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

Pat Summitt may have been the most visible face of the Lady Vols, but for 28 years, Joan Cronan was the engine that moved the women's athletic program at the University of Tennessee.  A tireless ambassador for women's athletics, Cronan built the Lady Vols program into one of the most recognizable and respected in the country.   

Since the middle of May, we've been asking folks from all around East Tennessee to answer the question "What keeps you up at night?" in ten words or fewer.  

With approximately 650 responses so far, we've begun combing through the responses and identifying and exploring some interesting trends and ideas.   

John Rawlston/Times Free Press

Federal, state and local law enforcement authorities are digging into the life and history of Mohammod Abdulazeez, trying to find clues that might explain why the 24-year-old went on a shooting spree at two military offices in Chattanooga on Thursday.

At a press briefing Friday, FBI agent Ed Reinhold told reporters that Abdulazeez had at least two "long" guns, such as rifles or shotguns, and at least one handgun. He declined to elaborate.

Associated Press

Law enforcement officials in Chattanooga say four U.S. Marines are dead following a shooting at a military recruiting center this morning.  The shooter is also dead.  Three others were wounded.

Authorities say the fatal shooting took place at a Naval Reserve recruiting facility near Amnicola Highway.  Police say they "neutralized" the gunman at the facility after he opened fire on another recruiting location approximately 15 miles away.  

No one was killed at the first location.   

OK, you don't have to be a nerd, nor do you have to love science to enjoy The Method with Brandon Hollingsworth.  On the last Wednesday of each month, The Method examines the intersection of science and society.  It's science for all of us!

(7:34 p.m. ET, Friday, July 3, 2015)

Authorities say it is now safe for thousands of Blount County residents to return to their homes and businesses following their evacuation from an area west of downtown Maryville.  Between 5000-6000 residents were evacuated after a CSX tanker car carrying acrylonitrile burst into flames just before midnight Wednesday. 

  In the month since we launched WUOT's Tenn Words project, we've received more than 400 responses to the question "What keeps you up at night?".

WUOT's Brittany Crocker has spent a great deal of time loading those responses into a spreadsheet, assigning various "topic" tags to each response and combing through the results so that we can identify any trends that might arise.

Music lovers from around the world are making the annual pilgrimage to the tiny town of Manchester, Tenn. for the four-day Bonnaroo Festival, which starts Thursday.  This year's lineup of musical acts includes Billy Joel, Mumford & Sons, DeadMau5, Florence and the Machine and dozens more.  

University of Tennessee School of Music instructor Dr. Kelly Thomas died Sunday night after suffering an allergic reaction to a wasp sting.   Thomas was 40 years old.

In a message sent out to School of Music faculty, students, staff and alumni, Director Jeff Pappas referred to Thomas as "our beloved tuba professor".

  As a journalist, one of my favorite questions has always been "What keeps you up at night?"  When posed to someone in a position of power, the answer can humanize the experience of governing, while exposing specific concerns that may still need our attention.

Beyond that, someone's honest answer to that question can open a discussion about either our shared concerns as a society or those issues and fears that make each of us unique.

But what, exactly, does the question mean?