Matt Bush

News Director

Matt Bush joined Blue Ridge Public Radio as news director in August 2016.  Excited at the opportunity the build up the news service for both stations as well as help launch BPR News, Matt made the jump to Western North Carolina from Washington D.C.  For the 8 years prior to coming to Asheville, he worked at the NPR member station in the nation's capital as a reporter and anchor.  Matt primarily covered the state of Maryland, including 6 years of covering the statehouse in Annapolis.  Prior to that, he worked at WMAL in Washington and Metro Networks in Pittsburgh, the city he was born and raised in.

Matt has a B.A. in broadcasting from Point Park College in Pittsburgh.  His M.A. is in media entrepreneurship from American University in D.C.  In May 2017, he will graduate from the 35th class of Leadership Asheville at UNC-Asheville.

Ways to Connect

Asheville native Jackie Grant is now president of the North Carolina Bar Association.  She was inaugurated at the NCBA's annual meeting last month.  The A.C.

The Martin Luther King Association of Asheville & Buncombe County is partnering on a new scholarship program with UNC-Asheville.  The university will offer up to $5-thousand in grants for students who are nominated by the local MLK Association.  Dr.

This July, listeners of Blue Ridge Public Radio will hear some new programming - while a public radio staple is moving to a new time in our lineup.

Former Asheville police officer Chris Hickman will not face federal charges for his role in the beating of an unarmed black man last August, the office of U.S.

Voters in North Carolina this fall will decide plenty of high stakes elections for local, state, and federal offices.  But that might only be the half of it – as several proposed amendments to the state constitution may also come before voters.

Matt Bush BPR

30 years ago Friday, the movie Bull Durham premiered.  The film merged baseball and romantic comedy, all while showcasing the state of North Carolina.  Filming locations in the state included Durham, Raleigh, Greensboro, Wilson, Old Fort, and Asheville.

Matt Bush BPR

Following a closed session meeting Monday morning, Buncombe County commissioners announced manager Mandy Stone will retire on July 1st after just 11 months on the job.  Her decision comes after a whirlwind of actions - and responses to those actions - following the announcement of further federal charges against her immediate predecessor Wanda Greene last Tuesday.  Stone took over the position when Greene retired last June.

Former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene faces 23 new charges including wire fraud, federal program fraud, and money laundering.  Those charges were announced in a federal indictment this week.  They're in addition to the fraud, conspiracy, and embezzlement charges that were already filed against her in April for allegedly misusing county-owned credit cards to purchase personal goods.  Her son Michael, also a former Buncombe County employee, was also charged in that case.

Matt Bush BPR

The French Broad River winds its way through Asheville and provides some of the most picturesque scenery in the region. It’s also a major driver of Western North Carolina’s booming tourism industry. 

So how healthy is this vital asset?  Hartwell Carson has a short answer and a long explanation to the question of how healthy is the French Broad River.  First, the short answer.  “It’s good.  It could be a lot better," says Carson.

Former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene faces a new round of federal charges including  money laundering and wire and federal program fraud.  Shortly after the new charges were announced Tuesday evening, Buncombe County announced it would sue Greene and her son Michael to recover money the county lost due to her alleged actions.

Matt Bush BPR

Western Carolina University is unveiling NCDataDashboard.org, an online resource that shows key economic indicators and trends for all 100 counties in North Carolina.  The site includes 12,000 unique data series according to the school, including information on employment, workforce, land, infrastructure and industry GDP.  That data is broken down county by county.  Two of those instrumental in creating the resource, WCU economics professors Angela Dills and Edward Lopez, joined BPR's Matt Bus

June 2018 Roundup

Jun 1, 2018

Our hosts take a look at some of the big topics in sports as June 2018 begins with BPR's Matt Bush - including the NFL's new national anthem policy making players stand or stay in the locker room during its performance, the recent Supreme Court ruling that will pave the way for legalized sports gambling across the U.S., and the Stanley Cup Finals which pit the long-suffering Washington Capitals against the upstart Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team on the cusp of winning a championship in its first season.  This was orginally recorded as a Facebook Live chat on May 30th, 2018.

UNC-Asheville

Dr. Nancy Cable has been named the new chancellor of UNC-Asheville.  She replaces Dr. Mary Grant, who left at the end of 2017 after three years on the job.  Dr. Joe Urgo served as the interim chancellor of the school since Grant's departure.  Cable will be the 8th chancellor in the school's history.  She starts the job on August 15th.

Matt Bush BPR

For the first time in several days, Western North Carolina is under no weather warning.  But thunderstorms are in the forecast Friday and over the weekend, leaving authorities to urge residents to stay alert and vigilant for flash flooding and landslides.  During a break in the rain Thursday morning and afternoon, cleanup efforts were able to take hold, but a major water leak in Black Mountain lead to a boil water advisory being issued.

