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

A Central New York non-profit that typically organizes trips south to help residents rebuild after hurricanes has spent the past several weeks building desks for local students learning remotely.  Volunteers with Operation Northern Comfort don’t plan to stop even though they’ve surpassed their goal.

WAER file photo

Syracuse City Schools Superintendent Jaime Alicea says he expected the jump in graduation rates due to continuing efforts to increase student performance and closely monitoring their progress.  Overall, state data show close to 71 percent of students who entered high school in 2016 graduated in four years, a historic high. 

provided photo / Onondaga Community College

Onondaga Community College students pursuing a career in a supply-chain related field will get a boost to continue their education.  The Institute for Supply  Chain Management of Greater Syracuse recently presented a $45,000 check to the OCC Foundation.  Institute president Mary Rhodes says this gift is an investment in the future of Central New York.

Governor Cuomo's Flickr page

Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled an ambitious plan to bring more green energy and what he says will be thousands of jobs to New York State. Plans include new solar farms and off shore wind turbines, and more transmission lines across the state.

Governor Cuomo's Flickr page

Governor Cuomo delivered the first of four parts of his state of the state address Monday, most of which revolves around fighting and recovering from the impact of COVID-19. 

Win McNamee/Getty images / via

Reactions to the storming of the U.S. Capitol building by a large number of President Trump supporters Wednesday sparked some strong reactions from New York's Congressional delegation and political experts in Central New York. Among them was Rep. John Katko who issued this statement just after 5:00 p.m:

"I am grateful to all of those who have reached out regarding my safety today.  The support and concern expressed is humbling. I am in a safe location.


Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is renewing a call to pass her Health Force legislation from last year, which could help aid the lagging distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.  She says the new Congress and incoming Biden Administration present an opportunity to reevaluate the approach to the pandemic and create a new response strategy. 


Onondaga County lost another 12 residents to COVID-19 Sunday into Monday, continuing what County Executive Ryan McMahon calls a very tough, unbearable month.  Sixty-nine residents have died in just the last week.  The county’s infection rate also jumped from 5.5 percent to 6.1 percent, which McMahon attributes to fewer tests of asymptomatic residents over the weekend.

WAER file photo

Interfaith Works of Central New York is preparing for a return to a more open-minded approach to refugee resettlement under the incoming Biden Administration.  Executive director Beth Broadway says as the Trump administration dramatically reduced the number of refugees, the organization expanded services aimed at helping refugees for the longer term.

Scott Willis / WAER News

Christmas came early for four students at Syracuse’s Van Duyn elementary Wednesday who received laptops donated by the Syracuse/Onondaga County Chapter of the NAACP.  Outgoing president Linda Brown-Robinson wanted to do something impactful to help students with remote learning and other interests.

"I knew when we started receiving donations, and it was asked that we put the money put to good use, I could think of no other way than to share it with our students because they're going to be tomorrow.  I wish we could do more, and I think we will, but four is a start."