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

The 'Take A Knee' protests have continued throughout the 2017 NFL season, becoming so widespread that President Donald Trump even weighed in on them.  The Shoops examine the history of protests by black athletes in the U.S. and find 'Take A Knee' is the latest in a long line of such demonstrations throughout the country's history.  Their guest - columnist and ESPN & NPR contributor Kevin Blackistone - says this is because sports are one of the few arenas where African-Americans are taken seriously in the U.S.

(Music featured includes Xanadont by Mystery Mammal)  

Incumbent Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer breezed to an easy re-election, while Vijay Kapoor, Sheneika Smith, and incumbent Gwen Wisler won city council seats.  Meanwhile, three-quarters of those who voted in Asheville said no to creating city council districts, even though a state law passed earlier this year by the Republican-dominated General Assembly mandated the Democratically-controlled city do so for the 2019 election.  

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

On the first anniversary of President Trump’s election, NPR is looking back at his victory speech. NPR reporters across the newsroom have annotated his election night remarks, providing context and analysis to his policy promises and noting who among the people he thanked are still in the inner circle a year later.

Loading...

Warren Wilson College

The president of Warren Wilson College says a plan to offer free tuition starting next year to incoming students from North Carolina is part of a push to diversify the student body on campus.  Dr.

Derek Blanks

Singer Gladys Knight will headline a benefit show Sunday night at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in Asheville.  Other performers include Little Big Town - and a host of 'surprise guests' that Knight is promising will be there.  All proceeds from the show will toward a proposed community center outside of Canton in Haywood County.  Knight's husband Billy McDowell is behind the plan to turn the former Reynolds School in an area known as Gibsontown into a community center by 2019.  McDow

BPR Tech

Blue Ridge Public Radio and the Asheville Citizen-Times partnered on a forum with the six candidates for the November 7th general election for Asheville city council.  It was recorded in the BPR studios on October 23rd.  All six candidates participated - Dee Williams, Kim Roney, Rich Lee, Vijay Kapoor, Gwen Wisler, and Sheneika Smith.  The topic of the forum was discrimination, and questions for the candidates related to issues around that.  Voters will elect three of the candidates to city council.

Matt Bush BPR

Of all the options for the future of the Vance Monument in Pack Square, putting it and its namesake into context might be the most difficult to imagine.  Not because it isn’t a viable solution, but because it’s such a broad yet vague idea.   A trip to Zebulon Vance’s birthplace north of Asheville shows what 'contextualizing' the monument could look like.   

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce

Population and job growth continue to be strong in the Asheville region, but wages are lagging far behind.  That's according to a report released by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Coalition of Asheville-Buncombe County.  The report studied a six county area (Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Madison, Transylvania) and found the average wage per job is $44,800.  The national average is $62,100.

Corey Vaillancourt Smoky Mountain News

Passenger rail service in Western North Carolina has been almost non-existent for more than 40 years.  There's still freight rail service throughout the region, and in the coming years we could see passenger service comeback, even in small forms.  Smoky Mountain News reporter Cory Vaillancourt has been looking at how rail service might return to the region.  He discussed the latest on the

BPR Tech

Blue Ridge Public Radio and the Asheville Citizen-Times partnered on the first of two forums with candidates for Asheville City Council Monday.  You can watch it on the BPR News Facebook page.  It will be aired this Friday October 27th at noon in place of The State of Things.  The second forum will be held Monday October 30th at noon and can be viewed live on the Citizen-Times website and

Wikicommons

This week's Asheville primary yielded a few surprising results, but the issues that were driving voters to the polls should come as no shock to anyone who follows city politics.  South Asheville businessman Vijay Kapoor was by far the top vote getter in the city council primary, which whittled the number of candidates from 12 to 6 for next month's general election.  Kapoor's showing is a sign the neighborhood he hails from is becoming a burgeoning force in Asheville politics according to Citizen-Times reporter Joel Burgess, who covers city government.  He says growth of Asheville was what

The Shoops talk with BPR's Matt Bush about success and disillusionment, and Marcia's belief that sports fans are seeking redemption in their fandom, as outlined in her book Touchdowns For Jesus & Other Signs Of Apolcalypse

(Music featured includes Portal by Evan Schaeffer)   

The Shoops talk with BPR's Matt Bush about the role religion plays in the locker room - and sports in general.

(Music featured includes Baseline by Nctrnm)

Colleges and universities are spending more and more money to recruit athletes to their campuses.  The Shoops look at what is fueling the 'recruiting arms race' and how it affects the very athletes it's supposed to impress.  In particular looking at the lavish lockers the University of Texas just built for its football team.  Each locker costs more than $10-thousand dollars.  

(Music featured includes Next Level by Audiobinger)  

Wikicommons

Asheville mayor Esther Manheimer and Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler advanced to next month's general election in the city, but outspoken city council Cecil Bothwell fell just short in his quest for another term.  The primary whittled down the number of mayoral candidates from four to two, and city council candidates from 12 to six.  Those remaining face off in the general election, which will be held on November 7th.

Tuesday is primary election day for the city of Asheville.  Up for election this year are the mayor's office, and three city council seats currently held Cecil Bothwell, Gwen Wisler, and Gordon Smith.  Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.  More information can be found here. 

