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.


10:44 am
Fri August 16, 2013

Inspector General’s Report Clears TVA Chair of Conflict-Of-Interest Charges


  A report by the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Office of the Inspector General has cleared TVA Board Chairman William Sansom of several allegations that his financial interests violate conflict-of-interest laws and policies.  The report also found a nepotism charge levied against Sansom was simply a case of mistaken identity.

Read more
Knox County Schools
4:30 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Changes In Store For Knox County Students On First Day of School

Knox County Public Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre joins children, parents, administrators and local officials at an August 8, 2013 ribbon-cutting to mark the opening of the brand new Northshore Elementary School on the county's west side.

Students showing up for the first day of school this morning in Knox County will be greeted by new teachers, new school security officers and for some, new schools.

Read more
Gay Marriage
7:25 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Same-Sex Couples Apply For Marriage Licenses In Three TN Counties


 Four gay and lesbian couples approached county clerks' offices in Shelby, Davidson and Wilson Counties Wednesday to apply for a marriage license.  

Each couple was turned down, but none were surprised.  In fact, that was the idea.

The couples were taking the necessary first step toward a possible legal challenge of Tennessee's constitutional amendment that defines a legal marriage as "the relationship of one man and one woman."  In order to challenge the amendment, someone has to claim his or her rights were denied. 

Read more
2014 Election
4:04 pm
Tue August 6, 2013

Former TRA Director Hints At Run For TN Governor

Credit official TN photo

A 19-year veteran of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority has indicated she may challenge Governor Bill Haslam's 2014 re-election bid.   Sara Kyle's comments to the Tennessean suggest she is weighing her options and would consider any position in which she could "be of service and help the Democrats move forward."

Read more
Rural Metro
11:56 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Rural/Metro Files Chapter 11 bankruptcy


The Arizona-based company that provides fire and ambulance services to Knox County is declaring bankruptcy, according to a press statement released by Rural/Metro's corporate office.

"The financial restructuring process will help ensure that Rural/Metro can continue to invest in its business, meet the needs of customers, patients and communities and further improve service," company officials said. 

Read more
Knoxville Food Trucks
4:30 am
Wed July 31, 2013

Knoxville To Consider New Rules For Food Trucks


Gourmet food trucks have become a big deal in a lot of American cities over the last few years.  But Knoxville is not among them. 

Byron Sambat is hoping to change that.  Sambat and his wife Nikisha own Savory and Sweet Truck of Knoxville.  He says they opened for business last year after seeing cities like Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles teeming with food trucks, each offering hungry customers a wide range of creative and tasty fare. 

“Over the past five or six years, we’ve been wondering why isn’t there anything here?” Sambat says.

Read more
President's visit to Chattanooga
4:50 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

President Offers GOP "Bargain" In Chattanooga Visit

President Barack Obama pitches his middle class jobs plan to a crowd at an fulfillment facility in Chattanooga.
Credit AP Photo/Susan Walsh

Speaking for the first time in East Tennessee since his 2008 election, President Barack Obama offered a “bargain” to his Republican rivals in Washington in an effort to head off a looming budget battle.  Obama told a Chattanooga audience he was willing to cut corporate tax rates if Republicans would agree to spend money on job creation programs for the middle class.

"More good jobs that pay decent wages, a better bargain for the middle class, an economy that grows from the middle out," Obama said.  "That's got to be our focus."

Read more
Presidential Visit
4:30 am
Tue July 30, 2013

President Obama To Talk Jobs In Chattanooga Today

Credit Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama brings his campaign to boost America’s middle class to East Tennessee today when he speaks with employees at the fulfillment center in Chattanooga.  The speech follows by one day Amazon’s announcement that it plans to hire 7,000 workers at its fulfillment and customer service centers nationwide.  The centers in Chattanooga and Murfreesboro are among those that will be hiring.

Read more
Anderson County Courthouse
4:42 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

"In God We Trust" Organizer Dismisses Legal Motion As Attempt At "Publicity"

Credit (aka Brent) via Creative Commons

The Anderson County man who spearheaded the drive to install “In God We Trust” signs on the county’s courthouse says he believes the man who challenged the signs this week is just trying to “get out of jail free”.  Oak Ridge businessman Lynn Byrge was responding to a legal motion by Kenneth Darrin Fisher of Clinton, who claims the signs violate his freedom of worship rights.  Fisher, a Cherokee descendent who follows the spiritual path known as the “Red Road”, is currently awaiting trial for allegedly trying to murder his wife.  

Read more
Tuition Increases
4:30 am
Wed July 24, 2013

Tennessee Legislator To Challenge Tuition Increases

Credit Matt Shafer Powell

A University of Tennessee-Knoxville freshman starting classes in the Fall of 2004 could expect to pay approximately $4748 in tuition and fees.

A student starting classes this fall will pay approximately 2 1/2 times as much.  And one Tennessee Senate Republican says he's seen enough. 

Read more