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.


Gender Disparity
4:35 pm
Tue April 8, 2014

Study Claims Gender Pay Gap Increasing In Tenn


A national lobbying organization that advocates for equal pay between men and women claims gender disparity in Tennessee grew deeper during the past year. 

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Religious Freedom
4:30 am
Mon April 7, 2014

After-School Program Agrees To Train Employees After Bible Incident

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  The ACLU says administrators at a public after-school program in Middle Tennessee have agreed to train their staff on constitutional issues after one student was told he couldn’t read the Bible during free reading time.

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Urban Sprawl
5:46 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Tennessee Cities Among Worst For Urban Sprawl


A new report that ranks American cities on their ability to contain urban sprawl had few kind words for Tennessee’s largest cities, ranking most of them among the country’s worst.

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Spring Fund Drive 2014
1:48 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

An Audio Message For Dogs and Cats

It's Pet Pledge Day!  This is the day to celebrate and honor our animal-type companions with a pledge of support to WUOT.  

WUOT's Director of News Content Matt Shafer Powell has the following messages for our canine and feline fans:

Click here if you're a dog

Click here if you're a cat

Click here to contribute

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Knox County Schools
11:37 am
Mon March 31, 2014

After Year Of Tension, McIntyre Requests Teacher Raises


Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre is requesting a raise for teachers in next year’s budget after a year in which he often found himself squarely in their crosshairs.

The budget going before the school board this evening will contain a proposal to raise teacher salaries in Knox County by three percent.  Currently, the average Knox County teacher earns $45,609, which places the system 38th among Tennessee’s public school districts.

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Death Penalty
3:59 pm
Thu March 27, 2014

Death Penalty Bill Could Lead To More Electrocutions

Tennessee's electric chair, nicknamed "Old Sparky" is seen in this 1999 photo.
Credit AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

  A bill passed by House and Senate committees on Wednesday would ease restrictive language that has kept the Department of Correction from using the electric chair as a means to execute death row inmates.

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Daylight Saving Time
4:08 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Bill To Eliminate Standard Time Dies In Tenn. House

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  A bill that would have made Daylight Saving Time permanent in Tennessee has failed to pass a House committee after facing resistance from East Tennesseans.

The bill would have eliminated the biannual “Spring Forward/Fall Back” switch from standard to daylight time and back.  The bill’s sponsors say most Tennesseans are in favor of the idea, but acknowledge the bulk of that support comes from Middle and West Tennessee, two regions located in the Central Time Zone.

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Red Light cameras
4:30 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Oak Ridge To Take Another Stab At Red Light Camera Contract

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  UPDATE:  Oak Ridge city council rejected the resolution to extend the contract and the cameras will be removed when the contract expires on April 21.

Oak Ridge city council members will decide whether to extend the city’s red light camera contract tonight after failing to resolve the issue at an earlier meeting.

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Oak Ridge Animal Shelter
3:18 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Animal Shelter To Reopen Thursday After Death Of 30 Dogs


The Oak Ridge Animal Shelter will reopen Thursday after a “difficult” week that included the death of 30 dogs, all euthanized to fight a deadly, highly-contagious virus.

“It was very tough (on the shelter employees),” said Police Lt. Robin Smith.  “They bonded with those animals.” 

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1:55 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Some Still Oppose Toned-Down Meth Bill

A watered-down anti-meth bill passed by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee last week would restrict the purchase of over-the-counter pseudoephedrine to 44.8 grams per year. Some groups say that's still too restrictive.
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  Last week, members of Tennessee’s House Criminal Justice Subcommittee passed a toned-down version of Governor Bill Haslam’s Anti-Meth Production Act.  But some opponents of the bill say the new version is still too restrictive.

Haslam’s proposal would limit individuals to 14.4 grams of the popular allergy and cold medicine pseudoephedrine per year.  Any amount beyond that limit would require a prescription.  Under pressure from pharmaceutical companies and groups like the American Association of Retired Persons, House members increased the limit to 44.8 grams per year.  

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