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.

Ways to Connect

WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

The University of Tennessee's McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture recently received a gift of 191 maps, some dating from the late 16th century.  Many of the older maps blend artistic renderings of sea monsters, sailing ships and native peoples with practical depictions of the physical landscape.  In short, the mapmakers put the "art" in "cartography".

That was not uncommon at the time, says Lindsey Waugh, Coordinator of Academic Programs at McClung.  "These maps represent expressions of civic pride, of national pride."

Amy-Jill Levine is a New Testament scholar who specializes in the teachings of Jesus Christ.

She's also Jewish.

"People do think it's weird that I'm a Jew and I happen to be an expert in the New Testament," she says.  "But when we think about that, Jesus is Jewish, all of his immediate followers are Jewish, the New Testament talks about Jews, so at the very basic level, studying the New Testament is studying Jewish history."

The Tennessee Senate Health and Welfare committee has officially killed a bill that would have provided health insurance to thousands of low-income Tennesseans.  The plan, known as Insure Tennessee, was being touted by Governor Bill Haslam as an alternative to the federal Affordable Care Act.  However, the administration couldn't get enough votes to push it through the Senate committee.  The Senate committee vote came only moments after House speaker Beth Harwell announced she didn't have enough votes to get the bill approved in the House.

WUOT's Dialogue program is alternately hosted by Matt Shafer Powell, Chrissy Keuper and Brandon Hollingsworth.  This live call-in program addresses a variety of issues important to Tennesseans and attempts to drill down to find the stories and the people behind the headlines.   In 2014, Dialogue featured live interviews on everything from homelessness and gay marriage to endangered animals and social media.  This particular episode explores such universal themes as racism, violence, friendship and forgiveness....


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.