Tom Williams

Program Director | Access Utah Host

Tom Williams worked as a part-time UPR announcer for a few years and joined Utah Public Radio full-time in 1996.  He is a proud graduate of Uintah High School in Vernal and Utah State University (B. A. in Liberal Arts and Master of Business Administration.)  He grew up in a family that regularly discussed everything from opera to religion to politics. He is interested in just about everything and loves to engage people in conversation, so you could say he has found the perfect job as host “Access Utah” and “Opera Saturday.”  He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.

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Warm2wardU publishing

On Tuesday’s AU we’ll look at the problem of homelessness with author Elaine Taylor, who writes in her new book "Karma Deception and a Pair of Red Ferraris" of how she came to find her self dedicated to helping the homeless. Taylor writes in her latest book, “the best of my life is behind me. I’m entering the period of throat wattles and colonoscopies every five years … and uselessness. Irrelevance.”

Being both blunt and wise she said, “Ya know, someone who feels as sorry for herself as you do ought to go out and do something for someone who’s got real problems.” That was the beginning of Elaine Taylor's work with Raphael House, a shelter for the homeless San Francisco families. We'll also speak with Lloyd Pendelton, former director of the Utah Homeless Task Force.

 

  


University of Utah Press

From their earliest days on the American frontier through their growth into a worldwide church, the spatially expansive Mormons made maps to help them create idealized communities, migrate to and colonize large parts of the American West, visualize the stories in their sacred texts, and spread their message internationally through a well-organized missionary system. This book identifies many Mormon mapmakers who played an important but heretofore unsung role in charting the course of Latter-day Saint history. For Mormons, maps had and continue to have both practical and spiritual significance. In addition to using maps to help build their new Zion and to explore the Intermountain West, Latter-day Saint mapmakers used them to depict locations and events described in the Book of Mormon. 


“Many scientists say it’s impossible to study thought and emotion in non-humans. Animals, they say, don’t communicate their inner turmoil through spoken word, which is why any attempt to understand their psyche is typically sneered at as ‘anthropomorphism’ (transferring your own experiences and emotions onto the animals you study) and deemed ‘unscientific,’” writes Becca Cudmore on www.audobon.org. Marine Biologist Carl Safina says that scientists who watch wild animals realize the absurdity of not addressing an animal’s inner life. In his new book “Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel” he takes us inside the lives and minds of animals, witnessing their profound capacity for perception, thought and emotion.


RJ SANGOSTI

On Tuesday's Access Utah we're airing interviews conducted in Vernal, while the Utah Public Radio team visited the Utah StoryCorps Booth. Vernal, and much of the Uintah Basin, are a community very much tied to oil and gas development, so we talk about the issues the area faces as their economy depends on oil industry. We speak with Vernal City Council member JoAnn Cowan, Vernal City Manager Ken Bassett about the future of Vernal and the Uintah Basin. Then later in the program we hear from Danielle Anderson, from StoryCorps. 

In Lucy Sana's newest novel, "The Cherry Harvest," she outlines a memorable coming-of-age story which explores a hidden side of the home front during World War II, when German POWs were put to work in a Wisconsin farm community. In the novel, the war has taken a toll on the Christiansen family. With food rationed and money scarce, the protagonist Charlotte, struggles to keep her family well fed. When their upcoming cherry harvest is threatened, strong-willed Charlotte helps persuade local authorities to allow German war prisoners from a nearby camp to pick the fruit.

 


vida.fundaciontelefonica.com

This broadcast of "Access Utah" is an encore presentation. Our interview with Paul Vanouse originally aired in April, 2015 on Utah Public Radio.

Artist Paul Vanouse is visiting USU as a part of the ARTsySTEM project. Tuesday on Access Utah we’ll discuss Race and DNA, the CSI Effect, DNA Fingerprints, the Human Genome Project, and related topics.Vanouse is an artist working in Emerging Media forms.  His artwork addresses complex issues raised by varied new techno-sciences using these very techno-sciences as a medium.  His artworks have included data collection devices that examine the ramifications of polling and categorization, genetic experiments that undermine scientific constructions of race and identity, and temporary organizations that playfully critique institutionalization and corporatization.


http://katharinehayhoe.com/

This broadcast of "Access Utah" is an encore presentation. Our interview with Dr. Katharine Hayhoe originally aired in March, 2015 on Utah Public Radio.

 

Climate change has been a hard sell among some communities of faith. Katharine Hayhoe is a Climate Scientist and an Evangelical Christian. She has spent years trying to convince other Christians that climate change is real. She told NPR that "the people we trust, the people we respect, the people whose values we share, in the conservative community, in the Christian community, those people are telling us, many of them, that this isn't a real problem — that it's a hoax. Even worse, that you can't be a Christian and think that climate change is real. You can't be a conservative and agree with the science." Hayhoe says that caring about climate change is one of the most Christian things you can do.

