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.


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

Car-Deer Collisions On The Rise In Tennessee


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,

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


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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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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Union County Feud
12:53 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

Knox County Schools Security Officer Arrested Following Deadly Feud

Michael Woodby (left) and Kevin Waggoner (right) confront each other in a video shot by Waggoner and submitted to local news outlets. Waggoner has been arrested and faces a criminal homicide charge in Woodby's death.
Credit Kevin Lee Waggoner via the

A Knox County school security officer has been arrested  after allegedly shooting and killing his Union County neighbor Monday night.  Kevin Waggoner of Luttrell has been charged with criminal homicide.

A spokesperson for the Knox County Schools would not reveal the location of the school where Waggoner works.  Waggoner has been employed by the school system for slightly more than two years. 

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Speed Limits
4:30 am
Mon September 16, 2013

City Looks To Public For Speeding Solution

Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

The City of Knoxville tried building speed bumps and rumble strips.  It put up new speed limit signs and in some cases, lowered speed limits.  It even put police patrols on a rotation.  But nothing seems to prevent lead-footed drivers from tearing through the city's neighborhoods and down its side streets.

So city officials are looking to residents of those neighborhoods for ideas.

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