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

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.

Chelsea Beck/NPR

President Trump is hosting French President Emmanuel Macron for a state visit this week. The two leaders are holding a news conference ahead of Tuesday night's state dinner. Watch their remarks live.  The press conference is scheduled to start around 11:45 Tuesday morning.

Matt Bush BPR

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper toured Western North Carolina Monday, and at his first stop he touted his latest budget proposal regarding school safety.  The governor says it would help with a problem that has been disrupting schools in the region the past two months. 

Matt Bush BPR

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper and his cabinet will meet Monday in Asheville, while also holding several events throughout the day in Western North Carolina.  The governor's office said in a press release the events, which include two stops on Tuesday as well, will focus on issues important to the region.

Asheville police say four people are dead and three others were injured in a shooting that occurred late Wednesday evening in West Asheville.  The suspect in the case, identified as 35-year-old Maurice Laron Garner, is among the deceased.  Police say he died from a self inflicted gunshot wound.  He was found in a vehicle not far from the residence on Hansel Avenue where the shooting took place.

Chelsea Beck/NPR

President Trump hosts a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Abe today -- scheduled for 6:00 pm Eastern time. The Prime Minister is meeting with the President and playing golf at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Among the points of discussion will be negotiations between the United States and North Korea and the recent visit to North Korea by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Local immigration advocates say there have been more arrests by federal Immigration & Customs Enforcement across Western North Carolina.  Those come after around 15 people were detained last weekend in Buncombe and Henderson Counties.  ICE spokesman Bryan Cox says the agency makes arrests on a daily basis as part of ongoing enforcement activity.  Appearing on The State Of Things Tuesday, Cox says ICE agents target specific individuals who are in the country undocumented and have criminal record

John and Marcia continue their talk with retired North Carolina Supreme Court justice Bob Orr, who's has been part of several lawsuits and other legal actions taken against the NCAA.  Our hosts discuss those with him, plus take a look at where NCAA rules and enforcement may be heading.

(Music featured includes Chill Mode by Audiobinger)

Sometimes, going to prison is the easy way out for those fighting addiction.  The difficult path is learning how to live.  The Buncombe County drug court program looks to teach that difficult path.

Liam James Doyle/NPR

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is testifying on Capitol Hill to answer questions about protecting user data. The Tuesday hearing held by the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees follows news that the data-mining and political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica obtained personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users. The firm is accused of using that information to target Facebook users with political advertising in 2016.

Blue Ridge Public Radio and the Asheville Citizen-Times will partner on a candidate forum for Buncombe County sheriff.  The forum will take place April 16th at noon at BPR's studio.  It will be broadcast live on both the BPR and Citizen-Times Facebook pages.  BPR will also the air the forum at a later date before the May 8th primary.

Former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene and her son Michael were indicted Thursday morning on charges they both misused public funds.  Each faces conspiracy and fraud charges, while Wanda Greene faces additional embezzlement counts.  The pair are accused of using Buncombe County-owned and issued credit cards to make improper personal purchases.  Federal authorities allege Wanda and Michael Greene used those cards to buy roughly $200-thousand worth of goods over a 10-year period from 2007 to 2017.  Wanda Greene retired on June 30th of 2017.  Shortly after, federal authorities announced t

Former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene and her son Michael have been indicted on federal charges for alleged misuse of public funds.  The charges were announced Thursday morning by the office of the U.S.

John was the offensive coordinator for the University of North Carolina football team from 2007 to 2011.  During that time, the program and university were rocked by an academic scandal that lead to players suspensions, NCAA bans, and the whole coaching staff being fired.  Our hosts begin a two-part look back at that time with their guest Bob Orr, a retired North Carolina Supreme Court justice whom they first met during the scandal when he represented one of John's players in a fight against the NCAA.

(Music featured includes The Laundry Cycle by Jesse Spillane)  

Buncombe County commissioners Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Al Whitesides, and Ellen Frost are calling for extensive public safety reforms - a call that brought a sharp and quick rebuke from county sheriff Van Duncan.  

Pages