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

Origin Stories Part 1

20 hours ago

Our hosts look at the origin stories of the three major professional sports in the U.S. - football, baseball, and basketball.  Their guest is Dr. Randall Balmer, author and professor at Dartmouth College.  They examine the social movements and cultural moments in U.S. history that gave birth to the three sports that capture fans imaginations.

(Music featured includes Darn That Weasel and Fern And Andy by Blue Dot Sessions)  

NASA

If you're looking to help following the devastation in North Carolina from Hurricane Florence, here are some organizations helping victims of the storm -

A Just Florence Recovery - Resources and support for frontline-to-frontline relief and mobilization in Eastern NC

North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund - Operated through the office of the governor

Matt Bush BPR

Around a dozen students and staff from UNC-Wilmington are beginning their second week living on the campus of UNC-Asheville because of Hurricane Florence and its aftermath.

The Latest: WNC Escapes Any Major Damage From Florence

Sep 12, 2018
Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

(Monday 5 p.m)  The National Park Service says portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway  are now open. Click here for the latest.  The entire Parkway and most  of its facilities, visitor centers and campgrounds, were shutdown on Friday in anticipation of storm damage from Florence.  A stretch of the road to the south and east of Asheville - from the Tanbark Ridge Overlook to the French Broad Overlook - is now open, as well as the far western end of the Parkway from the Pisgah Inn to its terminus in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The U.S. Forest Service on Monday said all roads and recreation facilities in the Nantahala National Forest were scheduled to re-open on Tuesday, while nearly all similar sites in the Pisgah National Forest would do the same on Wednesday.

(Monday 12:00 p.m.) A flash flood watch is no longer in effect for the BPR listening area, as damage appears to be minimal throughout Western North Carolina after Florence blanketed the area with rain Sunday as a tropical depression. 

Expected flooding of the Swannanoa River in Biltmore Village did not occur, as the river only crested at 7.68 feet at 7:15 last night.  It's flood stage is 10 feet, and the U.S. Geological Survey was predicting the river would crest at 12 feet early Monday.  In Black Mountain along Flat Creek flooding caused the evacuation of three mobile home parks Sunday afternoon with a shelter set up nearby at the Swannanoa First Baptist Church.  The shelter in McDowell County at the YMCA in Marion was closed late Sunday evening.

The majority of road closures in the region this morning were in Yancey County, but many have been cleared according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.  The lone closure still active as of noon Monday is on Whittington Road near US 19 near Burnsville.  The road there is closed in both directions.  

(Sunday 10:15 p.m.) A flash flood watch remains in effect through Monday evening for Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, Yancey, and eastern Polk and McDowell Counties as the final remnants of Florence pass through Western North Carolina. 

Minor flooding overnight remains possible among streams and rivers, but it appears the region avoided widespread damage from the storm.  There are several road closures in rural parts of Yancey County, and two roads closed in Transylvania County due to flooding.  To get the latest road closures from the North Carolina Department of Transportation, head here. 

(Sunday 5:30 p.m.) As a flash flood warning expired late Sunday evening for parts of Buncombe, Henderson, and Polk Counties, Buncombe County opened its first emergency shelter.  It’s at the Swannanoa First Baptist Church, and that opening comes in response to voluntary evacuations at three mobile home parks in Black Mountain.  Information from the U.S. Geological Survey shows the Swannanoa River will crest above flood stage in the coming hours and cause minor flooding overnight.  At the USGS monitoring point in Biltmore Village, the Swannanoa is expected to crest at 12 feet overnight, which is two feet above flood stage.  That would cause minor flooding in that area before the river recedes back beneath flood stage by noon tomorrow.  To put the 12 foot number in perspective, the river was at just over 14 feet in late May of this year when Biltmore Village flooded, doing minor damage to several businesses.  When the area saw its worst flooding in 2004, the river was at over 18 feet.

Two other emergency shelters are open in Western North Carolina Sunday evening.  The first is at the YMCA in Marion, while the other is at the Polk County Middle School in Mill Spring.  There are no widespread mandatory evacuation orders at this time in the BPR listening area.

Duke Energy is reporting just under 23-hundred outages in Buncombe County at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.  No other county in the BPR listening area is above 600.  Asheville City and Buncombe and Henderson County schools have all announced they will operate on a 2-hour delay Monday morning. 

(Sunday 1 p.m.) A flash flood warning is in effect until 5:15 p.m. for parts of Western North Carolina as rainfall from Tropical Depression Florence picks up in the region.

