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 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.

NOAA

Hurricane Irma is tracking more to the west of Western North Carolina after making landfall in Florida this weekend.  But WNC will still see significant rainfall on Monday and Tuesday, and authorities are urging residents not to get complacent with the track of the storm.

Bookings through Airbnb skyrocketed in the past year in Buncombe County.  A study commissioned by the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority showed demand for rentals through the site increased 105% in the past year.  Hotel room bookings grew only 3% during the same time.  The growth in Airbnb demand comes despite its murky legal status in Asheville.  Airbnb rentals are legal in "commercial" parts of the city, but illegal in "residential" parts.

Matt Bush BPR

Student resource officers at several Buncombe County middle and high schools will have overdose-reversal kits for the first time ever.  The kits contain Narcan, the brand name for a nasal spray administered to those who have overdosed on opioids.  The kits are being made available through collaboration between the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), Vaya Health, and the Buncombe County Sheriff's office.  

Matt Bush BPR

September will be Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery month in North Carolina.  Governor Roy Cooper signed the proclamation designating alcohol and drug addiction recovery month at Vaya Health in Asheville.  The organization helps connect people with health insurance, including for addiction and recovery, something the governor says is crucial in a state where the opioid crisis is growing.

Corey Vaillancourt Smoky Mountain News

North Carolina is home to around 100 monuments to the Confederacy.  Governor Roy Cooper says all should come down in the wake of the death of a woman who was counter protesting a white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia.  But a 2-year-old state law prohibits local governments from removing the monuments without state approval, keeping many of them in place for t

Lawmakers are returning to Raleigh this week to vote on new legislative district maps for next year's North Carolina General Assembly elections.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled current districts were illegally gerrymandered using race as the deciding factor in creating them.

CAROLYN KASTER / AP

President Trump addressed the nation Monday night on U.S. engagement and "the path forward" in Afghanistan and South Asia. Senior U.S. officials tell NPR that the president is expected to order about 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. The decision follows months of deliberation within the Trump Administration, involving top military commanders, political advisers and even enlisted veterans of the nearly 16-year war. NPR journalists from across the newsroom are offering context and analysis about President Trump's remarks.

Matt Bush BPR

Tens of thousands took in the solar eclipse in Western North Carolina.  In the path of totality to the west of Asheville, there was heavy cloud cover and even some rain.  Those who watched in the city however caught a break.

Courtesy of Romeo Durscher/NASA

The excitement has been building for weeks and weeks. On Monday, August 21st the solar eclipse will finally be here. It will darken the skies along a path from Oregon to South Carolina. It's the first eclipse that will be seen from coast to coast in 99 years. Millions will don special glasses or watch through pinhole projectors. Eclipse enthusiasts say totality never disappoints. Follow this live updating map tracking the position of the eclipse across the United States.  Beneath the map is a live blog from NPR journalists and others experiencing the eclipse across the U.S.

Dennis di Cicco / Sky & Telescope

Blue Ridge Public Radio is providing live video streams on total solar eclipse day from two locations within the path of totality.  The links are below!

From our tower on Wine Springs Bald near Franklin

From our tower on Rich Mountain near Brevard

Matt Bush BPR

Asheville police arrested four people Friday morning for attempting to vandalize a Confederate marker in Pack Square downtown.  Police say protestors gathered around the Vance Monument before 8 a.m. Friday.  Several then attempted to damage the smaller marker in front of the monument that has a plaque with the likeness of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.  Arrested were 27-year-old Nicole Townsend, 45-year-old Amy Cantrell, 30-year-old Hillary Brown, and 34-year-old Adrienne Sigmon.  All are from Asheville and all four face charges of Damage to Real Property.

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