The top two finishers in the mayoral primary and the top six in the city council primary will advance to the November 7th general election.  

Federal authorities have been tight lipped about the investigation into former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene.  She hasn't been charged with anything, but there has been a whirlwind of activity and revelations since Greene retired earlier this year after 20 years in the position.  The latest is that she awarded herself with a $241-thousand 'retention incentive' right before she retired - meaning she

Pexels

The so-called "Brunch Bill" that passed the North Carolina General Assembly means restaurants can now serve alcohol before noon on Sundays.  Local governments throughout the state quickly permitted the earlier sales under powers granted them by the state bill.  Hendersonville and Asheville quickly approved earlier sales.  To the west in the mountains of Western North Carolina, some localities have said yes to mimosas and bloody mary's before noon on Sunday - and some have not.  Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt

Matt Bush BPR

Opponents of Duke Energy’s plan to raise monthly rates close to 17% packed a public hearing in Asheville Wednesday night.  The North Carolina Utilities Commission is holding a series of public hearings across the state to get ratepayer reaction to Duke’s plan.  The average bill could go up close to $18 a month if the commission approves Duke’s request.  It’s the utility’s desire to use some of that new revenue to clean up coal ash that had many in attendance angered, like Hartwell Carson of Mountain True.

Thursday October 5th is the 'termination date' for the contract between Mission Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina.  If no agreement between the two is reached by then, customers of North Carolina's largest insurer will find themselves 'out of network' for non-emergency visits at facilities operated by Western North Carolina's largest healthcare provider.  This would affect hundreds of thousands of people in the region, meaning they would either have to pay more for non-emergency visits, or switch insurers and/or doctors.  There has been little movement between both sides sin

N.C. Public Division Of Health

The opioid crisis is affecting all of the U.S., and Western North Carolina in particular.  And it is showing no signs of slowing down in the region's most populous county.  In the first 8 months of 2017, 230 visits to emergency departments were reported in Buncombe County, as opposed to just 84 during the same time frame last year.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission will hold a public hearing tomorrow evening in Asheville where residents can weigh in on Duke Energy’s request to raise rates almost 17%.  If approved, the average Duke ratepayer would see their bill rise close to $18 per month.  The Utilities Commission, which has the final say on whether the rate hike takes effect, is holding public hearings across the state.  Wednesday’s in Asheville is the only one scheduled for Western North Carolina.  It starts at 7 pm in courtroom 1A of the Buncombe County Courthouse.  Opponents of the raise are also

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana are defending their proposal to replace Obamacare today in a Senate hearing.  The Senate Finance Committee begins its deliberations on the bill around 2:00 PM Eastern Time.

Federal authorities announced earlier this year they are investigating former Buncombe County manager Wanda Greene.  No details, much less charges, have been released regarding the probe.  Greene retired after more than two decades on the job over the summer shortly before the investigation was confirmed.  It set off a chain reaction in county government.

Early voting gets underway Thursday in Asheville for the city's primary election, which will take place on October 10th.  Voters will pare down the number of candidates for city council from 12 to 6, and for mayor from 4 to 2.  Those who advance will face off in the general election on November 7th, when voters will choose a mayor and 3 city council seats.  The lone early voting site is at the Buncombe County Election Services building at 77 McDowell Avenue in Asheville.

Blue Ridge Public Radio is proud to announce the launch of “Going Deep: Sports in the 21st Century”, a podcast that looks at some of the most pressing issues in sports and society – such as race, gender, religion, and inequality.  The hosts are the husband and wife team of John Shoop and Dr.

Matt Bush BPR

Nearly all counties in Western Carolina are now home to self-serve kiosks where people can learn more about mental illness – and determine whether they might be suffering from one.  The kiosks are really just a computer screen, with no keyboard and a phone is attached to the screen.  With just a few touches on the screen, users can learn the symptoms of several common mental health conditions says Jessie Smathers of Vaya Health, which helped place the kiosks around the region.

An AMBER Alert was issued Wednesday morning after authorities say a 3-month-old child was abducted in Clyde.  Cali Cochran was taken by her non-custodial parents according to the Haywood County sheriff's office.  She's described as white with brown hair, 20 inches in length and weighing 10 pounds.  Her alleged abductors are 39-year-old Rex Cochran Jr and 31-year-old Heather Marie Cochran.  Authorities believe the pair are traveling to either Valdosta, Georgia or Ocala, Florida in either a gray 1999 GMC Suburban with a North Dakota license plate 489-AWH.

UNC-Asheville

UNC-Asheville chancellor Dr. Mary Grant will be leaving the university at the end of the current semester according to a statement from the school's board of trustees.  Grant, who has held the position since August 2014, will become the president of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston.  Grant was expected to share the news campus-wide later Wednesday.

Matt Bush BPR

Duke Energy reports around 8-thousand customers in Western North Carolina were without power at 10 Thursday morning after the remnants of Hurricane Irma passed through the region early Tuesday.  Most customers who do not have power may not get it restored until Friday evening.  A spokesperson for Duke says many of the remaining outages are spread out over a wide area and are very small, which is slowing the utility's progress.

Pages