  

THE WASTE NOT OC COALITION

We waste 2.8 trillion pounds of food every year, worldwide. Meanwhile, 805 million people don’t have enough to eat. There is no one simple solution, but Dr. Eric Handler, Orange County Public Health Officer, is trying something new–Using Yellow Cabs deliver the food. Dr. HAndler proposes using cabs to connect the dots between gathering extra food, identifying those in need, getting it to them, making it easy for food service folks to participate. He’s the co-chair of the Waste Not OC Coalition (WNOC), which he hopes can serve as a model elsewhere. He was recently featured in National Geographic’s “The Plate,” where he discussed his work with using cabs to help the hungry. Later in the program we speak with Matt Whitaker, Director of the Cache Valley Food Pantry.


National Geographic

Today's broadcast of "Access Utah" was an encore presentation. Our interview with Dr. Gary Weitzman originally aired in March, 2015 on Utah Public Radio.

We love our dogs and cats, but their behavior can be baffling. (Maybe they’re thinking the same thing about us!) On Tuesday’s AU, our guest is veterinarian Gary Weitzman, President and CEO of the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, and author of “How to Speak Cat: A Guide to Decoding Cat Language” (published by National Geographic.). Dr. Weitzman is also author of “How to Speak Dog,” and “Everything Dogs.” We’ll answer your dog and cat questions, and talk about the San Diego Humane Society’s current effort called “Getting to Zero:” a comprehensive plan to save the life of every healthy and treatable animal in San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition shelters.


University of Utah Press

In 1859 Brigham Young sent two Mormon missionaries to live among the Hopi, "reduce their dialect to a written language," and then teach it to the Hopi so that they would be able to read the Book of Mormon in their own tongue. Young also instructed the men to teach the Hopi the Deseret alphabet, a phonemic system that he was promoting in place of the traditional Latin alphabet. While the Deseret alphabet faded out of use in just over twenty years, the manuscript penned by one of the missionaries has remained in existence. For decades it sat unidentified in the archives of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints-a mystery document having no title, author, or date. Computational linguist Kenneth Beesley and Dirk Elzinga, an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Brigham Young University, have now traced the manuscript's origin to those missionaries of 1859 and decoded its Hopi-English vocabulary written in the short-lived Deseret alphabet. Their new book, "An 1860 English-Hopi Vocabulary Written in the Deseret Alphabet" (from University of Utah Press) is a fascinating mix of linguistics, Mormon history, and Native American studies. 


Serbian Embassy, US

Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla produced hundreds of inventions and ideas which have changed our lives in profound ways, ranging from alternating current to wireless communication to remote control. Tesla's AC defeated Thomas Edison's DC, but Edison is celebrated in America and Tesla is relatively unknown. Where he is remembered, Tesla is known as the man who invented the twentieth century, but also as an early archetype of the mad scientist. 


Oxford University Press

Anonymous. WikiLeaks. The Syrian Electronic Army. Edward Snowden. Bitcoin. The Arab Spring. In every aspect of international affairs, digitally enabled actors are changing the way the world works and disrupting the institutions that once held a monopoly on power. In "Disruptive Power: The Crisis of the State in the Digital Age," Taylor Owen asks: How does the rise of hackers, digital humanitarians, cyber activism, automated violence and citizen journalists change the way we understand and act in the world? Are digital diplomacy and cyberwar the future of statecraft, or a sign of the crisis of the state? What new institutions will be needed to moderate emerging power structures and ensure accountability and the rule of law? 


Center for Literary Publishing

From undocumented men named Angel, to angels falling from the sky, Natalie Scenters-Zapico’s gripping debut collection, The Verging Cities, is filled with explorations of immigration and marriage, narco-violence and femicide, and angels in the domestic sphere. Deeply rooted along the US-México border in the sister cities of El Paso, Texas, and Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, these poems give a brave new voice to the ways in which international politics affect the individual. Composed in a variety of forms, from sonnet and epithalamium to endnotes and field notes, each poem distills violent stories of narcos, undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents, and the people who fall in love with each other and their traumas. 

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

On Wednesday’s AU, we’ll be talking again about Race in America. We’ll be responding, of course, to the killing of nine people in the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as the killing of Walter Scott in North Charleston. These deaths are, tragically, just the latest in a series of recent killings of African Americans.


securityledger.com

Michael Nees, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Lafayette College, writing in theconversation.com, says that "self-driving cars are expected to revolutionize the automobile industry. Rapid advances have led to working prototypes faster than most people expected. The anticipated benefits of this emerging technology include safer, faster and more eco-friendly transportation. But, says Nees, we shouldn't ignore the human element of automated driving. Self-driving cars will still need people. He says "we can draw insights from aviation, as many elements of piloting planes already have been taken over by computers." 

