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.

Ways To Connect

denverlibrary.org

Today we recap the mid-term elections which saw control of the U. S. Senate return to the Republicans and a Republican clean sweep in Utah’s congressional races. One constitutional amendment passed in Utah and two were defeated. Several state school board incumbents were defeated. 

We’ll open the phone lines for your comments. What race were you keying on? What are your predictions for the future? What issues concern you? Today also marks the unofficial start to the 2016 presidential campaign. We’ll talk about all of this and more with Deseret News columnists LaVarr Webb and Frank Pignanelli; and Mike Lyons and Damon Cann from the USU Political Science Department.


startribune.com

From Farinelli, the eighteenth century castrato who brought down opera houses with his high C, to the recording of "Johnny B. Goode" affixed to the Voyager spacecraft, Elena Passarello, in Let Me Clear My Throat dissects the whys and hows of popular voices. There are murders of punk rock crows, impressionists, and rebel yells; Howard Dean's "BYAH!" and Marlon Brando's "Stella!" and a stock film yawp that has made cameos in movies from A Star is Born to Spaceballs. The voice is thought's incarnating instrument and Elena Passarello's essays are a deconstruction of the ways the sounds we make both express and shape who we are—the annotated soundtrack of us giving voice to ourselves.

amazon.com

In “Outlawing Genocide Denial: The Dilemmas of Official Historical Truth” (University of Utah Press) historian and political scientist Guenter Lewy scrutinizes the practice of criminalizing the expression of unpopular, even odious historical interpretations, exemplified by genocide denial. Holocaust denial can be viewed as another form of hatred against the Jews and preventing it can be understood as a form of warding off hate speech. Germany has made it a crime punishable by law. Other European countries have similar laws.

bloggingfoodforthought.blogspot.com

A piece of the 21st century pie--people everywhere are clamoring for their own life-sustaining morsel. But water, pesticide, distribution, and financial issues seem to conspire against assuring a hungry world there will be enough to eat. Noelle Cockett, executive vice president and provost for Utah State University, has long been researching answers to the question of how to feed 21st century populations. Dr. Cockett brought her expertise to Utah State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Tanner Talks when she kicked off the 2013-15 lecture series last month with a look into the future of food production. Her talk was titled: “Feast or Famine: Feeding a Hungry World in the 21st Century.”

Provost Cockett will join Tom Williams for Friday’s Access Utah.


snookerbacker.com

A while back on Access Utah, Glen in the Uintah Basin shared this story: “I used to haul crude oil from oil wells. We have an area in central Duchesne County called the Koch Field. It was originally operated by the infamous Koch brothers' business and developed in the 1970s and early 80s. The Koch field is very remote and quite rugged. Many oilfield workers claimed to have seen a ‘headless horseman.’ I first heard about this when I was dispatched to a load out in the field probably in 1999.

linkedin.com

In this age of smartphones, work doesn’t necessarily end when you leave the office. For many there is an expectation that you should be available after hours. Germany is considering legislation that would ban employers from contacting workers after office hours. Labor Minister Andrea Nahles says "there is an undeniable relationship between constant availability and the increase of mental illness."

And what about work/life balance? Entrepreneur and mother of three, Inge Geerdens, writing on LinkedIn, says “I don’t need a balance; I’m not looking for a way to balance my private life with my professional life. I’m just trying to have a great life.” What do you think? Tell us about your work and how you are balancing everything, especially with the explosion of technology.


imdb.com

On an early autumn afternoon, gay teen Zack Harrington killed himself with a gunshot to the head at his parent’s ranch in Norman, Oklahoma. One week earlier, Zack allegedly attended a local city council meeting in support of a proposal for LGBTQ History Month. When the floor opened up for public comment, some community members made controversial statements equating being gay with the spread of diseases such as HIV and AIDS.

Against the backdrop of a town bitterly divided on the issue of homosexuality, Zack’s parents, both conservative Republicans and military veterans, are forced to reconcile their own social and political beliefs with their son’s death. Determined to understand him, they discover a diary, which paints a portrait of a boy in crisis, and a secret that Zack kept hidden for almost two years. It leads them to some painful conclusions about their son’s life and death.

utahhumanities.org

Hal Crimmel, Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor of English at Weber State University, is editor of a new book "Desert Water: The Future of Utah's Water Resources" (University of Utah Press) which brings together the results of scientific research and the voices of environmental humanists, social scientists, and policy advocates to provide a broad perspective on Utah water issues.


grist.org

In 2012, two skiers from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, noticed that snow was disappearing from the western U.S. and wondered how long it would be before it affected the mountains in their backyard. They called Porter Fox, a longtime Powder magazine editor and writer, and asked if he was interested in writing a book about climate change and snow.

