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

Matt Bush BPR

Sometimes work doesn’t feel like work.  That was the case for an Asheville contractor and his employees last week as they rehabbed an historic cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Wicked Weed of Asheville announced this week it was being sold to brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns such brands as Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois.  The company has been purchasing small craft breweries in recent years, creating "The High End" business unit for such brands.  In a statement announcing the sale, Wicked Weed co-founder Walt Dickinson called it an "exciting time for the entire brewing team.

Warren Wilson College

Warren Wilson College has named its new president, and for the first time in the school's 123-year history, it will be lead by a woman.  Dr. Lynn Morton will take over as president on July 1st.  She comes from Queens University in Charlotte, where she has spent the last 26 years.  She's currently the school's provost and vice president for academic affairs.  She takes over at Warren Wilson from Steven Solnick, who is leaving Western North Carolina to become the head of the Calhoun School in New York City.  Dr.

Matt Bush BPR

Congressional mid-term elections are 18 months away, but one challenger is getting into the race for Western North Carolina’s seat in the House of Representatives very early.  Democrat Matt Coffay announced he will seek his party’s nomination for the 11th district seat at a rally in Waynesville last month.  Should Coffay win the nomination, he’d face three-term incumbent Republican Mark Meadows in the general election.  BPR’s Matt Bush spoke with Smoky Mountain News reporter Corey Vaillancourt about the Democratic challenger.

Matt Bush BPR

Mission Health says its decision to stop delivering babies at Angel Medical Center in Macon County was made to keep the hospital open.  Mission estimates around 400 children a year are currently born at the Franklin facility, roughly one per day.  CEO Dr. Ronald Paulus says labor and delivery care at Angel Medical loses the hospital between $1 and $2-million per year, which he says puts all the other healthcare done at the facility in jeopardy. “We can’t let one program, even important, put all of the care at risk for a rural community.  We just can’t do it.”

Matt Bush BPR

The first Democrat has jumped into the race to seek the party’s nomination to take on Republican Congressman Mark Meadows next year.  While Democrats see enthusiasm growing thanks to strong election showings in Kansas and Georgia, they didn’t win either Congressional  race.  And winning Western North Carolina’s 11th district seat will be an extremely difficult task.

Wikicommons

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Another effort by North Carolina's craft-beer brewers to ease state limits on distributing their own products appears to have gone flat.

A new version of a House measure debated Wednesday in committee and designed to benefit the craft industry left out a previous provision to raise the self-distribution limit from 25,000 barrels a year to 200,000 barrels.

North Carolina Department of Commerce

Buncombe County’s unemployment rate stands at just over 4%.  But the same rate for the county’s African-American community is several times higher.  Efforts to bring that down have been slow moving.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has awarded men's basketball tournament games in 2020 and 2021 along with several other championship events to North Carolina after the state repealed elements of a law that limited protections for LGBT people and put it at risk of being passed over as a host for future events.

Two major park projects are slowly but surely coming together in Asheville.  One is Overlook Park, which could provide stunning view of the city.  But there's one hitch - the city has not provided any funding for the park (yet).  Volunteers are looking for grants and donations currently to get the process started.

Voters in the city of Asheville could have the final say as early as this fall on whether city council seats will remain elected at-large.  A bill in the General Assembly filed by Republican senator Chuck Edwards would make the city draw up election districts for the six council seats.  Separate of that legislation, the current Asheville city council commissioned a poll to see what voters thought of a potential switch.  The conflicting results came back

****A previous version of this story only included 2016 numbers***

On Tuesday, the Asheville city council will discuss the results of a poll it commissioned regarding the creation of districts for future elections.

ARC.gov

Western North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows chairs the ‘Freedom Caucus’, a group of hardline conservatives known for their aversion to government spending and desire for deep budget cuts.   But there’s one federal program Meadows does not want to see slashed.  It’s one that operates in his backyard.

Western Carolina University

Poet, novelist, and Western Carolina University professor Ron Rash has been named a Guggenheim Fellow for 2017.  Only 173 scholars, artists, and scientists from the U.S. and Canada receive the prestigious honor from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.  The fellowships are awarded "on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise."  Each fellow receives a $50-thousand award to support their work.

Matt Bush WCQS

Congressman Mark Meadows says “steps in a positive direction” are being made in regards to resurrecting Republican hopes of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, known to many as "Obamacare".

Matt Bush BPR

Congressman Mark Meadows says he does not take President Donald Trump’s tweets at him ‘personally’.  The Western North Carolina Republican drew the ire of the President following the failure of the GOP’s healthcare bill last week.

Among the many federal programs and agencies President Donald Trump is proposing to eliminate in his budget plan is the Appalachian Regional Commission.  The agency serves parts of 13 states, including Western North Carolina.  President John F.

The NCAA men's basketball Final Four takes Saturday in Arizona.  There will be a Carolina feel in the desert air, as both North and South Carolina will be playing.  It's the first time the Gamecocks have made the Final Four, while for the Tar Heels it's their 20th, the most of any school in the nation.

Wilson.com

Basketball is king in North Carolina.  That may be spreading now to South Carolina, as the Gamecocks clinched their first ever Final Four trip on Sunday.  They’ll join the Tar Heels, who have now made the Final Four 20 times, more than any other school in country.

Matt Bush BPR

During his swing through Western North Carolina this week, Governor Roy Cooper admitted the Republican-controlled General Assembly will continue to notch plenty of political wins against him this year.  But the governor expects that not to last forever.

House Republicans in D.C. are expected to vote tomorrow/today/Thursday on the proposed bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ‘Obamacare.’  One Congressman who won’t be voting in favor of the measure is Mark Meadows.

Matt Bush BPR

The North Carolina House of Representatives is scheduled Wednesday to attempt to override Governor Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill regarding judicial elections.

AP

NPR Politics team will live blog the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. The live blog will include streaming video, with posts featuring highlights, context and analysis from NPR reporters and correspondents.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/File

The NPR Two-Way blog will provide live coverage of the House Intelligence Committee’s public hearing on the investigations into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. The live blog will include streaming video of the proceedings, with posts featuring highlights, context and analysis from NPR reporters and correspondents.

Pexels

The hotel boom in Asheville thanks to ever rising number of tourists visiting the city has been well documented  (though maybe the boom is coming to an end or at the very least slowing down).  But another surge in hotel construction has been happening right to the south of Asheville.

Matt Bush BPR

Over 130 churches, synagogues, and other faith organizations in Western North Carolina are banding together to aid immigrants in the region.

Wikimedia Commons

A busy week in Asheville city politics is wrapping up.  First, Republican state senator Chuck Edwards introduced a bill that would create city council districts in Asheville.  Currently all city council seats in Asheville are elected at-large, meaning anyone living anywhere in the city can run for any one of them.

AP

68 schools make the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, known as March Madness.  But it’s just 10 people who determine which schools are in, and which are not.  UNC-Asheville athletic director Janet Cone is one of those 10, and the only woman on the committee that chooses the bracket.  She spoke with BPR News director Matt Bush about what it’s like to sit in the New York City room where so many players and fans hopes are realized or crushed.

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