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.


Coal Ash
4:30 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Summit Organizers To Push For Federal Regulation Of Coal Ash

Mounds of coal ash waste fill a creek following a 2008 spill at the TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

In 2008, a storage wall at the TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant in East Tennessee collapsed, dumping more than a billion gallons of coal ash waste into the surrounding rivers and community.   The wet, gray sludge covered more than 300 acres, killed thousands of fish, destroyed some nearby homes and filled the Emory and Clinch Rivers to their banks.

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12:14 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Tennesseans May Pay Some Of The Nation’s Lowest ACA Health Insurance Rates

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  On October 1, the federal government will move forward with the next stage of the Affordable Care Act.  Throughout the country, on-line marketplaces will open up, offering detailed information on health care plans available to qualified customers.  As the date approaches, the questions are already piling up:  Will I qualify?  How will the exchanges work?  What choices will I have?  What will my plan cover?  And how much will I be expected to pay for health insurance?

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Knoxville City Primary
2:57 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Voter Participation In Knoxville Primary Reaching Historically Low Levels

Credit WUOT, Matt Shafer Powell

There are 90,168 eligible voters who can cast ballots in the Knoxville City Council primary, which ends with Tuesday’s election.

As Early Voting closed Thursday evening, only 713 Knoxvillians had actually done so.  That’s a turnout rate short of 1%. 

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Lucas Richman
3:46 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Maestro Lucas Richman To Leave KSO

Credit Knoxville Symphony

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Conductor and Music Director Lucas Richman has announced he will be leaving the orchestra following the 2014-2015 season, his 12th in Knoxville.  Richman is currently under contract through 2014, but KSO officials say he has agreed to continue with the symphony an additional year. 

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Union County Feud
12:53 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Knox County Schools Security Officer Arrested Following Deadly Feud

Michael Woodby (left) and Kevin Waggoner (right) confront each other in a video shot by Waggoner and submitted to local news outlets. Waggoner has been arrested and faces a criminal homicide charge in Woodby's death.
Credit Kevin Lee Waggoner via the

A Knox County school security officer has been arrested  after allegedly shooting and killing his Union County neighbor Monday night.  Kevin Waggoner of Luttrell has been charged with criminal homicide.

A spokesperson for the Knox County Schools would not reveal the location of the school where Waggoner works.  Waggoner has been employed by the school system for slightly more than two years. 

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Speed Limits
4:30 am
Mon September 16, 2013

City Looks To Public For Speeding Solution

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

The City of Knoxville tried building speed bumps and rumble strips.  It put up new speed limit signs and in some cases, lowered speed limits.  It even put police patrols on a rotation.  But nothing seems to prevent lead-footed drivers from tearing through the city's neighborhoods and down its side streets.

So city officials are looking to residents of those neighborhoods for ideas.

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Renegade Mountain homicide
4:01 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Cumberland County Man Arrested In Quadruple Homicide

Credit Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

Police have arrested a Crab Orchard man for the murder of four young people on Renegade Mountain in Cumberland County.

TBI investigators say they arrested 26 year-old Jacob Allen Bennett Friday.  Bennett was already in custody in Rhea County after being arrested Thursday night on a parole violation.  . 

The bodies of Danielle Jacobson, 22, Steven Presley, 17, Dominic Davis, 17 and John Lajeunesse, 17 were discovered in a parked vehicle Thursday morning by a resident of this former resort community.  All four victims had been shot to death.

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Gay Street Parking
4:30 am
Fri September 13, 2013

City Of Knoxville Targets Gay Street Parking Violators

Parking signs on Gay Street say there's a two-hour limit, but the limit is rarely enforced. That's about to change.
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

The signs next to the free parking spaces on Gay Street say there's a two-hour limit between 6:00 am and midnight.  However, the more savvy downtown drivers realized a while ago that two-hour limit was rarely enforced. 

That's about to change.

Beginning Sunday, September 15, the Public Building Authority will take over Gay Street parking enforcement duties from the Knoxville Police Department. And while the KPD was often too busy to enforce the two-hour limit, the PBA is making it a priority.

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Zeb Mountain
4:11 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Judge Approves Agreement That Shuts Down Controversial Coal Mine


Over the past decade, National Coal LLC's Zeb Mountain coal mine on the Scott/Campbell county border has become a rallying point for environmental groups and East Tennessee residents opposed to the practice known as "mountain-top removal".   Mountain top removal is a process by which the summit or summit ridge of a mountain is removed to expose the coal seams that lie beneath.  After the coal is mined, the summit is replaced to mimic the original contour of the mountain.

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U.S. News & World Report Rankings
2:43 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

UT Campus Slips One Spot Away From Top 25 Goal—Or Does It?

UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek addresses the media to discuss the latest university rankings from U.S. News and World Report (09.10.13)
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

In 2010, then-Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee challenged the University of Tennessee with the goal of becoming a Top 25 public research university by the year 2020.  Since then, UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek has engaged in a relentless public campaign to make that happen. 

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