Matthew F. Smith

Producer, Vermont Edition

Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, as well as a radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he spent several months producing television news before joining WGCU as a producer for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined VPR in October 2017.

Matthew studied English and journalism at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa., where he wrote for the school newspaper and other school publications. He taught English as a Second Language for several years in China and the U.S. before pursuing a career in journalism.

"Vermont Edition" looks at the challenges and dangers solo hikers face, in Vermont and beyond.
Tim Foster / Unsplash

Live call-in discussion: An attack on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia in early May left one hiker dead and another injured. The violence ignited conversations among hikers across the country, sharing stories of times they felt unsafe and reconciling the relative safety of the wilderness with fears such incidents could happen again. We're talking with experienced hikers about staying safe on the trail.

Congressman Peter Welch makes phone calls in his office in Washington, D.C.
Eman Mohammed for VPR

Costs for generic medications have skyrocketed in recent years, with some increasing by as much as 8,000%. The explosion in drug costs is the leading factor behind the nearly 16% rate hike Blue Cross Blue Shield Vermont requested this month for participants in Vermont Health Connect.

Now Congressman Peter Welch is co-sponsoring several bills to reign in prescription drug costs at the federal level.

The Did It Work? logo in white text on a blue background with the VPR logo in the corner
Meg Malone / VPR

This week on All Things Considered, VPR host and reporter Henry Epp has been exploring a singular question about publicly-funded programs in Vermont, both big and small: "Did it work?"

The weeklong series follows up on a handful of initiatives over the past few years and looks how much bang — if any — Vermonters got for their buck.

The House floor during opening day of the Vermont Legislature on Jan. 9, 2019. We're talking with Republican leaders in the statehouse to get their thoughts as the legislative session nears its end.
Oliver Parini / VPR

Lawmakers are wrapping up the legislative session and we're talking with Republican leaders in the House and Senate about what they want to accomplish in their final days in Montpelier. 

A lone feral swine tracked by trail cameras was shot and killed in Lyndonville in March. It tested positive for pseudorabies, a virus that's harmless to humans but potentially deadline to livestock and pets.
Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

A lone feral swine shot and killed near Lyndonville in March tested positive for the pseudorabies virus, or PRV. The virus is harmless to humans but can be lethal to domestic pigs, other livestock and pets. And once a pig is infected with PRV, it can continue to spread the virus for the rest of its life. 

Vermont's only native lizard, a five-lined skink, on the move in June 2018. The species is considered endangered in Vermont.
Will Brown / Wikimedia Commons

Vermont's small-bodied snakes are moving, some turtles are basking and vernal pools are beginning to teem with new life. But amid a cool, wet spring, some reptiles and amphibians are still sluggish and vernal pools in higher elevations are still waiting to warm up. We're talking about where Vermont's "herps" are this year and the challenges they face in the near- and long-term.

Two reporters published a lengthy story in "The Globe And Mail" newspaper revealing an online network of 180 far right white supremacists across Canada.
Jorge Villalba / iStock

They were white, mostly young, and all men. They met online, ostensibly to chat about video games. They called themselves the Canadian Super Players. But what they really discussed was far more sinister: an ideology of hate and white supremacy, and ways to spread those beliefs and bring them into Canadian politics and society.

David Reinert holds a Q sign while waiting in line at a campaign rally for President Donald Trump in Wilkes-Barre, PA in August 2018. The "QAnon" conspiracy is an example of what a new book calls the "new conspiracism."
Matt Rourke / AP

Conspiracy theories are about as old as governments themselves. But "the new conspiracism" is something new and different; it's conspiracy without the theory, say the authors of a new book on conspiracy thinking. We're talking about the new conspiracism and how it disorients our conversations and affects democracy, institutions and daily life.

Ford's Crown Victoria Interceptor was the car of choice for Vermont State Police and many local and state law enforcement agencies. VSP took their last Crown Vic out of service in November and will auction off the last one to come off the road this month.
Vermont State Police

It was pretty easy to spot a police car in Vermont in the years around the turn of the century. Local or state officers were likely behind the wheel of a singularly iconic car: the Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor. But no longer.

