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

Jeff Guinn, author of “Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson” (now out in paperback) says he wanted to answer two questions with the book: “Why does Manson’s name still resonate with us, all these years after those famous murders? And what happened in his life to make him the way he turned out?” Guinn says that in answering those questions “it was really like a trip across American history because Manson represents so many aspects of American society.” More than 40 years ago Charles Manson and his mostly female commune killed nine people, among them the pregnant actress Sharon Tate.

 

Fairy tales have endured as a part of our culture since at least the days of the Brothers Grimm, and they’re  still going strong on television, movies and books today. What do fairy tales mean? What do they reflect in our shared concerns? And what does the continuing trend toward fractured and reinvented fairy tales say about us? We’ll talk about this with Lynne McNeill, an instructor and director of online development for the folklore program at Utah State University and co-founder of and faculty advisor for the USU Folklore Society; and Utah author RaShelle Workman, who writes reinvented fairy tales. Her books include “A Beauty So Beastly,” in which she imagines what would happen if the beauty was also the beast. And her “Blood and Snow” series is a retelling of Snow White with a vampire twist.

At 22, Michael Leach’s dream of becoming a Yellowstone ranger came true. It wasn’t long before he’d earned the nickname “Rev” for his powerful Yellowstone “sermons.”  In Grizzlies on My Mind: Essays of Adventure, Love, and Heartache from Yellowstone Country,” Leach shares his love for Yellowstone—its landscapes and wildlife, especially its iconic bison and grizzlies—as he tells stories of human lives lost, efforts to save a black bear cub, a famous wolf who helped Leach through some dark personal days, the unique and often humorous Yellowstone “culture,” backpacking trips that nearly ended in disaster, and Leach’s spiritual journey with his Assiniboine-Gros Ventre “brother.”


Access Utah Host Tom Williams attended the 27th annual Utah Rural Summit, held August 7th and 8th in Cedar City, Utah and spoke with conference keynote speakers Chuck Schroeder, Executive Director of the Rural Futures Institute, Jeff Yost, Pres­ident of the Nebraska Community Foundation.


  

 

Lewis Buzbee was a self-proclaimed “average student,” one whose parents did not go to college. After the death of his father he began to spiral downward, but was saved from failing high school by attentive teachers-teachers who had ample resources thanks to a well-funded California school system. But now, schools have been devastated by funding cuts, and Buzbee wonders in his new book “Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom,” if it’s still possible to save at-risk students when “the public will to fund public education remains pallid, timid, hypocritical.” Searching for solutions, Buzbee looks to the origins of kindergarten, muses on the architecture of schools, and organizing principles and objects of the classroom like the blackboard and the desk, to discover what those spaces and objects tell students about the importance of learning. Buzbee offers insight not only as a student but also as a teacher and a father, contrasting his daughter’s experiences with his own. And, in the book’s epilogue, he offers a seven-point “immodest proposal” to save our schools.

tradeandexportme.com

We’re putting more and more of our lives in the cloud. More and more our transactions are electronic, which is convenient and fast. But is it safe? How secure is all that stuff in the cloud or moving around electronically, like your credit card information or your bank records? Malware might have your computer linked into fraudulent activity right now without your knowledge. And how vulnerable are we to surveillance, by government or anyone else? The USU Huntsman School Partners in Business Information Technology Conference featured a panel discussion on security in February.

It’s all there in “Latter-day Lore: Mormon Folklore Studies” (from University of Utah Press) -- The Three Nephites, The Beehive, Creative Date Invitations, BYU Coed Jokes, The Folklore of Mormon Missionaries, The Apocalypse, and more. “Latter-day Lore” explores society, symbols, and landscape of regional culture; formative customs and traditions; the sacred and the supernatural; pioneers, heroes, and the historical imagination; humor; and the international contexts of Mormon folklore. On Thursday’s AU we’ll revisit a conversation with the editors: Eric A.

Hooman Majd: The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to not stay cover
Hooman Majd

In 2011, with U.S.–Iran relations at a thirty-year low, Iranian-American writer Hooman Majd decided to take his blonde, blue-eyed Midwestern wife Karri and his infant son Khash from their Brooklyn neighborhood to spend a year in the land of his birth. “The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay” traces their domestic adventures and tracks the political drama of a terrible year for Iran's government. The Green Movement had been crushed, but the regime was on edge, anxious lest democratic protests resurge.

