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.


Trevor Bayne
1:19 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Knoxville’s Trevor Bayne Diagnosed With Multiple Sclerosis


 Popular NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne says he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system.  However, the 22 year-old Knoxville native says doctors at the Mayo Clinic have cleared him to continue driving.

"I've never been more driven to compete," Bayne said in a statement released Tuesday morning. “I am in the best shape I've ever been in, and I feel good. There are currently no symptoms, and I'm committed to continuing to take the best care of my body as possible."

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Sex Trafficking
5:52 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Tennessee Earns High Marks For Aggressive New Sex Trafficking Laws

Advocates for tougher sex trafficking laws rally in Maryland

Each year, the non-profit group Shared Hope International takes a comprehensive look at sex trafficking laws in each of the fifty states and grades them based on how well they’re designed to protect minors.  The Protected Innocence Challenge Report Card hasn’t always been kind to Tennessee.  In each of the last two years, the state received a “C”grade.

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Thousand Cankers Disease
4:00 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Tree-killing Disease Continues To Show Up In More ET Counties

A black walnut tree with missing leaves near the top could be a sign that the tree is infected with Thousand Cankers Disease.

This week, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture added Rhea and Morgan counties to a list of East Tennessee counties under quarantine after the discovery of Thousand Cankers Disease in black walnut trees. 

Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) is a condition that robs black walnut trees of their nutrients.  It’s transported from tree to tree by the Walnut Twig Beetle, a tiny bug that burrows into the tree, bringing with it a deadly fungus.   Experts suggest the tree can die within a few years of being infected. 

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3:01 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Tennessee Schools See Dramatic Improvement In National Report


Throughout the US, education officials are trying to put their best face on a national report that shows America’s fourth and eighth graders aren’t improving as quickly at math and reading as teachers, administrators, parents and politicians would like.

But not in Tennessee.

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Mass Casualty Drill
4:00 am
Wed November 6, 2013

East TN Emergency Responders To Participate In Massive Drill


It’s being billed as one of the largest hospital emergency drills in Tennessee history.  This morning, 54 organizations from throughout East Tennessee will participate in a mock disaster drill that will draw in hospitals, emergency responders and health departments from as far and wide as Chattanooga, Johnson City and Knoxville. 

All four of Knoxville’s hospitals will participate, as well as approximately 1,000 victim actors.  Many of the actors are Knox County schools students. 

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Amendment One
3:46 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

Debate Over TN Abortion Amendment Begins In Earnest

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  On Nov. 4, 2014, Tennesseans will go to the polls and vote on whether the state’s General Assembly should have the authority to regulate abortion. The so-called abortion amendment will appear on the ballot as “Amendment One” and if approved by voters, would add language to the state constitution that would read (in part), “Nothing in this constitution secures or protects a right to abortion.”

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Y-12 National Security Complex
2:49 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Federal Government Confirms Decision On Y-12 Contractor

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

As early as January of this year, employees at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge thought they knew who their new bosses were going to be.  On January 8, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced the Virginia-based company Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) would take over the reins of the facility from B&W Y-12, the contractor that had run Y-12 for more than a decade.

But not so fast.

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Living With HIV
3:28 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Dialogue: My HIV Life

Credit WUOT, Matt Shafer Powell

Despite advancements in medication and treatment, life with an HIV diagnosis is still a challenge, both physically and emotionally. This year, WUOT Producers Matt Shafer Powell and Leslie Snow sat down with five East Tennesseans to hear their stories about living with HIV.  In the WUOT radio documentary "I'm Still Here: My HIV Life", each speaks frankly about the grief, pain and hope that accompany their diagnoses.

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3:15 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Coming Wednesday: "I'm Still Here: My HIV Life"


When John was diagnosed with HIV in 1990, he never would have imagined he would be alive to celebrate his

50th birthday.

Twenty-three years later, the Oak Ridge resident views his life with the sense of appreciation and perspective that can only come from someone forced to face his own mortality. “My life is a lot different,” he said, “but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

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McClung Warehouses
4:11 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

Ruling Clears Way For Knoxville’s Purchase Of McClung Warehouses

Credit Knox Heritage

In 1893, prominent Knoxville businessman Calvin McClung built the first of five warehouses on Jackson Avenue to serve as the shipping headquarters for his family’s mail-order business.  For most of the 20th century, those warehouses lined the northern boundary of what’s now known as the Old City, standing watch as Knoxville stretched out and expanded below them. 

Now, only two of the giant, run-down buildings remain, serving as a visible reminder of the city’s industrial past and a crumbling symbol of its on-going fight to contain and control blight. 

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