A woman gets a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in Pomona, N.Y. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports nearly two-thirds of more than 700 measles cases in the U.S. this year are in New York state.
Seth Wenig / AP

There are now more than 760 cases of measles across the U.S., in the worst outbreak in decades. Vermont public health officials have been working for years to raise vaccination rates for measles and other communicable diseases. We're talking with doctors and state health officials about Vermont's vaccination statistics and how they're preparing for a potential measles outbreak.

Potency and frequency of use of marijuana can have long-lasting negative effects on developing brains, pediatric psychiatrists say.
Feodora Chiosea / iStock

Doctors, psychiatrists and other health professionals say marijuana can be very damaging to young and developing brains and that they're seeing young people with increasingly negative effects from consuming the drug. 

Mitzi Johnson in the House chamber in 2016. She joins "Vermont Edition" to discuss priorities at the end of the 2019 legislative session.
Angela Evancie / VPR

In the final weeks of the legislative session, lawmakers face tough choices as they focus on which bills can pass, and decide which priorities will have to wait. House Speaker Mitzi Johnson joins Vermont Edition to talk about plans in the House to tackle — and fund — big-ticket items like clean water projects, minimum wage, marijuana regulation and more.

An affiliate reinsurance company, or ARC, is an insurance product the Dept. of Financial Regulation thinks could bring new business to Vermont, similar to captive insurance.
erhui1979 / istock

Vermont's Department of Financial Regulation is home to a captive insurance division that stealthily regulates over 600 companies registered in the state and brings in around $25 million a year. Now the division is offering another insurance product it hopes could bring additional business to the state: it's called ARC, short for an affiliate reinsurance company.

An increasing amount of the state's revenue - now roughly 40 percent - goes toward pension obligations. We're talking about Vermont's retirement liabilities and how they affect state spending on other projects.
sorbetto / iStock

Vermont owes $1.5 billion in unfunded teacher pensions. After years of underfunding and low returns, paying for these pensions and other retirement obligations takes up a growing portion of the state budget. We're talking about ways Vermont is addressing these retirement liabilities and how it all affects the state's ability to pay for new projects.

Mourners lay flowers on a wall at the Botanical Gardens in Christchurch, New Zealand, Monday, March 18, 2019.
Vincent Thian / AP

Last month, the Addison Independent published a poem by Narges Anzali, a 13-year-old eighth grader who attends Middlebury Union Middle School. The poem is titled simply: "To All The People Who Hate Muslims."

Special counsel Robert Mueller's redacted report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was released Thursday, April 18, 2019.
Jon Elswick / AP

A redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Trump-Russia investigation was released Thursday, April 18. We're talking with Vermont journalist and author Garrett Graff, who's reported on Mueller for more than a decade and followed the Special Counsel from the beginning, on what we've learned from reading Mueller's own words and seeing the redacted report.

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman in the House Chamber in 2016. Lt. Gov. Zuckerman joins "Vermont Edition" to discuss the current legislative session and the status of certain priorities so far in Montpelier.
Angela Evancie / VPR

The Vermont legislative sessions has passed its midpoint, and we’re talking with Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman about where some of his key priorities for the session — like paid family leave and a tax-and-regulate plan for marijuana — stand in the legislature.

A child looks on as a duo play the 1988 "Operation Thunderbolt" arcade game during the April 7, 2019 opening of the "Dream Machine II Arcade Exhibit" in Rutland.
Nick Grandchamp, courtesy

You're just as likely to run into a game of Pac-Man or Street Fighter II today in the basement of a diehard collector of retro 1980s arcade games as you are to play one in the corner of a pizza parlor or bowling alley. But one Rutland collector is putting more than a dozen of the machines together in a pop-up exhibit showcasing the games, their history and the value of playing together.

At the New York State Capitol in Albany, legislators have been debating the budget, a plastic bag ban and funding for clean water projects.
Izumi Jones / Unsplash

The New York state legislature is dealing with many of the same issues as lawmakers in Vermont; in Albany there's been debate as lawmakers work on putting together a plastic bag ban and coming up with the right source for clean water funding. And then there's the budget that just passed and awaits a signature from the governor.

Blue-green algae blooms in the summer of 2014 in Lake Champlain.
Taylor Dobbs / VPR FILE

Vermont lawmakers agree the state needs millions of dollars' worth of clean water projects. But there's less agreement on where Vermont will get the roughly $60 million it needs to fund them. We're talking about clean water plans advancing in Montpelier and what the options are to pay for them.

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