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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The late country singer and songwriter Hank Williams has a special place in Knoxville lore.  After all, it was the last place he 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.  The play stars Peter Oyloe, who’s making a career out of portraying Williams at various venues around the country.  WUOT’s Matt Shafer Powell recently had the chance to sit down with Oyloe and discuss Hank Williams—the singer, the songwriter …and the man…

Earlier this week, the University of Tennessee announced it’s having all-new lighting installed at Thompson-Boling Arena.  The new system consists of Light-Emitting Diodes—or LED's.  LED lights like these are en vogue now because they’re efficient and adaptable. But they’ve never been used in large sports arenas. WUOT’s Matt Shafer Powell explains why.

INTRO:  This is 91.9 FM WUOT. I’m Chrissy Keuper.  In case you haven’t noticed, this is election time in East Tennessee—in fact, today is Election Day.  And it would be hard not to notice, thanks to the thousands and thousands of yard signs that currently adorn our front yards and intersections.  Those yard signs are cheap, they’re colorful and they’re everywhere.  Last week, WUOT’s Matt Shafer Powell visited one early voting site, where yard signs have become as much a part of campaign culture as the dubious promise and the baby in need of a kiss…

Since its birth in 1933, the TVA has never been short of critics.  Many blame the historically bad air in the Tennessee Valley on the arrogance of TVA management and the agency’s dirty, inefficient coal-fired power plants.  But in the last few years, the TVA has begun retiring some of its older plants, refurbishing others and  is starting to embrace different sources of fuel for the electricity it produces. WUOT's Matt Shafer Powell reports some of the utility's critics are beginning to take notice...

WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

In March of 2009, the unemployment rate in East Tennessee was skyrocketing.  And Melissa Nance’s phone was ringing off the hook.

As Executive Director of Knoxville’s Friends of Literacy, Nance works closely with Knox County Schools’ Adult Education Program to provide assistance for those East Tennesseans who may have dropped out of school and would now like to get a high school equivalency diploma.

Shawn Millsaps



  On January 9, 2015, President Barack Obama spoke at Pellissippi State Community College to announce a proposed program that would pay for community college tuition nationwide.  He was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Second Lady Jill Biden and Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

  On this episode of Dialogue,  host Matt Shafer Powell and Dr. Cheryl Johns, Pentecostal minister and professor at the Cleveland-based Pentecostal Theological Seminary examine the ways in which Christian evangelicals are making care of the environment an important part of their spiritual message.  How does it square with their beliefs about creation and end times?  And how does it affect long-standing political alliances?  


On December 18, 2014, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced Tennessee's preliminary unemployment rate (seasonably-adjusted) fell 3/10 of a percentage point from October's rate of 7.1%.

The Tennessee rate is a full percentage point higher than the November's national rate of 5.8%.

This chart shows how Tennessee's unemployment rate has fared since the early days of the Great Recession:

U.S. Department of Energy

The atomic bombs that detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 brought a horrific, devastating war to a close.

But it also represented the instant and complete annihilation of two cities,  the brutal death of approximately 185,000 Japanese civilians* and the dawn of the nuclear weapons age.

In the 69 years since the first bomb fell over Hiroshima, pro- and anti-nuclear forces have used these two points to engage each other in a heated debate over the ethical necessity of nuclear weapons and their proliferation.