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.


Fort Sanders shooting
4:58 pm
Wed February 5, 2014

Knoxville Police Snare Suspect In Fort Sanders Shooting

Brandon Middlebrook is suspected of shooting two people in an apartment near the UT campus Tuesday night
Credit Knox County Sheriff Department

The Knoxville Police Department has named a suspect in a Tuesday night shooting near the University of Tennessee campus that sent three people to the hospital for injuries.  Police say 25 year-old Brandon Middlebrook of Knoxville will face a variety of charges, including two counts of attempted first-degree murder.  Middlebrook has a long criminal history that includes charges of aggravated rape, aggravated burglary, theft, aggravated assault, vandalism and attempted robbery.   

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Winter 2014
3:48 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

East TN Heating Bills Expected To Spike With Cold Temps


 With January heating bills showing up in mailboxes soon, East Tennesseans may want to prepare themselves for an unpleasant surprise.

In Oak Ridge, City Electric Director Jack Suggs says bills for those residents who use electric sources like heat pumps could jump 30 to 40 percent from their December bills.  And December bills were substantially higher than November’s. “People do need to be bracing themselves a little bit for sticker shock,” Suggs tells WUOT News, “and they need to be thinking about putting a little extra aside.”  

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5:16 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Deep Freeze Especially Hard On Knoxville's Homeless

Michael Barton is among the homeless who won't be staying in a shelter tonight.
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

Huddled against the wind and snow in his black leather jacket and gray hoodie, Michael admits he doesn’t know where he’ll stay tonight.  When the temperatures dip into the single digits, as they’re supposed to do this evening, he tries to find a friend who’ll give up a sofa or a place on the floor.  But often, he finds himself sleeping outside.  “I don’t know where I’m going to stay,” he says, a toothpick and a cigarette bala

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Rural Homelessness
4:30 am
Mon January 27, 2014

Forum To Address Rural Homelessness In Rhea County


You expect to see homeless people in cities like Knoxville, Nashville, Chattanooga and Memphis. 

You probably don’t expect to find them in the small Rhea County town of Dayton (population 7313).   But they’re there.

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3:51 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Marijuana Supporters In TN Hoping This Is The Year


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

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4:11 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Governor Temporarily Eases Restrictions On Propane Delivery


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.

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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.

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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.

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

Weston Wamp To Challenge Fleischmann Again


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.  

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Flu Season
1:03 pm
Sun January 12, 2014

Knox County To Offer Free Flu Vaccine


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.

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