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.


Attorney General
3:16 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Supreme Court Selects Republican AG After Contentious Year


When conservatives in Tennessee failed to unseat three Democratic Supreme Court justices in a statewide election last month, Democratic Attorney General Bob Cooper thought he might have a chance at another eight-year term.

He was wrong.

Read more
Criminal Law
3:41 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

East Tenn Man Loses Appeal In Ammunition Possession Case

Credit Chattanooga Times Free Press

A convicted felon who was sent to prison for 15 years for possessing seven shotgun shells has failed in his bid to have the sentence overturned.

Edward Lamar Young of Hixson says the shells were in a chest of drawers he brought from his neighbor’s house while helping her clear out some of her late husband’s belongings.  Young says he eventually discovered them, but didn’t think anything of it and put them away so his children wouldn’t find them.

Read more
Veteran Suicides
2:21 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

State Officials At Loss To Explain Increase In Veteran Suicides


 Last year, 214 military veterans in Tennessee took their own lives, 17 more than the previous year. 

It’s the first time the total number of veteran suicides has eclipsed 200 since the state began tracking it in 1990.

Read more
US News & World Report
1:28 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

UT Falls In National Rankings; Officials ‘Not Disappointed”

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  The University of Tennessee in Knoxville has fallen three spots in US News and World Report’s annual rankings of the nation’s public universities.  This year’s report places UT in a tie with the University of Oregon at #50.  In the National Universities list, which includes private universities, UT slipped five spots to #106.

Read more
Domestic Violence
4:13 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Tennessee Still Among Most Deadly States For Women In Relationships

The rate at which women are murdered by men in Tennessee (blue), compared to the national average (red) over the last ten years. (Dates refer to the year the report was released)
Credit WUOT News/ Violence Policy Center

In 2012, 53 women were killed by men in Tennessee.

The average victim was 40 years old.

She was white, but 21 of her fellow victims were black.

She was most likely to have been shot with a gun by a man she knew.  In fact, none of the 53 women were killed by strangers.  She was romantically involved with him at the time of her murder, or she had been at one time.   Her murder was probably the result of an argument.

In Tennessee, it’s a familiar tale.

Read more
Lost Highway
4:30 am
Fri September 5, 2014

Lost Highway: The Life And Music Of Hank Williams

Actor/Singer/Songwriter Peter Oyloe portrays iconic singer Hank Williams in the Clarence Brown Theatre production of "Lost Highway"
Credit Elizabeth Aaron

The late country singer and songwriter Hank Williams has a special place in Knoxville lore.  After all, Knoxville was the last place Williams was seen alive before his mysterious, premature death at the age of 29.  Tonight, "Lost Highway", the story of Hank Williams' life and music, comes to the stage at the Clarence Brown Theatre.

Read more
2:39 pm
Mon September 1, 2014

What In The World Is WUOT-2??!?

Credit Matt Shafer Powell

  If you’ve heard us mention “WUOT-2” on the air before, you might be wondering, “What the heck does that mean?

You’re not alone. And we’d like to help you with this handy Q&A:

Q.     OK, then. What the heck does WUOT-2 mean?

Read more
3:16 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Snakes Seized At East TN Church Headed to Museum

Credit Zig Zag Productions

The frozen bodies of 53 venomous snakes confiscated from a Campbell County church last year will soon become part of a scientific collection at East Tennessee State University’s Natural History Museum in Gray.

Read more
Soldier Returns
5:00 am
Wed August 27, 2014

ET Soldier Returns Home After 69 Years

The remains of PFC Cecil E. Harris came home to East Tennessee Tuesday, nearly 70 years after he was reported missing while fighting in France.

The Shelbyville native was a 19 year-old husband and father at the time of his disappearance.  He was listed among the missing in January 1945 after his rifle platoon was overrun by German forces during the Battle of the Bulge.  The violent offensive was the Germans’ last of the war; they surrendered three months later.

Read more
2:56 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Tennessee Unemployment Rate Takes Upward Jump

12-month comparison of unemployment rates in Tennessee
Credit WUOT Image, Data from Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development

  Tennessee’s seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate rose sharply in July, the largest monthly increase in more than five years.  But economists say there’s no cause for alarm.

The rate rose from 6.6 percent in June to 7.1 percent last month.  The last time the rate increased half a percentage point from one month to another was March of 2009.  At that time, in the midst of the Great Recession, Tennessee’s rate rose from 9.6 percent to 10.1 percent.

Read more