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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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ORNL
4:00 pm
Mon December 30, 2013

ORNL Employees Preparing To Leave Lab At Year’s End

Credit ornl.gov

For some employees of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, these last few days of December are bittersweet.  As of January 1, they’ll no longer be employed at the lab.

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High School Equivalency
4:30 am
Thu December 26, 2013

Tennessee To Offer Alternative To GED Starting In 2014

Credit state.nj.us

 Since 1942, the General Education Development (GED) exam has been a valuable tool for students who didn’t earn a traditional high school diploma.  But recent changes in the administration of the exam have moved the state of Tennessee to offer an alternative.

The changes began in earnest when Pearson VUE, the company that administers the exam, announced the cost of the exam would increase in Tennessee from $75 to $120.  More importantly, it would only be available on-line.  

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College Graduation
1:15 pm
Mon December 23, 2013

Grant To Encourage TN Students To Graduate Sooner

Credit commons.wikimedia.org

 Tennessee has been named one of three states to receive a million-dollar grant to address the length of time it takes for a college student to graduate.

In most of the state’s four-year colleges and universities, it takes the average student about five years to earn a bachelor’s degree.  And it takes the average student at a two-year college approximately four years to earn an associate’s degree.

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Christmas 2013
4:30 am
Mon December 23, 2013

Short Shopping Season Forces Retailers To Scramble

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

As Holiday shopping seasons go, this has been a strange one.

For starters, Thanksgiving came six days later this year than last.  “That’s significant,” says Ann Fairhurst, a retail professor and head of the Department of Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism Management at the University of Tennessee.  “That’s six fewer days that the retailers have to capture those dollars and so they’re really pushing promotions all the way to Christmas.”

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Kingston Fossil Plant spill
1:56 pm
Fri December 20, 2013

TVA “Looking Ahead” As Ash Spill Anniversary Looms

Swan Pond Road in Harriman overlooks a sea of coal ash following the December 2008 spill of ash from the TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant.
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

It was one of the darkest moments in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s long history. 

Residents of the Swan Pond community living near the TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant awoke early on the morning of December 22, 2008 to a sea of gray sludge barreling its way through the community.  More than a billion gallons of coal ash being stored in a nearby pond had broken through a retaining wall and blanketed more than 300 acres around the plant, destroying homes, killing fish and filling local waterways with a thick muck laden with toxic materials.  

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K-25
2:26 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Crews Complete Demolition Of K-25 Plant In Oak Ridge

The K-25 building in Oak Ridge was once the world's largest building under one roof.
Credit osti.gov

 An important link to Oak Ridge’s nuclear history no longer exists.

This morning, crews completed the demolition of the K-25 plant, the giant U-shaped building that once served as the nation’s main source of bomb-grade uranium.  At the time it was built, the K-25 plant was the world’s largest building under one roof.

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