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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Knox County Schools
4:30 am
Mon July 15, 2013

Knox County Schools Offer Glimpse Into Security Training

Credit youthvoices.net

This week, members of the East Tennessee media will have the chance to watch as some of Knox County's new school resource officers learn such important skills as Drug Recognition, Verbal Conflict Management and Crime Scene Preservation.  Officers from the newly-expanded security force are in the middle of an intense, six-week program that will prepare them for the coming school year. 

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Roane Co. Jail
2:24 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

New Roane Jail Struggles With Overcrowding

This was supposed to solve the problem.

In 2009, the Roane County Sheriff's Department proudly showed off its brand new, $10 million jailhouse to a public weary of fighting about it.  The long-awaited opening of the facility followed more than a decade of heated discussion, shuttled plans and warnings that the previous facility was dangerously overcrowded. 

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TVA
4:30 am
Wed July 10, 2013

Public Invited To See Artifacts At TVA Dig Site

The TVA excavation site contains the foundation of a home once owned by former Knoxville mayor and businessman Peter Kern.
Credit wikicommons

Tennessee Valley Authority officials are planning a public open house to display some of the archaeological discoveries unearthed during an excavation of a downtown Knoxville site.  Sealed for years beneath a parking lot, the site west of Market Square contains the foundations of three turn-of-the-century homes, one of which once belonged to businessman and politician Peter Kern.

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Western Governor's University
4:04 pm
Tue July 9, 2013

Tennessee Launches "Competency-Based" University

Credit wgu.edu

In a typical university setting, a student attends classes and accumulates credits until he or she receives a degree.  In a "competency-based" model, the student attends on-line classes and receives the degree when he or she shows a complete understanding of the subject matter.

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New Laws- 2013
4:30 am
Mon July 1, 2013

"Guns In Trunks" Among Several Tennessee Laws Taking Effect Today

Credit capitol.tn.gov

Each July 1 in Tennessee, many of the laws approved during the previous legislative session go into effect.  Here's a quick rundown of some of the new laws:

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Rare Birds
4:30 am
Thu June 27, 2013

New Technology Helps Track Rare Birds In Smokies

New voice recognition technology could be used to locate and track rare Smoky Mountain birds like the Prairie Warbler.
Credit U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service

If you want to find out if a rare bird like the Prairie Warbler is living near you, you can stand out in a field and listen for its call.  But that could take hours.  Or days.  Or months.  And you still might miss it.

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In Search of Dental Care
4:30 am
Wed June 26, 2013

One In Five Tennesseans Lacks Access To Dental Care

Credit pewstates.org

A new report claims Tennessee is suffering a severe shortage of qualified dentists and the problem isn't likely to be resolved in the coming years.  The Pew Charitable Trusts' In Search of Dental Care report identifies "shortage areas" throughout the country in which the ratio of dentists to residents is particularly troublesome.  Approximately 19% of Tennesseans don't have access to a dentist who can provide routine care, a dubious distinction that ranks Tennessee among the worst in the natio

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Knoxville Zoo
12:43 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

Wild Bear Attempts Knox Zoo Break-in Under Cover Of Darkness

Otis (shown here), one of four black bears at the Knoxville Zoo, was sound asleep last night and oblivious to an attempted break-in by one of his wild cousins.
Credit Knoxville-zoo.org

Maybe he was looking to find a place where he could get a good night's sleep.  Maybe he was lonely and looking for a little female companionship.  Or maybe he was inspired by the story of an 82 year-old nun who broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge last summer. 

No, says Knoxville Zoo Mammal Curator Amy Flew, the young black bear seen scaling one of the zoo's perimeter fences early this morning was probably just looking for food.  And for the record, she says no one is sure whether the bear was actually a "he".

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2013 Awards
8:50 pm
Sun June 23, 2013

WUOT Receives Four First-Place Awards In Annual Public Radio Broadcasters Contest

WUOT Director of News Content Matt Shafer Powell poses with NPR's Weekend Edition Host Scott Simon at the annual Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI) conference in Cleveland, Ohio. WUOT received four First-Place reporting awards at the ceremony, which was hosted by Simon.
Credit Aaron Selbig, PRNDI

On June 22, 2013, WUOT was recognized with four first-place awards at the Public Radio News Directors Inc.

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Civil Service Lawsuit
4:30 am
Mon June 17, 2013

Nashville Court To Hear State Employees' Complaint Today

Credit TSEAonline.org

Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Amanda McClendon will hear testimony today related to a class-action lawsuit filed against the State of Tennessee, charging the State's Department of Human Resources with violating the two year-old Tennessee Excellence, Accountability and Management (TEAM) Act.  The law, passed in 2012 by Bill Haslam's administration with support from the Tennessee State Employees Association, requires the state to provide a 60-day notice and career placement, job testing and job placement for any employees losing their jobs through lay-offs.  The TSEA's lawsuit claims T

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