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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WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

This Saturday's highly-anticipated football game between the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech is generating a lot of excitement.  Barring anything unforeseen, the game at Bristol Speedway is expected to shatter NCAA football attendance records.

The game was originally scheduled to be played in Knoxville.  As a result, merchants who rely heavily on game traffic during home-game weekends are preparing for weak sales.  

Since May of 2015, WUOT's been traveling around East Tennessee asking folks the simple question "What Keeps You Up At Night"?

We received more than 750 responses.  They ranged from the weird to the scary to the powerful.  You told us you worry about health, family and debt.  You expressed your aspirations and your greatest fears.  You were honest and frank.

Now, it's time to begin asking a new question.  And we invite you to come up with it.

Just a few guidelines:

Clarence Brown Theatre

Of all the themes that haunt Arthur Miller's classic play The Crucible, none seems more powerful or destructive as fear.   Set during the Salem Witch Trials of the 1680's, it is Miller's depiction of primal fear that drives ordinary people to commit heinous acts of treachery, seclusion and murder.  

Charlene Hipsher has a unique vantage point from which to witness East Tennessee's addiction crisis.

From her position as Executive Assistant to Roane County Prosecutor Russell Johnson, Hipsher sees a daily flow of opiate addicts surging through the courts.   

  These are people she knows.  From families she knows.  She says it's heartbreaking to see.  

"I'm talking to those parents who are not so different from me," Hipsher says, "and they're burying their kids." 

A few years ago, Jim Stokely was looking through some boxes in the Newport, Tennessee house where he was raised with his brother Dykeman, his father James and his mother, the late author and historian Wilma Dykeman.  In the bottom of a flimsy shirt box, he found a typewritten manuscript, held together by decaying rubber bands.  

He began to read it.  And within seconds, he realized it was the memoir Wilma Dykeman always said she wanted to write.

The 2016 presidential campaign is breaking all the rules when it comes to how the candidates speak, communicate with the public and get their messages out to voters.   On this episode of Dialogue, WUOT's Matt Shafer Powell welcomes University of Tennessee Political Communication professor Stuart Brotman, a veteran of four presidential administrations.  They look at how this year’s race for the White House compares with past campaigns—and how it will inform future campaigns.

On August 29, 2016, our morning news updates left the impression Tennessee State House candidate Rick Staples is resigning from the League of Women Voters of Knox County.  In truth, Staples is resigning from LWV's Board of Directors, but he will remain as a member of the organization.

Staples has resigned his position on the board because the League's by-laws prohibit board members from running for public office.   

  The answer, of course, is no.  He's from Jamaica.  But somehow, we missed that day in Geography class.  As a result, WUOT accidentally reassigned Mr. Bolt to the South African Olympic team during our Monday morning newscasts.  The South African team would love it to be true, but alas, it is not.  

It was an error and we apologize for the confusion. 

  It’s nearly impossible to discuss the change in downtown Knoxville over the last decade or so without Bill Lyons’ name coming up.  Since leaving a professorship at the University of Tennessee to join City Hall in 2003, the Deputy to the Mayor and Public Policy Officer has become the gear that turns the engine of development in Knoxville’s City Center.  On this episode of Dialogue, Bill Lyons joins host Matt Shafer Powell to talk about how Knoxville's downtown has gone from a lifeless, aging hulk to a vibrant, urban destination.  

  The ‪Healthy Happy Hour Block Party

Join WUOT’s TruckBeat team at the Central Collective in North Knoxville for a FREE family-friendly afternoon block party. #‎HealthyHappyHour will have fun activities for adults and kids, yoga and children's movement classes, free face-painting, a photo booth – and more!

Share your health stories and questions in the TruckBeat story truck.