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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Renegade Mountain homicide
4:01 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

Cumberland County Man Arrested In Quadruple Homicide

Credit Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

Police have arrested a Crab Orchard man for the murder of four young people on Renegade Mountain in Cumberland County.

TBI investigators say they arrested 26 year-old Jacob Allen Bennett Friday.  Bennett was already in custody in Rhea County after being arrested Thursday night on a parole violation.  . 

The bodies of Danielle Jacobson, 22, Steven Presley, 17, Dominic Davis, 17 and John Lajeunesse, 17 were discovered in a parked vehicle Thursday morning by a resident of this former resort community.  All four victims had been shot to death.

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Gay Street Parking
4:30 am
Fri September 13, 2013

City Of Knoxville Targets Gay Street Parking Violators

Parking signs on Gay Street say there's a two-hour limit, but the limit is rarely enforced. That's about to change.
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

The signs next to the free parking spaces on Gay Street say there's a two-hour limit between 6:00 am and midnight.  However, the more savvy downtown drivers realized a while ago that two-hour limit was rarely enforced. 

That's about to change.

Beginning Sunday, September 15, the Public Building Authority will take over Gay Street parking enforcement duties from the Knoxville Police Department. And while the KPD was often too busy to enforce the two-hour limit, the PBA is making it a priority.

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Zeb Mountain
4:11 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

Judge Approves Agreement That Shuts Down Controversial Coal Mine

Credit ILoveMountains.org

Over the past decade, National Coal LLC's Zeb Mountain coal mine on the Scott/Campbell county border has become a rallying point for environmental groups and East Tennessee residents opposed to the practice known as "mountain-top removal".   Mountain top removal is a process by which the summit or summit ridge of a mountain is removed to expose the coal seams that lie beneath.  After the coal is mined, the summit is replaced to mimic the original contour of the mountain.

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U.S. News & World Report Rankings
2:43 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

UT Campus Slips One Spot Away From Top 25 Goal—Or Does It?

UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek addresses the media to discuss the latest university rankings from U.S. News and World Report (09.10.13)
Credit WUOT News, Matt Shafer Powell

In 2010, then-Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee challenged the University of Tennessee with the goal of becoming a Top 25 public research university by the year 2020.  Since then, UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek has engaged in a relentless public campaign to make that happen. 

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Military Action in Syria
4:30 am
Mon September 9, 2013

Protestors Plan Anti-War Demonstration In Knoxville Today

Credit Stpeteforpeace.org

  Members of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) and others opposed to possible U.S. military action in Syria are planning to protest on a downtown Knoxville sidewalk this morning. 

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Jail Overcrowding
3:19 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

Roane County Jail Staves Off State Decertification; Cocke County Jail Not So Fortunate

The Cocke County Old Jail is located on the 3rd floor of the county's 83 year-old courthouse
Credit SeeMidTN.com

In two separate inspections this year, the Tennessee Corrections Institute (TCI) found Roane County Jail inmates packed into the facility, far beyond its official capacity.  The inspection reports noted a shortage of wash basins and toilets, especially in the women’s section of the jail.  For a jail built only four years ago to alleviate overcrowding, the threat of decertification loomed large.  

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Labor Day Weekend
3:58 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

Knoxville Braces For Busy Weekend

Credit news.tn.gov

The City of Knoxville is preparing for what has evolved into the busiest weekend of the year. 

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Cherokee Bear Zoo
4:30 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Animal Rights Group Increases Pressure On Cherokee NC Zoo

Images of captive bears at the Chief Saunooke Bear Park in Cherokee, NC eventually led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to shut it down.
Credit peta.org

The national animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is turning up the heat on a small privately-owned roadside zoo in Cherokee, North Carolina, where, PETA officials say, the bears are forced to live in stark, concrete pits with little or no natural stimulation.   PETA says it will focus more of its attention on the Cherokee Bear Zoo now that a similar attraction in Cherokee has been shut down.

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Justice For All
1:33 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Justice For All: The Sum And Its Parts

Sixth District Public Defender Mark Stephens opened the Knox County Public Defender's Office upon being elected in 1990.
Credit WUOT, Matt Shafer Powell

In Part Two of WUOT's original series "Justice For All", Matt Shafer Powell takes us to the Knox County Community Law Office on Liberty Street in Knoxville.  It's the home of nearly two dozen public defense attorneys who are assigned to handle criminal cases for defendants who can't afford an attorney on their own.  But as we discover, the nationally-known organization offers much more than legal representation; it offers a chance for its clients to improve their lives.

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Justice For All
12:03 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

WUOT Original Series: Justice For All

The Knox County Public Defenders staff is headquartered at the Community Law Office on Liberty Street in Knoxville
Credit WUOT, Matt Shafer Powell

If you’ve ever watched a cop show on TV, you’re probably familiar with the line in the Miranda Warning that guarantees an attorney for those defendants who can’t afford one. 

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