In the resulting book, ”DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow” Fox notes that in the last 45 years, 1 million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Rocky Mountain spring snowpack is down by 20%, and Europe has lost half of its glacial ice. Winter warming in the U.S. has tripled since 1970, and warming in the European Alps is now three times the global average. By mid-century, climatologists predict that more than half of the Northeast's 103 ski resorts will have to close due to rising temperatures. Two-thirds of Europe's ski resorts will likely no longer be snow-reliable in 50-70 years. The Western U.S. could lose anywhere from 25-100% of its snowpack by 2100, effectively ending skiing at resorts like Park City and relegating ski operations at Aspen to the top quarter of the mountain. And that's just the beginning...

voicesofyouth.org

Dallas Hyland, a photojournalist and resident of St. George, recently traveled to Colombia with a privately-funded organization, Operation Underground Railroad, to execute what they called Clear Hope; a mission they say proved to be the biggest child trafficking rescue operation in history.

Hyland says that there are approximately 23-million people worldwide in some form of subjugation, including forced labor, and sex labor. And two million of those are children. He adds that “...at the height of the Trans-Atlantic trade, the slave trade, I believe the numbers were around 17 million. This is alarming because that means we’re not progressing, we’re digressing. ...slavery did not end with the Civil War...It’s getting worse. It’s just underground and nobody talks about it.” 


It’s been THE topic of conversation at Utah State University for several days now as well as making the pages of the New York Times and the airwaves of NPR: After learning that USU was legally forbidden from restricting firearms at a Wednesday lecture over which she received a death threat, nationally-known feminist writer and video game critic, Anita Sarkeesian, canceled her appearance. (SLTrib) She says she won’t appear at a Utah school until guns are barred from the state’s campuses.

Rep. Curt Oda says she’s overreacting and says that he wants to further strengthen gun rights by reinforcing Utah law allowing open carrying of guns on Utah’s college campuses. Students and faculty gathered Wednesday at USU to promote free speech and condemn threats against Sarkeesian.


mavgetaways.com

On Monday's Access Utah we'll revisit a conversation from March.  

Two Utah Valley University professors who describe themselves as similar to hosts Click and Clack from NPR’s "Car Talk," set out to repeatedly bike the Great Western Trail, observing and writing about its variations with every season. The accounts of their adventures, however, refuse to be limited to flora and fauna.

Listen Here

sfari.org

Friday on Access Utah host Sheri Quinn revisits her conversation with former oil executive and geologist Marc Deshowitz about the unique geology of southern Utah parks and the ancient history of oil in the area.    At 9:30 Science Questions presents a special encore program about youth addiction and recovery featuring Utah addiction scientist Glen Hanson and an educational approach gaining popularity across the nation that fosters recover schools. 

amazon.com

William Alexander is more than a Francophile. He wants to be French. There’s one small problem: he doesn’t speak the language. In “Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart” Alexander sets out to conquer the language he loves. But will it love him back?

Alexander eats, breathes, and sleeps French (even conjugating in his dreams). He travels to France, where mistranslations send him bicycling off in all sorts of wrong directions, and he nearly drowns in an immersion class in Provence. While playing hooky from grammar lessons and memory techniques, Alexander reports on the Académie française, the four-hundred-year-old institution charged with keeping the language pure; explores the science of human communication, learning why it’s harder for fifty-year-olds to learn a second language than it is for five-year-olds; and, frustrated with his progress, explores an IBM research lab, where he trades barbs with a futuristic hand-held translator. Does he succeed in becoming fluent?  Alexander is surprised to discover that studying French may have had a far greater impact on his life than actually learning to speak it ever would.

amazon.com

Technological advances seem to be accelerating. Every day we hear of something new: self-driving cars, wearable computers, factory robots, digitized medicine… Continuing advances in computers and automation can reduce workloads, increase productivity, and even imbue life with a sense of wonder. But Nicholas Carr, in his new book, “The Glass Cage: Automation and Us,” says there are hidden costs in granting software dominion over our work and leisure. Even as these programs bring ease to our lives, he says, they are stealing something essential from us.

Drawing on psychological and neurological studies that underscore how tightly people’s happiness and satisfaction are tied to performing hard work in the real world, Carr reveals something we already suspect: shifting our attention to computer screens can leave us disengaged and discontented. From nineteenth-century textile mills to the cockpits of modern jets, from the frozen hunting grounds of Inuit tribes to the sterile landscapes of GPS maps, “The Glass Cage” examines the personal as well as the economic consequences of our growing dependence on computers.

sltrib.com

Tuesday we’ll revisit this conversation from May:

Josh Hanagarne couldn't be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn't officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms.

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By the time he was twenty, the young Mormon had reached his towering adult height of 6'7" when — while serving on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — his Tourette's tics escalated to nightmarish levels. Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman — and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison — taught Josh how to "throttle" his tics into submission through strength-training.

teamrubiconusa.org

Russell Honore came to national attention when, as a U.S. Army Lt. General, he was assigned to lead the Department of Defense’s Joint Task-Force Katrina. The hurricane hit on Monday, August 29, 2005, and he was put in charge of overseeing the federal emergency response on Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. By the time he arrived on Wednesday morning thousands of people were stranded on roof tops and in attics and more than 16,000 people were at the Superdome along with a similar number at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, according to Honore.

