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.


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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Traffic Fatalities
3:37 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Tennessee Traffic Deaths On Pace To Match 2012

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

When you're talking about the annual number of traffic fatalities in Tennessee, the magic number is 1000. 

For most of the past 60 years, the yearly total of deaths on Tennessee roads has hovered somewhere above the 1000 mark, reaching a record of 1444 in 1973.

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Federal Government Shutdown
7:19 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Great Smoky Mountains National Park To Re-open Wednesday

Traffic cones near the southern side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park reroute visitors during a partial government shutdown that has closed most of the park's roads.
Credit WUOT News, Brandon Hollingsworth

As states with large national parks continue to bleed tourist dollars, many are looking at re-opening the parks themselves

On Tuesday, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced the state will commit nearly a quarter of a million dollars to re-open the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Wednesday.  Blount and Sevier Counties will contribute an additional $60,000.  However, the money will run out quickly and the deal only guarantees the park will be open through Sunday.    

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Federal Government Shutdown
12:41 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

"Anger, Anxiety" As Y-12 Employees Await Furloughs

Atomic Trades and Labor Council President Steve Jones speaks at a press event in Oak Ridge Thursday. The event was held to put pressure on House Republicans to agree to a budget deal.
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

The clock is ticking today for approximately 3600 employees at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge who will be furloughed without pay on Thursday if Congress and the President can’t reach an agreement on the federal budget. 

“Just like most of Middle America, we’ve got folks who live paycheck to paycheck,” says Steve Jones, President of the local Atomic Trades and Labor Council.  “They’re wondering how they’re going to make their mortgage payments and how they’re going to pay their bills.”

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Climate Change
4:30 am
Fri October 11, 2013

UT Study: Turtles May Have Trouble Adapting To Climate Change

Eastern Box Turtle

Over the past 320,000 years, turtles in North America have survived through numerous fluctuations in global temperature.  When the temperature dropped, they moved to a warmer climate and if it started to get too hot, they headed North.  While some turtle species were unable to make the move, the successful species migrated an average of 45 miles for each degree of temperature change. 

Today’s turtles may not have that option.

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Federal Government Shutdown
2:09 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Group Claims Smokies Shutdown Costing $2M Per Day


A report prepared by a group representing retired Park Service employees claims the federal shutdown is costing East Tennessee and Western North Carolina approximately two million dollars a day in lost revenue.

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) report released Thursday used October 2012 attendance figures for twelve of the leading national parks and attempted to calculate the amount of money those visitors would have spent if the parks had been open this year. 

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Car-Deer Collisions
4:30 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Car-Deer Collisions On The Rise In Tennessee


Data from the Tennessee State Highway Patrol suggest cars and deer are crossing paths more frequently and in some cases, the results can be deadly.

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James White Parkway
2:48 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Supporters Of James White Extension Fail In Attempt To Revive Controversial Roadway

Construction barrels and barricades discourage drivers from continuing south on the James White Parkway in South Knoxville. Recent decisions by the Transportation Planning Organization will likely ensure a five-mile section of the roadway beyond the barricades will remain unfinished.
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

As long as it still has a pulse, the James White Parkway extension isn’t dead.  Not yet.  But as of today, it appears to be one step closer.

Supporters of the controversial road attempted to pass a motion before the Transportation Planning Organization’s technical committee this morning that would have moved the project back onto the TPO’s long-range plan.  In late August, the TPO voted to abandon the decades-old project.  This morning’s motion by Sevier County Communications Coordinator Perrin Anderson represented an attempt to reverse that decision. 

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Fatal Bus Crash
3:39 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Eight Killed When Church Bus Crosses I-40 Median

Credit Paul Efird,

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports eight people have died and another 14 were injured as the result of a collision between a passenger bus, a tractor-trailer and a Chevy Tahoe SUV on westbound I-40 in Jefferson County.  

The accident happened at approximately 2:00pm Wednesday near the I-81 split.  The bus was carrying members of the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, NC, on their way home after attending a Christian festival in Gatlinburg. 

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