With heavy rains expected to return over the holiday weekend, authorities in Polk County are urging residents in certain areas to voluntarily evacuate.  This comes after last weekend's flooding and landslides that killed one person in the county, and authorities say they're worried should another catastrophic event occur, it might take them days to reach those affected.

John and Marcia continue their conversation with sports economist Andy Schwarz about the Historical Basketball League - a proposed sports league that would be the first to pay college baksetball players as they receive their education.  In this episode, our hosts and guest focus on how the NCAA might react to the league.

(Music featured includes Free Fall by Bio Unit)  

In a move that supporters believe will aid in reducing racial disparities in the city, Asheville police will soon have to get written consent to search vehicles they’ve pulled over instead of just asking for it as is done currently.  City council approved the switch Tuesday by a 5-2 vote.  Cases where police have ‘probable cause’ to search a vehicle that’s been stopped will not be affected. 

The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina held its annual 'Power of the Purse' luncheon Tuesday.  Award-winning journalist and Latino USA host Maria Hinojosa was the keynote speaker for the event.  She spoke about immigration, the changing demographics of the U.S., and women in philanthropy.  The last part is the focus of 'Power of the Purse' (BPR is a media sponsor of the event), and its organizers announced that $450-thousand in grants will be awarded to groups that work to prevent domestic and sexual violence.

The Historical Basketball League (HBL) is a proposed sports league that would be the first to pay college players as they receive their education.  Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU's) would participate in the league, which is hoping to launch in either 2019 or 2020.  According to its website, the HBL "gives schools and athletes an option outside of the traditional NCAA model – providing a choice of whether to go "pro" while in college or to be amateur about it."  John and Marcia speak with sports economist Andy Schwarz, who is helping launch the league.

Blue Ridge Public Radio is continuing to expand its news coverage of Western North Carolina.  After a national search, BPR has hired a full-time regional reporter that will be based in Jackson County. The station has also expanded partnership with the Smoky Mountain News.

Buncombe County Schools

Buncombe County schools on Friday announced they will be closed on Wednesday, the same day teachers from across North Carolina will rally at the state capitol in Raleigh.  The district joins several other large public school systems in the state in closing that day, including Asheville City schools, which announced earlier this week it would be closing Wednesday.

Commencement ceremonies take place this Saturday on the campus of UNC-Asheville.  The school's interim chancellor Joe Urgo says this year's graduating class is the largest in recent memory, while the incoming class of freshman this fall is the largest in school history.  Urgo sat down with BPR's Matt Bush to discuss news at the school, including the search for a full-time chancellor (expect something by the end of May).  Urgo also discussed something he spoke about at a recent appearance in Western North Carolina by Margaret Spellings, the president of the University of North Carolina Syst

John and Marcia continue their conversation with Purdue University professors Eric Nauman and Tom Talavadge about their research into micro concussion in sports.  In this episode, they focus on how that research can be acted upon in football.

(Music featured includes We Are Saved by Borrtex)  

Matt Bush BPR

Asheville police sergeant Quentin Miller easily outdistanced four others for the Democratic nomination for Buncombe County sheriff.  

Asheville High School Facebook Page

Asheville City schools will close next Wednesday May 16th, becoming the latest district in North Carolina to shut down as teachers plan to rally that day at the state capitol in Raleigh for better pay, working conditions, and education funding.  The General Assembly convenes the 16th in Raleigh for its annual session.  The teacher rally is being organized by the state's association of educators.

Buncombe County district attorney Todd Williams defeated Ben Scales again, while Quentin Miller took home a very large and historic victory in the Democratic primary for Buncombe County sheriff.

Buncombe County Sheriff's Office

Electing a sheriff – even in one of North Carolina’s largest counties – doesn’t usually draw a lot of attention. But this year’s democratic primary in Buncombe County is different.  Voters will select a new sheriff for the first time in 12 years.  And law enforcement practices and reforms are center stage in the campaign because of an incident that took place within the county.

Raleigh has been the scene of a lot of partisan political discord this decade.  But the president of the University of North Carolina system says she’s thankful all that fighting has not impacted higher education funding.  Margaret Spellings says even in North Carolina’s polarized political atmosphere, selling members of the General Assembly on maintaining higher education funding isn’t real tough.

John's final football coaching job was at Purdue University, where he and Marcia met professors Eric Nauman and Tom Talavadge.  The duo had just finished a groundbreaking study on micro concussions by working with a high school football team in Indiana, and our hosts were blown away with what the research showed - so much so that it in many ways led to John losing his job.  In the first of two parts, the Shoops discuss with Nauman and Talavadge what their research discovered.

(Music featured includes Last Day Of High School by Borrtex)

Early voting is underway in North Carolina for the May 8th primary.  The early voting period runs until May 5th, and voters can find early voting locations by visiting their respective county's election boards website.  Federal, state, and local offices are all on the ballot this year.  One person who isn't is president Donald Trump.  But Western Carolina University political science professor Dr.

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