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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Climate Change
4:30 am
Fri October 11, 2013

UT Study: Turtles May Have Trouble Adapting To Climate Change

Eastern Box Turtle
Credit wikipedia.com

Over the past 320,000 years, turtles in North America have survived through numerous fluctuations in global temperature.  When the temperature dropped, they moved to a warmer climate and if it started to get too hot, they headed North.  While some turtle species were unable to make the move, the successful species migrated an average of 45 miles for each degree of temperature change. 

Today’s turtles may not have that option.

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Federal Government Shutdown
2:09 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

Group Claims Smokies Shutdown Costing $2M Per Day

Credit nps.gov

A report prepared by a group representing retired Park Service employees claims the federal shutdown is costing East Tennessee and Western North Carolina approximately two million dollars a day in lost revenue.

The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees (CNPSR) report released Thursday used October 2012 attendance figures for twelve of the leading national parks and attempted to calculate the amount of money those visitors would have spent if the parks had been open this year. 

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Car-Deer Collisions
4:30 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Car-Deer Collisions On The Rise In Tennessee

Credit tn.gov/twra/wildlife

Data from the Tennessee State Highway Patrol suggest cars and deer are crossing paths more frequently and in some cases, the results can be deadly.

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James White Parkway
2:48 pm
Tue October 8, 2013

Supporters Of James White Extension Fail In Attempt To Revive Controversial Roadway

Construction barrels and barricades discourage drivers from continuing south on the James White Parkway in South Knoxville. Recent decisions by the Transportation Planning Organization will likely ensure a five-mile section of the roadway beyond the barricades will remain unfinished.
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

As long as it still has a pulse, the James White Parkway extension isn’t dead.  Not yet.  But as of today, it appears to be one step closer.

Supporters of the controversial road attempted to pass a motion before the Transportation Planning Organization’s technical committee this morning that would have moved the project back onto the TPO’s long-range plan.  In late August, the TPO voted to abandon the decades-old project.  This morning’s motion by Sevier County Communications Coordinator Perrin Anderson represented an attempt to reverse that decision. 

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Fatal Bus Crash
3:39 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Eight Killed When Church Bus Crosses I-40 Median

Credit Paul Efird, knoxnews.com

The Tennessee Highway Patrol reports eight people have died and another 14 were injured as the result of a collision between a passenger bus, a tractor-trailer and a Chevy Tahoe SUV on westbound I-40 in Jefferson County.  

The accident happened at approximately 2:00pm Wednesday near the I-81 split.  The bus was carrying members of the Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, NC, on their way home after attending a Christian festival in Gatlinburg. 

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AP Exams
4:30 am
Mon September 30, 2013

State To Pay AP Exam Fees For Some Knox High School Students

Credit collegeboard.org

Tennessee Department of Education officials will be in East Knox County today to launch a state-funded pilot program that will pick up the tab for some high school students taking Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Successful completion of the $89 end-of-course exams is a requirement for students hoping to get college credit for their AP classes.

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Coal Ash
4:30 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Summit Organizers To Push For Federal Regulation Of Coal Ash

Mounds of coal ash waste fill a creek following a 2008 spill at the TVA's Kingston Fossil Plant
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

In 2008, a storage wall at the TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant in East Tennessee collapsed, dumping more than a billion gallons of coal ash waste into the surrounding rivers and community.   The wet, gray sludge covered more than 300 acres, killed thousands of fish, destroyed some nearby homes and filled the Emory and Clinch Rivers to their banks.

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Obamacare
12:14 pm
Wed September 25, 2013

Tennesseans May Pay Some Of The Nation’s Lowest ACA Health Insurance Rates

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

  On October 1, the federal government will move forward with the next stage of the Affordable Care Act.  Throughout the country, on-line marketplaces will open up, offering detailed information on health care plans available to qualified customers.  As the date approaches, the questions are already piling up:  Will I qualify?  How will the exchanges work?  What choices will I have?  What will my plan cover?  And how much will I be expected to pay for health insurance?

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Knoxville City Primary
2:57 pm
Fri September 20, 2013

Voter Participation In Knoxville Primary Reaching Historically Low Levels

Credit WUOT, Matt Shafer Powell

There are 90,168 eligible voters who can cast ballots in the Knoxville City Council primary, which ends with Tuesday’s election.

As Early Voting closed Thursday evening, only 713 Knoxvillians had actually done so.  That’s a turnout rate short of 1%. 

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Lucas Richman
3:46 pm
Thu September 19, 2013

Maestro Lucas Richman To Leave KSO

Credit Knoxville Symphony

Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Conductor and Music Director Lucas Richman has announced he will be leaving the orchestra following the 2014-2015 season, his 12th in Knoxville.  Richman is currently under contract through 2014, but KSO officials say he has agreed to continue with the symphony an additional year. 

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