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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Breaking
12:35 pm
Fri May 17, 2013

George Thomas Found Guilty Again in Christian-Newsom Murders

Credit Tennessee Department of Correction

A Davidson County jury has found George Thomas guilty on all 38 counts related to the 2007 kidnapping, rape, torture and murder of Christopher Newsom and Channon Christian, including a charge of first degree felony murder. Following its verdict, the jury also sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole.  During the past week, Thomas' attorneys attempted to portray him as a passive observer to the crimes, but for the second time, a jury has determined him to be an active participant.   Thomas was originally convicted and sentenced to life without parole in 2009, but the c

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George Thomas retrial
9:22 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

George Thomas Jury Deliberations Go Into Second Day

A jury determining the fate of murder suspect George Thomas enters a second day of deliberations Friday morning.  Thomas is being retried for his role in the 2007 carjacking, rape, torture and murder of Christopher Newsom and Channon Christian.   Jurors are being asked to decide whether Thomas was an active participant in the crimes against the young couple or if he was simply a passive observer.  Prosecutors have failed to produce forensic evidence connecting him to the actual crimes, but they say the murders required a "team effort" and Thomas "was on that team".

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Pilot Flying J
11:35 am
Thu May 16, 2013

Pilot/Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam Addresses Trucking Executives

Pilot/Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam addresses reporters at an April press conference at the company's Knoxville headquarters.
Credit Christine Jessel

Pilot/Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam stood before a large crowd of trucking executives gathered in Indianapolis this morning at the Scopelitis Transportation Seminar and told them he knew nothing about an alleged scheme to defraud some of his company's trucking customers.  Last month, agents from the IRS and FBI raided Pilot's Knoxville headquarters in search of evidence to support the accusation that some members of the Pilot/Flying J sales staff were taking money promised to some of the company's clients in the form of rebates and discounts.  At this morning's seminar, Haslam spelled out a fi

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Preservation
12:07 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Fort Sanders Neighborhood heads up annual "Fragile 15" List

Credit Brian Stansberry

The historic district north of the University of Tennessee's Knoxville campus is the latest neighborhood to top Knox Heritage's annual "Fragile 15" list of endangered structures and places.

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smokies
7:14 pm
Sun May 12, 2013

Smoky Mountain Visitation Down for First Part of 2013

Credit nps.gov

The National Park Service reports a drop in visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the first four months of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012.  Statistics show 1,620,340 visited the park between January and April.  That represents a drop of 359,202 visitors.  Rangers suggest the closure of Newfound Gap Road between Gatlinburg, Tenn. and Cherokee, North Carolina is the most likely reason for the decrease.  The road was closed January 13 after a landslide wiped out approximately 200 feet of road surface. 

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Y-12
5:00 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Y-12 protester trial gets underway

Jury selection begins May 6 in the trial of three nuclear protesters who broke into the Y-12 Nuclear Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee last summer.  The Department of Energy facility houses the nation's stockpile of highly-enriched uranium.   The break-in was significant in a lot of ways--not the least was the fact that one of the three trespassers was an 82-year-old nun. 

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Y-12
5:35 pm
Thu May 9, 2013

Y-12 Protesters Remain in Jail, Await Judge's Decision

An unidentified protester shows his opposition to the U.S. Government's nuclear weapons activities in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Credit Matt Shafer Powell

Three nuclear protesters convicted in a federal court May 8 remain in jail while  U.S.

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Politics
3:08 pm
Thu April 18, 2013

Tennessee unemployment rate rises slightly

Credit Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development says the state's unemployment rate in March rose slightly from 7.8% to 7.9%.   Despite the increase, LWD says this is the lowest March rate on record since 2008.  It's still a few tenths of a point higher than the national rate, which was announced at 7.6%.   

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Dialogue on WUOT

WUOT's monthly live call-in program; hosted by a member of WUOT's News Staff 

We'll take your calls at 865-974-5050; tweet us @WUOTFM or submit your question on WUOT's Facebook page. 

Without A Net
12:00 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Without A Net: Voices of the Working Poor

During the week of December 3, 2012, WUOT Producers Matt Shafer Powell and Leslie Snow introduced us to a group of people often underrepresented in discussions about entitlements and employment.  Without A Net: Voices of the Working Poor highlighted the lives of six East Tennesseans for whom hope is often an unaffordable luxury. 

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