 

The official alert from the National Weather Service - 

The National Weather Service in Greenville-Spartanburg has issued a Flash Flood Warning for Southwestern McDowell County, Northwestern Rutherford County, Eastern Henderson County in western North Carolina, Western Polk County in western North Carolina, and Eastern Buncombe County in western North Carolina until 515 PM EDT.

* At 1213 PM EDT, Doppler radar and automated rain gauges indicated that locally as much as 3 or 4 inches of rain has fallen today across the warned area. As periods of occasionally heavy tropical rainfall redevelops across the eastern slopes this afternoon, developing areas of high water and flooded streams are expected. * Some locations that will experience flooding include - Black Mountain, Swannanoa, Tryon, Lake Lure, Old Fort, Saluda, Chimney Rock Village, Chimney Rock State Park, Bat Cave and B.R. Parkway-Craggy To Little Switzerland.

In this episode, our conversation picks up from our last show.  John & Marcia continue to examine the many ways sports and religion parallel one another - with a focus in this show on faith, outcomes, and those who wander away but return.  

(Music featured includes Musa, 6th Melody by Livio Amato)  

The city of Asheville on Monday announced it was opening up the bidding for the naming rights to the U.S. Cellular Center.  Opened as the Asheville Civic Center Complex in 1974, the naming rights were sold to U.S. Cellular in 2011 for $1.35-million.  The contract with the firm expires at the end of 2019.

September 9 marks the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week, but how many of us really know what to do when we see or hear things that could be construed as “red flags?”

The Parallels Of Religion & Sport Part 1 -  Our hosts really follow the title of their show in this episode.  They 'go deep' with BPR's Matt Bush to examine the parallels of sports and religion.  You can hear the 'a-ha' moments throughout the show as John and Marcia find new connections between the worlds of sports and religion that they have inhabited throughout their lives.

(Music featured includes La Tapa Del Viernes and La Tapa Del Domingo by Circus Marcus)  

Matt Bush BPR

The number of visitors at Dupont State Forest more than doubled this decade.  It’s just one of the many outdoor destinations that has helped form Asheville and Western North Carolina’s national profile.  Something else is now getting national attention – the region’s industry that builds the products those outdoor visitors use.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is set to face a second round of questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. He’s expected to be questioned about his views on previous Supreme Court cases, as well as a range of policy issues. Kavanaugh is also likely to be questioned about his work on Ken Starr’s independent counsel investigation of former President Bill Clinton, and his time working in the White House under former President George W. Bush.

Wikicommons

The late Sen. John McCain will be honored at an expansive ceremony at Washington's National Cathedral on Saturday. Former President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush will give remarks, along with McCain's longtime friend Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and several others. Three of McCain's children will give readings, and Renee Fleming will perform "Danny Boy" at the late senator's request.

The board of directors for Mission Health say a deal has been signed to sell Western North Carolina's major health system to a for-profit company, HCA Healthcare for $1.5 billion.  The deal will now be sent to the North Carolina Attorney General for final review.  According to a press release sent out Friday morning by Mission Health, the attorney general's office "will evaluate any effect the transaction could have on market competition, whether HCA Healthcare is paying a fair price for the acquisition and how proceeds resulting from the sale will continue to benefit Western North Carolina

Mark Reinstein via Getty Images

Detroit will celebrate the life of Aretha Franklin on Friday, August 31st at 10 a.m. EST. Over two dozen people -- including heads of state, a record mogul, and music legends of nearly every description -- will take the stage of the Greater Grace Temple to speak, sing and pray in honor of the gift that Franklin so readily shared with the world.

Wikicommons/Adavyd

A memorial service for the late Sen. John McCain is being held at the North Phoenix Baptist Church in Phoenix, Ariz. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald are among those set to deliver remarks.  The service is expected to start around 1 p.m. Eastern time Thursday

A report commissioned by the city of Asheville criticizes two Asheville police officers for not intervening when a then city police officer was beating and choking an unarmed black pedestrian last August. 

Wikicommons

Asheville city council meets Tuesday evening for the first time in a month, and items related the city’s police department headline the agenda.  

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Federal judges on Monday affirmed their earlier decision striking North Carolina's congressional districts as unconstitutional because Republicans drew them with excessive partisanship.

