’s drone integration program. 

Governor Cuomo's Flickr page

Upstate Medical University is working on a plan to reach the region’s LGBTQ and other underserved populations as part of its role as a hub for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.  The group SAGE Upstate recently hosted a discussion with Terrence Howell, SUNY Upstate’s Director of Quality for Research. 

"We will create what we're going to call pods, where there will be LGBTQ-centered vaccine sites," Howell said.  "Maybe we can get the Q Center in Syracuse specifically fro those who may feel uncomfortable going to a different facility to get a vaccination."

Several State Senators and Assembly members say they were surprised to learn that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration  does not provide Internet access to people living in state run groups homes and other congregant settings, and they want that fixed immediately.

Governor Cuomo's Flickr page

Onondaga County is working on a way to make sure more seniors are able to get vaccinated for COVID-19 when the next shipment arrives.  County Executive Ryan McMahon says they’re looking at a pre-registration system followed by a lottery so technology-challenged seniors don’t fall through the cracks.


A potential republican candidate for Syracuse mayor didn’t mince words in the response to Mayor Walsh’s state of the city address.

"The state of the city is precarious.  Syracuse is not rising.  Syracuse is sinking.  Sinking into a pit of garbage, potholes, and lawlessness."

The less-than-rosy outlook came from economist Janet Burman, who says safe, affordable housing is key to addressing the decades-long exodus of the middle class from the city.

Scott Willis / WAER News

It appears all was quiet today from Syracuse to Albany to Washington as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office, with no apparent efforts to oppose or disrupt the inauguration.  WAER News checked some key locations around downtown as Biden gave his inauguration speech.

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A Syracuse University political science professor says Tuesday’s inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be seen through new and different lenses for a number of reasons. 

WAER file photo

All small business owners and lenders in Central New York are now able to apply for their first loan or another loan under the Paycheck Protection program, or PPP.  Last week, the Small Business Administration granted access only to lenders serving primarily minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses who might have missed out on the initial launch.