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WUOT, a member of NPR licensed to UT, delves into the precarious world of East Tennesseans who struggle to make ends meet in a new series, Without a Net: Voices of the Working Poor, which will air December 3 through 7.

Produced by WUOT Director of News Content Matt Shafer Powell and freelance producer Leslie Snow, the segments will air daily during the news program Morning Edition.

In addition, an in-depth hour-long special hosted by Powell and Snow will air December 7 at noon. The program will feature the comments of the people featured in the daily segments and interviews with the following experts:

  • Albert Nelson, manager, East and North Neighborhood Centers of the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC)
  • Tanya Vargas, president, Free Medical Clinic of Oak Ridge
  • Barbara Kelly, executive director, CAC
  • Marcy Frankel, credit counselor, CredAbility
  • David Reidy, UT professor of political philosophy

Lori Galbraith, CAC senior program coordinator, helped Snow identify potential interview candidates for the project.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do this without Lori’s help,” Snow said. “She is plugged in to the needs of this segment of our community.”

“The people I met are one step from disaster,” Snow continued. “If a car breaks down or if a utility bill is too high, it can be devastating. Some of the people I interviewed live below the poverty line; others make a little too much money to qualify for assistance programs, but not enough to make ends meet. So getting ahead becomes almost impossible.”

The region’s working poor represent a segment of the population often overworked and overlooked, proudly and quietly committing to an ideal in which the ability and desire to work are fundamental elements of character. These individuals and families are teetering on the edge of financial chaos, where one small slip or a streak of bad luck can compromise whatever modest gains may have accumulated through the years.

“The people Leslie interviewed are independent,” Powell said. “They struggle to survive, work multiple jobs, and watch their money closely. They sometimes have to choose between paying their bills and eating. They’re not looking for a handout—they want to be able to make it on their own.”

Listener-supported WUOT 91.9 FM is a Public Radio International affiliate. The station’s primary format is classical and jazz music, news, and public affairs. WUOT serves listeners throughout East Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. The station broadcasts twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and streams on the station’s website. WUOT’s second audio channel, WUOT-2, is available on HD Radio, Internet radio, and the web.

Photos of the participants and the radio segments will be available on the WUOT website.

C O N T A C T :

Matt Shafer Powell, (865-974-9354-work, 865 250-9952-cell,