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.


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


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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Same-sex benefits
7:56 pm
Tue November 19, 2013

Same-sex Benefits Ordinance Clears Final Hurdle in Chattanooga


With a 5-to-3 vote Tuesday night, Chattanooga city council approved an ordinance on second reading that officially makes the city the third in Tennessee to extend city employee benefits to unmarried domestic partners, either gay or straight.  The ordinance also updates Chattanooga’s discrimination clause to prohibit the city from firing workers based on sexual orientation or gender identity and protects them from workplace harassment. 

After months of fiery public debate, the council approved the first reading of the ordinance last week by a single vote.

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Red Light Cameras
10:44 am
Tue November 19, 2013

Oak Ridge Red Light Scam Turns Out To Be Fake

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

In a press alert sent to local media Monday night, Oak Ridge Police Chief James Akagi described an email phishing scam in which the recipient was informed of a red light camera violation and given a false hyperlink to see photos of the violation and pay the fine.  Akagi’s alert suggested those receiving the email should immediately delete it.

As it turns out, no such scam existed. 

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Alexander Inn
2:32 pm
Thu November 14, 2013

Oak Ridge’s Alexander Inn Returning To Former Glory

A postcard of Oak Ridge's historic Alexander Inn
East Tennessee Preservation Alliance

The first time Rick Dover stepped foot into Oak Ridge’s Alexander Inn, he fell through the floor.  “It was completely rotted and it had leaking roofs and windows and a complete lack of any care or maintenance,” he says.  “It was leaning and rotting and falling and it would not have gone much longer.” 

Dover’s company, Family Pride Corporation, is now responsible for renovating the abandoned, dilapidated building and turning it into an assisted living facility.  Dover says he hopes to open the facility in the summer of 2014. 

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11:11 am
Wed November 13, 2013

Dante loves public radio on WUOT! Do you?

Dante, with two of his best friends--- Chie, his BFF from Japan, and his tongue.

Call us today at 974-5500 or donate on-line at!

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Same Sex Benefits
7:47 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Chattanooga Moves Step Closer To Approving Domestic Partner Benefits

Chattanooga City Councilman Chris Anderson's proposal to extend city employee benefits to gay and unmarried couples passed Tuesday night in a 5-4 vote.

After weeks of fervent public debate, rallies, packed hearings and letters to the editor, an ordinance to extend benefits to the unmarried partners of Chattanooga city workers came down to one vote.

With a five-to-four vote, Chattanooga moved one step closer to becoming Tennessee’s third city to extend city employee benefits to gay and unmarried couples.  Collegedale and Knoxville both adopted similar policies earlier this year.

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Trevor Bayne
1:19 pm
Tue November 12, 2013

Knoxville’s Trevor Bayne Diagnosed With Multiple Sclerosis


 Popular NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne says he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease that attacks the central nervous system.  However, the 22 year-old Knoxville native says doctors at the Mayo Clinic have cleared him to continue driving.

"I've never been more driven to compete," Bayne said in a statement released Tuesday morning. “I am in the best shape I've ever been in, and I feel good. There are currently no symptoms, and I'm committed to continuing to take the best care of my body as possible."

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Sex Trafficking
5:52 am
Mon November 11, 2013

Tennessee Earns High Marks For Aggressive New Sex Trafficking Laws

Advocates for tougher sex trafficking laws rally in Maryland

Each year, the non-profit group Shared Hope International takes a comprehensive look at sex trafficking laws in each of the fifty states and grades them based on how well they’re designed to protect minors.  The Protected Innocence Challenge Report Card hasn’t always been kind to Tennessee.  In each of the last two years, the state received a “C”grade.

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Thousand Cankers Disease
4:00 am
Fri November 8, 2013

Tree-killing Disease Continues To Show Up In More ET Counties

A black walnut tree with missing leaves near the top could be a sign that the tree is infected with Thousand Cankers Disease.

This week, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture added Rhea and Morgan counties to a list of East Tennessee counties under quarantine after the discovery of Thousand Cankers Disease in black walnut trees. 

Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) is a condition that robs black walnut trees of their nutrients.  It’s transported from tree to tree by the Walnut Twig Beetle, a tiny bug that burrows into the tree, bringing with it a deadly fungus.   Experts suggest the tree can die within a few years of being infected. 

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