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in landmark case, Obergefell v. Hodges, that Same-Sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. Today on the program we get your reaction, as well as the opinion of Utah's only openly gay politician, Senator James Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, and Gay rights activist Derek Kitchen, who was the namesake of the Kitchen v Herbert Case that led to the strike down of Utah's Amendment 3, allowing for same-sex marriage in Utah back in 2013. Later in the program we here from Lynn Wardle, Bruce C. Hafen Professor of Law at Brigham Young University and Clifford Rosky, Professor of Law at University of Utah.


Jack Gruber, USA TODAY

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, and President Obama says the ACA is "here to stay." What's next for health care in Utah? What does this mean for you? We'll open the phone lines, email and Twitter for your comment or question and we'll look at possible expansion of Medicaid in Utah and related issues on a special edition of Access Utah. Joining us from the Utah Health Policy Project are Medicaid Policy Analyst RyLee Curtis and Randall Serr, Director of Take Care Utah. Also Joining the program are state Senators Brian Shiozawa and Luz Escamilla, along with State Representative Ed Redd. 


It was 2004, and Sean McFate had a mission in Burundi: to keep the president alive and prevent the country from spiraling into genocide, without anyone knowing that the United States was involved. The United States was, of course, involved, but only through McFate's employer, the military contractor DynCorp International. Throughout the world, similar scenarios are playing out daily. The United States can no longer go to war without contractors. Yet we don't know much about the industry's structure, its operations, or where it's heading. Even the U.S. government-the entity that actually pays them-knows relatively little. 


There are many needs in our communities, and there are dedicated individuals and nonprofits working to meet those needs. They sometimes don’t get the recognition they deserve, and you may want to help somehow but don’t know where and how. On Wednesday’s AU we’re opening the phone lines, email and Twitter and giving you the opportunity to spotlight a nonprofit or individual doing good in your community.

Amy Anderson from the Sunshine Terrace Foundation in Logan joins us for the hour and we’ll hear from representatives of Habitat for Humanity and other nonprofits, and we hope to hear from you!

Lance Hayashida, Caltech

Ken Valyear, Lecturer in cognitive neuroscience at Bangor University, writes in the Conversation that “Erik Sorto, 34, has been paralysed from the neck down for the past 13 years. However, thanks to a ground-breaking clinical trial [conducted by scientists at Caltech and USC], he has been able to smoothly drink a bottle of beer using a robotic arm controlled with his mind. He is the first patient to have had a neural prosthetic device implanted in a region of the brain thought to control intentions.” On Tuesday’s AU Ken Valyear will join us from Wales to discuss the latest in robotics and neuroscience.

Matthew LaPlante

Logan attorney Herm Olsen recently spent several weeks in the South Pacific island nation of Palau, helping the legal community there to make a transition to the jury trial system. Palau uses the American judicial system, but until recently they didn't allow for jury trials. Olsen reports to the Logan Herald Journal that "The Palauans were somewhat skeptical about a jury system, They said, 'Why do we need one? We have a judge.' One Palauan said 'I don't want to judge anybody. I don't want to make any decisions about guilt or innocence.'" An upcoming murder trial involving three defendants spurred the chief justice of the Palau Supreme Court to seek help. We'll also talk about the jury system in the U.S. and the ongoing meaning of the Magna Carta. 


storycorps.org

Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 50,000 interviews with over 100,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to their weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition. StoryCorps’ mission is “to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.”


W. W. Norton and Company

Our guest on Tuesday's AU is Mary Norris, who has spent more than three decades in The New Yorker's copy department. She's out with a new book "Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen" in which she addresses some of the most common and vexing problems in spelling, punctuation, and usage―comma faults, danglers, "who" vs. "whom," "that" vs. "which," compound words, gender-neutral language―and explains how to handle them. 


Readers of physical books leave traces: marginalia, slips of paper, fingerprints, highlighting, inscriptions. All books have histories, and libraries are not just collections of books and databases, but a medium of long-distance communication with other writers and readers.

"Letter to a Future Lover" is a collection several dozen brief pieces written by Ander Monson in response to library ephemera-with "library" defined broadly, ranging from university institutions to friends' shelves, from a seed library to a KGB prison library-and addressed to readers past, present, and future. 


Sandhill Cranes are some of the best-known, and loved, birds in the United States. Their tall stature and echoing calls combined with their close association with agricultural fields makes them easy to locate and instantly recognizable.  But there is far more to cranes than meets the eye. These magnificent birds have been part of the North American landscape for more than 9 million years. They have also inspired a documentary film "Mating for Life," which focuses on a personal pilgrimage by the filmmaker, Cindy Stillwell, to witness the annual spring migration of the Sandhill cranes. She sees in the birds a metaphor for human transformation. "Mating for Life" is a meditation on nature and art, and poses important questions about our need for both connection and solitude.

On Thursday's AU we'll talk with Cindy Stillwell and crane expert Paul Tebbel, who is the keynote speaker at the Cache Valley Sandhill Crane Festival, Friday and Saturday, June 12 & 13. 

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