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

Buncombe County DA

(UPDATE Thursday 9:40 p.m.) -  Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams announced in a press release late Thursday that former Asheville police officer Chris Hickman will face three criminal charges for the August beating of an unarmed black man.  Hickman and an officer in training stopped Johnnie Rush for suspected jaywalking and trespassing  late on the night of August 24th on Short Coxe Avenue.  Hickman beat, choked and shocked Rush with a stun gun.  The charges detailed Thursday night against Hickman - who resigned from the police force in January - are one count each of assault

Wikicommons

The city of Asheville Monday afternoon formally asked Buncombe County Superior Court to release any additional police body camera footage of the beating of Johnnie Jermaine Rush.  The unarmed black man was beaten by then Asheville police officer Chris Hickman last August as he walking through the parking lot of a closed business on Short Coxe Avenue.  Rush was initially stopped for suspected jaywalking and trespassing, but charges against him were dropped.  Hickman resigned from the force in January, shortly before a criminal investigation into his actions in the Rush beating was opened by

Wikicommons

Asheville city council has called a closed session special meeting for Monday evening to discuss a video released this week showing a then-Asheville police officer beating an unarmed black man last August.  The video, published by the Asheville Citizen-Times, shows officer Chris Hickman beating and shocking with a stun gun Johnnie Jermaine Rush.  Hickman had stopped Rush for suspected jaywalking and trespassing August 24th. 

Matt Bush BPR

Candidate filing for the 2018 North Carolina General Assembly elections ended this week, and both parties will field enough candidates to ensure all 170 seats will be contested this year.  It’s making Democratic Governor Roy Cooper very happ - and confident.  Cooper has been in office for 14 months, but his legislative power remains quite limited.  That’s because Republicans hold supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly allowing them to override any vetoes from Cooper, something they did nine times last year.  But the Governor is confident that will change next year, in par

Tuesday May 8th will be the primary election in North Carolina.  Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.  To see where your polling place is, check with your county board of elections.  There is no same-day voter registration on primary day, so only those already registered can vote.  Those registered with a party can only vote in the primary for that party.  Unaffiliated voters can select which primary they wish to vote in.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have released their rebuttal to Republicans' memo about the Russia investigation and Justice Department surveillance practices. President Trump agreed to declassify and release the Republican document, which raises concerns about partisan influence in the FBI’s probe of Russian contacts with the 2016 Trump campaign. Democrats requested the release of their longer counter-memo and President Trump initially denied that request, sending it back for redactions.

A busy basketball weekend in Asheville will now be even more so.  Not only will the Southern Conference host both it's men's and women's basketball championships at the U.S. Cellular Center, but the quarter and semi-final rounds of the Big South men's basketball championship will be played at the Kimmel Arena on the campus of UNC-Asheville.  That's because the Bulldogs clinched the Big South regular season championship over the weekend.  Doing so means the Bulldogs will play at home during the Big South tournament as long as they are in it.

BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

President Trump is speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. His comments come amid a debate about gun laws after a shooting a high school in Parkland, Fla. National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre spoke at CPAC on Thursday, warning conservatives of a “socialist agenda” to take firearms from law-abiding citizens. Trump called the NRA and LaPierre “Great American Patriots” in a tweet Thursday morning and later said the organization “is ready to do things” to address the problem of gun violence.

AP Photo/Nell Redmond, File

Reverend Billy Graham passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 99 at his home in Montreat.  The most prominent American Christian preacher of his era was ordained in Southern Baptist church, but it was his ability to blur the denominational lines of Protestant Christianity that built his large following says Reverend Dr.

Matt Bush BPR

Reverend Billy Graham passed away Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat.  He was 99.  A family spokesman told the Associated Press Graham had been suffering from a variety of ailments, including cancer and pneumonia.  His wife Ruth died in 2007.  Funeral services have not been announced, but Graham will be buried next to his wife at the Billy Graham Museum and Library in Charlotte.

Smoky Mountain News/Donated Photo

The squabbling within the Haywood County Republican Party is showing no signs of stopping.  Last year, four members of the county GOP were officially kicked out of the party.  Now, a the vice chair of the Haywood County Republican party Debbie King is suing the faction of the county party those members belonged to over some internet memes.  Smoky Mountain News reporter Cory Vaillancourt has been following this story from the start and joined BPR's Matt Bush in studio f

JamesBeard.org

Two Asheville chefs, a baker, and a brewer have been named semi-finalists for prestigious James Beard Foundation awards.  Katie Button of Nightbell and Curate and Meherwan Irani of Chai Pani are semi-finalists for the Best Chef of the Southeast.  Six of the 20 semi-finalists in the category hail from North Carolina, with other nominees coming from Raleigh, Davidson, Winterv

Wikicommons

Efforts to promote racial and ethnic equity in Asheville should include community forums focusing on traffic stop data from city police.  That’s one of many recommendations a study group that’s proposing a ‘human relations commission’ in Asheville gave to city council Tuesday.  That group is also asking the city to expand its Office of Equity and Inclusion from one to four employees.  The current head of that office, Kimberlee Archie, was just hired last year. 

As the opioid epidemic deepens, the need for foster parents has exploded in Western North Carolina.  That was one of the findings of a series of stories from the Asheville Citizen-Times that explored many topics and issues around opioid abuse in the region.  Reporter Alexandria Bordas joined BPR's Matt Bush in studio to discuss the series, which took 5 months to compile.  

