Matt Shafer Powell

Director of News Content/Executive Producer

Matt was born and raised in Western Michigan, near Grand Rapids. Like many of his generation who eventually worked in radio, Matt spent an inordinate amount of time as a boy with a tape recorder, a microphone and 45s stacked an inch high on the record player. His dreams of being on the radio became reality at the age of 17, when he convinced the news director at a Grand Rapids radio station to let him work for free. Later, while working toward a broadcasting degree at Central Michigan University, he discovered the thrill of the audio production process; in the years since, he's worked as a producer of radio commercials and as an audio engineer, creating soundtracks for videos and films.

In public radio, he's found the perfect confluence of his interests in storytelling, news, writing and audio production. He joined WUOT in November 2002 after heading up Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Bureau. A self-described "sports geek," he also enjoys writing fiction, playing guitar and laughing ‘til it hurts with his wife and three children. Among his guilty pleasures, he lists hockey fights, socks with sandals and the BeeGees' disco-era stuff.

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Patrick Sullivan's
4:30 am
Wed July 23, 2014

Patrick Sullivan’s Iconic “Painted Ladies” To Be Auctioned Off

Credit Knox Heritage

For more than a decade, the Painted Ladies of Patrick Sullivan’s flirted with male customers at the corner of Jackson and Central in Knoxville’s Old City.  They were painted on the windows of the saloon’s second floor, each adorned with the accoutrements of an 19th century call-girl.  Their presence was an artistic wink at the bar’s raucous past, one that includes rumors that it once operated as a brothel.

The bar closed down in 2011. 

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Nashville Area Code
2:04 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Middle Tennesseans Begin Preparations For New Area Code

Credit WUOT News, Todd Steed

  Since 1995, the 615 area code has been synonymous with Nashville and its surrounding areas.  That will soon change.

Nashville’s rapid population growth and the emergence of cell phones and other communication devices means the 615 code will soon run out of phone numbers.  Beginning in March, all new phone numbers from within the existing 615 area code will contain the new code 629.

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Oak Ridge
4:30 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Oak Ridge Museum Faces Uncertain Future

Credit M. Michelle Powell

  The city of Oak Ridge and the foundation that supports the American Museum of Science and Energy (AMSE) are asking the public for ideas on how to best preserve one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. 

City officials and the AMSE Foundation are planning a community forum on Thursday, July 24 to discuss the museum’s future.

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Affordable Care Act
4:26 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Insurance Exchange Customers In TN Could See Double-Digit Increase

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

 (NOTE:  This article was updated 7.18.14 to include Humana's request for an increase)

 Knoxvillians who chose to purchase their health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are currently paying some of the lowest premiums in the country.   But those rates may soon be going up.

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Prescription Drug Abuse
4:30 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Prescription Drug Campaign Makes Stop In Knoxville Today

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

A state-sponsored effort to address Tennessee’s spiraling rate of prescription drug abuse comes to East Tennessee today as part of a statewide tour.  Tennessee’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Doug Varney and other addiction experts have been traveling the state this summer to draw attention to what they’re calling an “epidemic”, while highlighting specific strategies designed to bring it under control. 

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Wine in Stores
4:30 am
Mon July 14, 2014

East Tennessee Communities Lead Wine Charge

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

Six Tennessee communities have collected enough petition signatures to place wine referenda on their respective ballots in November.

All six are in East Tennessee.

According to the advocacy group Red, White and Food, residents of Clinton, Morristown, Church Hill, Rogersville, Loudon and Newport have all collected the minimum number of signatures required to force a ballot referendum on whether their local grocery stores should be able to offer wine. 

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Marble Alley Lofts
3:42 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

Officials Break Ground On Downtown Apartments

Credit marblealley.com

The patch of land known as Marble Alley in downtown Knoxville was once held up by the city’s detractors as an example of its ineptitude when it came to downtown development.

Today, it serves as an example of how far downtown Knoxville has come.   

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East TN jobs
4:14 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

East TN Employers Demanding More STEM Skills

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  If you’re interested in doing sales in East Tennessee, there are still plenty of opportunities.  At the same time, it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. 

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Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
4:30 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Majority Of State’s NAS Cases Originate In East TN

A WUOT News analysis of Tennessee Department of Health data on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) shows a large majority of the cases reported in Tennessee so far this year have come from the east side of the state.

As of the end of June, regional health departments throughout the state had reported a total of 463 cases, 296 of which originated in East Tennessee.  Middle Tennessee reported 131 cases and West Tennessee reported 36.

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Independence Day
4:30 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Fire Marshal's Advice: Leave The Fireworks To The Pros

Credit thebigorangepress.com

 Tennessee State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak has one bit of advice for the amateur pyro-technicians poised to light those fireworks tonight.

Leave it to the pros.

 “We would encourage you to enjoy the holiday at a public display presented by trained professionals, where compliance with state-of-the-art fire codes offers a safer way to celebrate our nation’s independence," McPeak says.

McPeak certainly isn’t the first fire marshal to warn amateurs to stay away from fireworks.  But she does make her case with a couple of pertinent statistics. 

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