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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Maryville Sales Tax Increase
4:30 am
Tue December 10, 2013

Maryville Residents To Vote On Sales Tax Increase Today

Credit Blountweb.com (Steve Speer)

Voters in Maryville will head to the polls today to decide whether they want to pay more for any purchases they make within the city limits.  A “yes” vote on the sales tax proposal would raise the local sales tax in Maryville from 2.25% to 2.75%.  When combined with the 7.00% state sales tax on most non-food items, the cost of a $100 purchase in Maryville would increase by $.50.  

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James McIntyre
4:24 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Knox School Board Considering McIntyre Extension

Credit knoxschools.org

Tonight's vote on whether to extend Knox County Superintendent James McIntyre's contract through 2017 could go a long way toward determining how much confidence the school board has in his leadership abilities. 

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Health and Wellness
4:30 am
Fri December 6, 2013

Tennesseans Know How To Live Healthier—They Just Don’t Do It

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

A survey of 1200 Tennesseans shows they know the importance of eating right and exercising.  They know they shouldn’t smoke.  They even say they’re ready to make changes in their habits. 

But few are actually going through with it.

The survey was conducted on behalf of the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, part of Governor Bill Haslam’s Healthier Tennessee initiative.

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Death Penalty
12:59 pm
Thu December 5, 2013

Tennessee Requests Record Number Of Death Row Executions

Billy Ray Irick is scheduled to die by lethal injection for the 1985 rape and murder of the seven year-old Knoxville girl he was babysitting.
Credit Tennessee Department of Correction

In a state that has only executed six death row inmates since 1960, Tennessee appears ready to enter a period in which executions become more common.

The Tennessean reports the State Attorney General’s office recently petitioned the Tennessee Supreme Court to schedule ten executions, an unprecedented number.  One of those requests has been granted; Billy Ray Irick is scheduled to die January 15 for the 1985 rape and murder of a seven year-old Knoxville girl.

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University of Tennessee
1:03 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

UT To Raise Its Minimum Wage

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

The University of Tennessee announced today it will raise the starting minimum wage for its workers by $.50 per hour in January, with another $.50 raise to follow six months later. 

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Psychology
4:30 am
Tue December 3, 2013

Can Gut-Level Attitudes Predict Marital Success?

Credit magicalday.com

Ask a newlywed couple what they think about each other and chances are, they’ll present a rosy picture.  That’s not a surprise, since cultural norms suggest newlyweds should act as if they’re head-over-heels in love with each other.

But for some couples, it’s just that—an act.

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Men's Issues
4:00 pm
Thu November 28, 2013

Dialogue: Today's Man

Credit comicvine.com

What does it mean to be a man in the year 2013?  How does today’s man adjust to changing attitudes about sexuality, gender identity and masculinity?  How does it change the way he interacts with his family and circle of friends?  What’s the relationship between masculinity and violence, fatherhood, feminism and intimacy?  On this episode of Dialogue, Matt Shafer Powell speaks with Roane State Community College Psychology Professor Jim Doyle, who has spent decades researching the roles of men in American society. 

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Cell Phones
12:07 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Alexander Blasts Effort To Lift Cell Phone Ban

Credit npr.org

If Lamar Alexander is conflicted about the FCC's rule banning the use of cell phones on commercial flights, he hides it well.

In comments released Tuesday, Tennessee's senior senator vowed to introduce legislation to keep the ban in place if the FCC decides to remove it. 

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School Closings
4:35 am
Wed November 27, 2013

School Closings

School and Business Closings for Tuesday, March 25:

Closings via WBIR here 

Closings via WATE here 

Closings via WVLT here 

Closings via Knoxville News Sentinel here

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Rossini Festival
3:41 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

New Knoxville Street Fair Policy Won’t Affect Rossini Festival

Credit cityofknoxville.org

Huge street fairs can present all kinds of logistical and public safety problems.  So for the last few years, the city of Knoxville has been turning down requests for those types of events on Gay Street. The one obvious exception is the annual Rossini Festival, the street carnival that shuts down a large portion of Gay Street to accommodate as many as 100,000 visitors.

A new agreement between Rossini organizers Knoxville Opera and the city guarantees the festival will continue to be the one exception.

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