Super Bowl 52 on February 4th, 2018 between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles will conclude a tumultuous 2017 NFL season.   From the Take A Knee protests to increasing questions of how seriously players concussions are being treated to Jerry Richardson announcing he'll sell the Carolina Panthers following numerous allegations of misconduct in the workplace, it was a season with major headlines that weren't focused on plays.  The Shoops discuss the future of the NFL in this episode, which was recorded originally as a Facebook Live chat on the BPR News Facebook page.

Matt Bush BPR

Buncombe County commissioners have been holding town hall meetings in recent months regarding opioids.  Those gatherings have touched on several topics, but have had one common goal – educating people on how powerful the painkillers are and how easy it is to become addicted to them.

UNC-Asheville

Dan Pierce is UNC-Asheville's National Endowment for the Humanities Distinguished Professor in the Humanities.  He's written several books on the history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Pierce attributes his love of the park to first passing through it on Highway 441 when his family moved to Asheville from Arkansas in the 1950's.  His book Hazel Creek: The Life and Death of an Iconic Mountain Community, will be the subject of a

Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

President Trump is delivering his State of the Union address to Congress, which will be followed by a response from the Democratic Party. Journalists across the NPR newsroom will be annotating those remarks, adding fact-checks and analysis in real time. The live video stream and annotation will start at 9 p.m. this evening.

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Liam James Doyle/NPR

Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III, seen as a rising political star with a famous last name, will deliver the Democratic response to President Trump's State of the Union. In announcing their decision, Democratic leaders in Congress called Kennedy a "relentless fighter for working Americans." Kennedy is the grandson of the late Robert Kennedy, the former U.S. attorney general and New York senator who was assassinated in 1968. He is also the great nephew of both the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and the late president John F.

City of Asheville

Asheville has changed quite a bit in recent years thanks to a surge in new development.  But some even bigger changes are on the horizon, thanks to some recent real estate sales and newly announced development plans.  Jason Sandford of AshVegas has been writing about many of them and he joined BPR's Matt Bush in studio to discuss the latest developments - including one at the Asheville Mall that would bring one of the most famous events in city history full circle.  

flyavl.com

Late last year a new parking garage was completed at Asheville Regional Airport.  Ongoing runway work has also been happening, but in the coming years something bigger could be in the works - an expansion of the terminal.  AshVegas.com has been looking at what's been going on at the airport in recent months.  Jason Sandford of AshVegas joined BPR's Matt Bush in studio to discuss where the airport could be headed in future years - as the number of passengers going in and out of the facility has greatly exceeded airport officials expectations.  Sandford reports the number of passengers in 20

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

North Carolina ranked in the middle nationally when it comes to auto safety laws according to a report released this week by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.  The group is an "alliance of consumer, medical, public health, and safety groups and insurance companies and agents working together to make America’s roads safer."

Matt Bush BPR

The 2nd annual Asheville Women's March took place Saturday.  Thousands filled Memorial Stadium before marching up Biltmore Avenue to Pack Square, the site of last year's women's march.  Around 10-thousand attended last year, and thousands showed up for this year's march which featured many female elected officials from around the region.  Asheville has had a woman as mayor since 2005, and the city council is now majority female following last year's election.  The women's march in Asheville wasn't only one held Saturday in Buncombe County, as a similar event took place in Black Mountain.

Black Star Line Brewing, the first black-owned brewery in Western North Carolina, closed its Hendersonville location.  A post on the brewery's Facebook page on Thursday said "Thanks for the love Hendersonville.  At this time we will no longer be operating on 131 3rd Ave W.  We'll let you know updates as soon as they are available.  Thank you."

Matt Bush BPR

Asheville City schools Superintendent Dr. Denise Patterson says she’s learned a lot during her first six months on the job – not just about the school system but the city itself.

Pexels

Mission Health has reached a settlement with three former employees who claimed they were fired because they refused to get flu shots on religious grounds.  Christine Bolella and Titus Robinson were terminated in 2013, while Melody Mitchell was fired in 2014.  All three filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against Mission, alleging the hospital system failed to accommodate their religious beliefs.  Mission Health has a policy making yearly flu shots mandatory for employees.  All three sought a religious exemption, but claimed they were each denied and eventually termin

Asheville Police

Michael Christoper Estes, the man accused of leaving an explosive device near the entrance to the baggage claim of Asheville Regional Airport last October, plead guilty Friday morning in federal court to one count of unlawful possession of explosive material.  A sentencing date for Estes has not been announced.  He faces up to five years in prison and a $250-thousand fine.

Leaders for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are moving forward with a voter referendum on whether to allow expanded alcohol sales on the Qualla Boundary.  When it might happen is still unclear.  Smoky Mountain News reporter Holly Kays joined BPR’s Matt Bush to discuss the latest, as well as the history of the ban on alcohol sales in Cherokee - which had been totally dry until 2009, when alcohol sales were finally permitted at the Harrah's Casino there, which first op

Matt Bush BPR

Tuesday’s ruling by federal judges that North Carolina’s Congressional district maps are illegal could have wide ranging implications for politics at the local, state and national level.  The court ruled the maps were illegal because they were gerrymandered specifically to benefit Republicans – the first time a court cited partisanship as a reason to throw out Congressional maps created through redistricting.  The city of Asheville saw the biggest change during the redistricting the court just rejected.  The new lines cut the city from one district into two – leading it from being represent

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