Acting under an order of the U.S. Supreme Court to re-examine the case, the three-judge panel ruled again in favor of election advocacy groups and Democrats who had sued to challenge the boundaries drawn in 2016.

UPDATE 3:19 P.M. - RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina legislators have finalized two new constitutional amendments to submit to voters in November after a judicial panel's ruling keeping those questions off ballots caused them to try again.

On near party-line votes the Senate voted Monday for amendments designed to comply with the judges' decision last week. The House already approved the redone proposals last Friday as the Republican-controlled General Assembly called a special session to consider new amendments.

Matt Bush BPR

Buncombe County commissioners are weighing whether a ‘forensic audit’ of county spending is needed following the latest indictment of former county manager Wanda Greene.  Greene, and former assistant county managers Jon Creighton and Mandy Stone, all pleaded not guilty this week to charges they accepted all-expense paid trips and other gifts from a consultant who worked for businesses that had contracts with Buncombe County.  It was the third time Greene was indicted this year by federal prosecutors for fraud and conspiracy.   County commissioners

Monday is the first day of classes for the fall semester at UNC-Asheville.  It also marks the beginning of Dr. Nancy Cable's tenure as the 8th chancellor at the school.  She takes over for Dr. Mary Grant, who left the school at the end of 2017.  Dr.

UPDATE 12:00 AM Saturday - UNC-Asheville reached an agreement with the state department of insurance late Friday evening to re-open The Woods complex.  In a statement the DOI said it was satisfied that the school was addressing its concerns and supported students moving into the buildings.  

EARLIER STORY - Five new residence halls on the campus of UNC-Asheville are closed to students Friday by order of the state of department of insurance. 

Cathedral of All Souls Facebook page

The Cathedral of All Souls has hired Reverend Naomi Tutu, the daughter of famed South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.  The younger Tutu begins her tenure at the church in Biltmore Village this fall. 

Reverend Tutu’s work at All Souls will focus on social justice.  That’s according to the Very Reverend Todd Donatelli, the dean of the church that serves as the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina.

“We realized we are a predominantly white congregation, and we need to be engaged with folks whose stories are different than ours," says Donatelli.

Buncombe County commissioners voted Tuesday afternoon to terminate all contracts the county has with a consultant tied to the indictment of three former high-level county managers.  The county will also sue all involved in the alleged scheme.  Board of commissioners chair Brownie Newman made the announcement of the lawsuit at the very end of a special meeting that lasted about 20 minutes.

Election Day is less than three months away, and the stakes are pretty high for both Democrats and Republicans in this year's General Assembly elections.  The GOP holds veto-proof majorities in both chambers, which the party has used on numerous occasions to override vetoes from Democratic governor Roy Cooper.  Democrats only need to flip four seats in the House of Representatives and six in the state Senate to end those super-majorities, and the party is off to a good start in achieving that at least in fundraising.  Smoky Mountain News reporter and BPR contributor Cory Vaillancourt

Wikicommons/Whitneybarker

 

A former assistant coach for the University of North Carolina football team says players have the power – if they choose to use it - to reverse the suspensions of 13 players for improperly selling school-issued shoes.  

Thousands of customers were without power in Asheville following a short but powerful storm that passed through the city Wednesday afternoon.  Blue Ridge Public Radio lost power around 2:50 p.m, but it was restored around 5.  At the height of the storm, more than 20-thousand Duke Energy customers were without power in the immediate Asheville area.  By 6:30 Wednesday evening, that number was down to about a thousand.  

UPDATE 10:00 PM - A statement put out by Buncombe County commissioners Tuesday evening seemed to name the contractor in the indictment as Joseph Wiseman.  The full statement reads -

AP/GETTY IMAGES

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkish officials say a government delegation will travel to the United States for talks aimed at ending a rift between the NATO allies over the detention of an American pastor.

The United States last week imposed sanctions on two Turkish Cabinet ministers over the treatment of Andrew Brunson, the pastor of an evangelical church in Turkey who is on trial on espionage and terror-related charges.

The dispute caused the Turkish currency to dip to record lows.

The first month of the fiscal year for both the city of Asheville and Buncombe County governments has passed.  Both cut arts funding in their budgets for the year, and in particular, money to the Asheville Area Arts Council (The council is a business sponsor of Blue Ridge Public Radio).  BPR's Matt Bush spoke with Jason Sandford of AshVegas about the reaction to the cuts from the arts community in Asheville.

INTERVIEW EXCERPTS -

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