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.

Pages

Marijuana
3:51 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Marijuana Supporters In TN Hoping This Is The Year

Credit urbancusp.com

Supporters of medical marijuana in Tennessee say a change in popular attitudes about pot may help them pass a bill decriminalizing the drug.

Read more
Propane
4:11 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Governor Temporarily Eases Restrictions On Propane Delivery

Credit propanepressure.com

With propane in short supply and Tennessee bracing for another arctic cold snap, Governor Bill Haslam has issued an Executive Order that should speed up propane delivery over the next few days.

The State of Emergency declaration means truckers hauling propane in Tennessee are now allowed to exceed federal limits on the amount of time they spend on the road.   Currently, those regulations restrict propane drivers to 70 hours per week, with no more than 11 hours on the road at a time.  They must also leave 10 consecutive hours between shifts.

Read more
Suicide
12:39 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Suicides Rival Traffic Deaths In Tennessee

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  For years, motor vehicle accidents represented the leading cause of injury death in Tennessee, with suicides running a distant second.  The Status of Suicide in Tennessee 2014 report released this week by the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network suggests the two are now about equal.

In 2012, the last year in which state-specific data are available, 958 Tennesseans died on the roads.  That same year, 956 took their own lives.

Read more
Election 2014
4:30 am
Wed January 15, 2014

New Program Designed To Make Sense Of Judicial Ballot

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

Every eight years, appellate court judges in Tennessee are required to run for re-election. Because the eight-year cycle ends in 2014, this year’s ballot will contain a long list of justices and judges.  For the typical voter, many of those names will be unfamiliar. 

That’s why Tennessee will be one of only eight states to participate in a campaign called Informed Voters—Fair Judges, sponsored by the Tennessee Bar Association, the National Association of Women Judges and the League of Women Voters.

Read more
3rd Congressional District
4:38 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

Weston Wamp To Challenge Fleischmann Again

Credit votesmart.org

The 2012 Republican primary for Tennessee's 3rd district seat provided one of the more intriguing races of the year.  After wrapping up his freshman term in Congress, Chuck Fleischmann faced a challenge from a host of GOP contenders, including Mayfield Dairy President Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp, whose father Zach Wamp held the seat from 1994-2010.   

Fleischmann won the heated primary and went on to easily beat Democrat Mary Headrick in the general election.  

Read more
Flu Season
1:03 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

Knox County To Offer Free Flu Vaccine

Credit prevention.com

With Tennessee's death toll from the 2013-2014 flu season increasing, Knox County is responding by offering free vaccinations beginning Monday at two of its clinics.  Starting 8:00 am, Knox County residents can receive a free vaccination at the main Health Department office on Cameron Avenue or at the West Clinic on Old Cedar Bluff Road.  The vaccine will be offered until supplies run out.

Read more
Same-sex benefits
6:59 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Chattanooga Voters To Decide Same-Sex Benefits Issue

Credit WRCBTV.com

The Chattanooga City Council’s decision to avoid discussion on a same-sex benefits ordinance Tuesday means the issue will now go before the voters in an August referendum.

After months of heated debate, packed public forums and two close city council votes, the ordinance was passed in November.  At that point, Chattanooga joined Collegedale and Knoxville as the third city in Tennessee to offer domestic partnership benefits to its city workers. 

That distinction didn’t last long.

Read more
Regas Restaurant
5:19 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

Group Buys Knoxville's "Oldest Restaurant"

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  A group known as Regas Property LLC has reportedly purchased the building that once housed the business known as “Knoxville’s Oldest Restaurant”.  A representative of the group tells the Knoxville News Sentinel its members purchased the Regas Restaurant property at 318 N. Gay Street for $2 million to prevent someone else from buying it and demolishing it.

Read more
University of Tennessee
4:30 am
Tue January 7, 2014

City Expected To Relinquish Control Of Some UT Streets

Johnny Majors Drive and Lake Loudoun Boulevard are among several campus streets that could be transferred from the city of Knoxville to the University of Tennessee.
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  If you’ve spent much time on the University of Tennessee campus, you probably know where Lake Loudoun Boulevard is.  Or Pat Head Summitt Street.  Or Johnny Majors Drive.  But you may not know that the university isn’t the one that makes the final decisions on how those roads are maintained or improved.  That responsibility lies with the City of Knoxville.

That may change tonight.

Read more
GSMNP
4:00 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

Ditmanson Hanging Up Hat After 10 Years At GSMNP

Credit GreatSmokies75th.org

When Dale Ditmanson moved from Philadelphia in 2004 to take over the Superintendent duties at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, he received a valuable bit of advice from former superintendent Karen Wade.  “She told me, ‘be prepared to be embraced by the community,’” Ditmanson says.

Read more

Pages