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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Cumberland Avenue Overhaul Project
6:00 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Work On Cumberland Strip To Begin Soon

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

The Cumberland Avenue overhaul project is about to make that all-important transition from discussion to construction.

Knoxville city officials say work on the stretch of road known locally as “the Strip” could begin by the first of June.  The Strip runs along the northern edge of the University of Tennessee campus between 16th Street and 22nd Street. 

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TVA
4:35 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

President’s Budget Suggests TVA Sale

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

(NOTE:  This story was updated on 6/4/14  to include revised debt figures)

For the second time in as many years, President Barack Obama’s budget contains a suggestion that the federal government rid itself of the Tennessee Valley Authority and its $26.3 billion debt.

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Campbell County Shooting
3:20 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Campbell County School Shooter To Go Free After Conviction on Lesser Charge

Kenneth Bartley Jr. was 14 years old in 2005 when he shot three school administrators, killing Assistant Principal Ken Bruce.
Credit WBIR.com

 Former Campbell County Comprehensive High School student Kenneth Bartley Jr. will go free today after a jury found him not guilty on one charge of first-degree felony murder and on two charges of attempted murder.

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LED Lights at TBA
4:30 am
Fri February 28, 2014

UT’s Thompson-Boling Arena To Debut Revolutionary LED Lights

New LED lighting boards line the catwalk at Thompson-Boling Arena prior to their installation.
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

You may not remember what you were doing on the evening of February 3, 2013.  But Andrew Wilhelm does.

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Campbell County Shooting
4:30 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Campbell County High Shooting Retrial Begins

Kenneth Bartley Jr. is accused of shooting three Campbell County Comprehensive High School officials in 2005. His retrial begins this week.
Credit knoxnews.com

The retrial of a former Campbell County Comprehensive High School student accused of shooting and killing an assistant principal in 2005 begins this week, more than eight years after the original crime was committed.

On November 8, 2005, Kenneth Bartley Jr. was 14 years old when he allegedly pulled out a gun and began shooting during a meeting with three administrators at his school.  Principal Gary Seale and Assistant Principal Jim Pierce were wounded.  Assistant Ken Bruce was killed.

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Y-12 protesters
9:18 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Y-12 Protesters To Spend Next Years In Prison

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  Michael Walli, Greg Boertje-Obed and Sister Megan Rice all knew they could eventually spend time in prison for breaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.  But on that dark July night in 2012, they weren’t even sure if they would make it to dawn.  Breaking into a high-security facility like Y-12 was considered a suicide mission.

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Y-12 protesters
4:30 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Y-12 Protesters To Finally Learn Fate Today

Michael Walli, Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed (L-to-R) each face up to nine years in prison for the 2012 break-in at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.
Credit transformnowplowshares.wordpress.com

  The last time Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed were in the federal courtroom in Knoxville, they assumed they would either be set free or sentenced to prison for breaking into the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

Old Man Winter had different ideas.

With a snowstorm bearing down on East Tennessee on January 28, the courtroom was closed before the three nuclear protesters could learn their fate.  

They’ll be back in that same courtroom today.  With temperatures predicted in the low 60’s, another snow delay isn’t likely.  

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Religious Freedom Act
4:52 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

ACLU "Surprised" By Religious Freedom Act

Sen. Brian Kelsey introduced the Religious Freedom Act last week, only to withdraw his sponsorship Thursday.
Credit memphisflyer.com

The American Civil Liberties Union’s Nashville office usually has a pretty good idea of what bills they’ll need to address before they’re introduced.  The Religious Freedom Act was an exception.

Introduced shortly before last week’s filing deadline, HB2467 and SB2566 would protect business owners from having to provide goods or services to gay couples “in furtherance of a civil union, domestic partnership, or marriage not recognized by the Tennessee Constitution.” 

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Winter 2014
10:21 am
Thu February 13, 2014

Half Foot Of Snow in Knox Most In 21 Years

Pat Summitt's statue on the University of Tennessee campus beams with pride, despite a new hat and coat made of snow, courtesy of an overnight winter storm.
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

Schools, government offices and even the University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus are closed today in the wake of a winter storm that dumped nearly six inches of snow at McGee-Tyson airport overnight. 

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Winter 2014
4:30 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Cell Phone Battery Often Overlooked In Winter Prep

Traffic comes to a standstill outside Atlanta, Georgia after a January 28 snowstorm caught the city, and thousands of unprepared drivers, by surprise.
Credit aol.com

Most of the advice we hear when preparing to travel during a winter storm has remained unchanged for generations.  For instance, fill up your tank with gas, carry extra blankets, a flashlight, and some food and water. 

But here’s something Grandma never had to consider—make sure your cell phone battery is ready.

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