General Honore gained a reputation as a straight-talking no-nonsense leader who got things done and was called the”Category 5 General” and that “John Wayne dude.” He served 37 years in the military and supported the Department of Defense’s response to several hurricanes including Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Lili in 2002. Now retired from the army, he says his current mission is to help build a culture of preparedness in families and communities. His books include “Leadership in the New Normal” and “Survival: How Being Prepared Can Keep You and Your Family Safe.” He is currently a senior scientist with The Gallup Organization, where he is working on developing questions to determine levels of preparedness. He is also an active public speaker and regular contributor to CNN where he is often interviewed on topics related to disaster preparedness.

amazon.com

In her new book “The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us” Diane Ackerman writes that “our relationship with nature has changed radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad. Our new epoch is laced with invention. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable.”

 

Ackerman, who appeared recently at the Utah Humanities Council Book Festival, confronts the fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the planet. She says that humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” We now collect the DNA of vanishing species in a “frozen ark,” equip orangutans with iPads, create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. Ackerman, author of “A Natural History of the Senses,” seeks to help us understand this new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating — perhaps saving — our future.

 


washingtonpost.com

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear same-sex marriage appeals from Utah and four other states, letting stand lower court rulings that allow gays and lesbians to marry. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted the hold it had placed on same-sex marriages in Utah and four other states.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes said at a news conference that the state would abide by the law. The governor has sent state agencies a letter advising them to immediately recognize legally performed same-sex marriages.

sltrib.com

On Monday’s AU we’ll spend the hour with Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank. We’ll talk about events in Ferguson, Missouri, including issues of race and police militarization. We’ll also talk about recent shootings in Utah, police body cameras, and community policing, among other issues. 


mormonmatters.org

How do men and women shape history? Do human values have a role in the writing of history? At a time when the so-called New Mormon history appears to be running its course, it may be time to rethink our approaches.  So says Ronald W. Walker, professional historian and BYU Professor of History, Emeritus.   Walker, who is giving the Twentieth Annual Arrington Mormon History Lecture at the Logan LDS Tabernacle at 7:00 p.m. tonight says that the Utah War, an event with an intriguing cast of characters including Mormon leader Brigham Young, is a good topic for testing these suppositions. The title of Walker’s talk is “Heroes and Hero Worship: Brigham Young and the Utah War.” He addresses such questions as: Did Mormons support the war? What were constitutional theories behind Mormon resistance to the Utah Expedition? And when and why should men and women fight a war? 

livemorewithless.org

The new Mormon Environmental Stewardship Alliance (MESA) says that “it is no longer sufficient to merely protest ‘supply side’ assaults on the environment such as coal-fired power plants, fracking, tar sands & oil shale, etc. … The other half of the problem is the demand for dirty energy.  MESA, along with many of Utah’s faith communities and universities, is organizing the “Live More with Less” Conference to be held in the Utah Valley University Science Auditorium on October 3, from 1:30 to 6:30 pm. to “challenge society’s assumption that ‘prosperity’ relies upon an economy based on endless growth and consumption."

facebook.com/hungryandhomeless

On Tuesday’s AU we’ll look at the problem of homelessness through the eyes of Florida middle school teacher (and Navy veteran) Tom Rebman. He recently spent a month living as though he were homeless to raise awareness for a food bank and to inspire the kids he worked with. He told the Deseret News that this experience was the hardest thing he’s ever done and that he couldn’t have predicted the extent of the realities of living on the street, including sleepless nights, hunger and constant fear.  

And he says that “every myth that [he] thought about homelessness was busted.” He has become an advocate for the homeless people he met

jwfrank.com

On Monday’s AU we revisit our conversation with Paul Bogard:

 

Paul Bogard, author of “The End of Night: Searching for Natural Darkness in an Age of Artificial Light,” spent his childhood summers in a cabin on a lake in northern Minnesota, where shooting stars cut across swaths of countless stars, the Milky Way reflected off the lake, and the woods were so dark he couldn’t see his hands in front of his face. In our modern world of nights as bright as day, most of us no longer experience true darkness. Eight out of ten Americans born today won’t ever live where they can see the Milky Way. Bogard believes that a starry night is one of nature's most magical wonders. Yet in our artificially lit world, three-quarters of Americans' eyes never switch to night vision and most of us no longer experience true darkness.

bookinwithbingo.blogspot.com

On the last day of summer in 2006, a Utah college student named Reggie Shaw killed two rocket scientists while texting and driving in Cache Valley. In his new book, “A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention” Pulitzer prize winning New York Times reporter, Matt Richtel, follows Shaw through the tragedy, his denial of its cause, the police investigation, the state’s groundbreaking prosecution (at the time there was little precedent to guide the court), and ultimately Shaw’s improbable admission of guilt, and his redemption.

In the wake of his experience, Shaw has become a leading advocate against distracted driving, and his story has helped spark a national public relations and legislative effort targeting distracted driving, even as cars are increasingly becoming mobile communications centers and our digital devices enmesh themselves into almost every aspect of our lives. “A Deadly Wandering” tells Shaw’s story and those of his victims and the people who pursued justice. These stories highlight our human strengths and fragilities as we collide headlong with technology of unprecedented power.


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