We remember Ed Abbey, author of “The Monkey Wrench Gang” and “Desert Solitaire,” and consider his legacy. What is Abbey's relevance today? What is the status of the environmental movement today? We’ll talk about Abbey's political philosophies, rooted in traditions of anarchism and civil disobedience, the rise of Earth First! out of Abbey's writings, and "monkeywrenching" today, including Abbey’s influence on activists like Tim DeChristopher.

Listen to Access Utah here.

al.nd.edu

In his book, “The Unintended Reformation: How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society,” Notre Dame History Professor Brad Gregory shows how the unsolved doctrinal disagreements and religious and political conflicts of 16th- and 17th-century Europe continue to influence American political, social, intellectual, and economic life today.

He asks what propelled the West into a trajectory of pluralism, polarization and consumerism, and finds answers deep in our medieval Christian past.

How to Quinoa book cover
Amazon

Forget the royal baby and Suri Cruise. Meet Quinoa, a viral sensation and star of the popular Pinterest board, My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter. Quinoa is a trendy, fashion-forward girl who, when she’s not hanging out with her BFFs Chevron and Aioli, is teaching the world about proper parenting, fashion and accessorization, etiquette for play dates, and much more.

In the fifth century BC, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of a high plateau in a mountainous region where there were gold-digging ants. This launched the myth of Tibet as a place of beauty, riches and peace. University of Cambridge Professors, Lezlee Brown Halper and Stefan Halper, were invited to visit Tibet in 1997 as guests of the Chinese government. The only way to see the place while they were there was to sneak out of their hotel window, past their Chinese guards at 3 a.m. They were shocked by the real Tibet they encountered: a 180 degree departure from the myth.

usu.edu

M. B. McLatchey is recipient of the May Swenson Poetry Award for “The Lame God,” a collection of powerful poems on a very sensitive subject: the kidnap and murder of a young girl. Using the art of poetry she gives voice to a suffering—and a love—that might otherwise go unheard. Philip Brady says of this collection, “in magisterial cadences, this powerful poetic sequence gives voice to the unspeakable and transposes profound grief into immortal song. McLatchey's poems are talismans and spells--not against loss but against forgetting.

jaredfarmer.net

On Wednesday’s AU we’ll revisit our conversation from January with Jared Farmer whose latest book is “Trees in Paradise: A California History.”  In addition to California, we’ll talk about Utah history, and Farmer will offer his list of iconic Utah trees as well. California now has more trees than at any time since the late Pleistocene. This green landscape, however, is not the work of nature. It's the work of history. In the years after the Gold Rush, American settlers remade the California landscape, harnessing nature to their vision of the good life.

What’s on your nightstand or in your beach bag? Periodically we come together as a UPR community to build a reading list. And It’s time once again. We want to know what you’re reading, whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, classic literature, young adult or children’s books. You may have discovered a great read that we’d enjoy.  You can post your book list to upraccess@gmail.com or call 1-800-826-1495 during Access Utah Tuesday from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. Elaine Thatcher will join Tom Williams for the program; and we’ll check in with Catherine Weller from Weller Book Works in SLC and other booksellers.

Access Utah Booklist:

Frederick Law Olmsted video shot
PBS

Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of American landscape architecture, made public parks an essential part of American life and forever changed our relationship with public open spaces. He was co-designer of Central Park, head of the first Yosemite commission, leader of the campaign to protect Niagara Falls, designer of the U.S. Capitol Grounds, site planner for the Great White City of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, planner of Boston’s “Emerald Necklace” of green space, and of park systems in many other cities.

Olmsted’s design of the public parks and parkway systems in Buffalo, New York, is the oldest coordinated system in America and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To Olmsted, a park was both a work of art and a necessity for urban life. His efforts to preserve nature created an “environmental ethic” decades before the environmental movement became a force in American politics. “Olmsted has a double legacy," says writer Adam Gopnik. "On the one hand, he’s a super pragmatist; he’s a problem solver. At the same time, he’s a dreamer. What his parks are all about is finding immensely practical solutions to the problem of building a dream in the middle of a city."

Beyond Versus: The Struggle to Understand the Interaction of Nature and Nurture
MIT Press

If scientists supposedly now agree it’s not nature versus nurture; but the interaction of nature and nurture, why does the debate still go on? James Tabery, Associate Professor of Philosophy at University of Utah says it’s because those scientists aren’t just arguing about data and results. They’re engaged in a fundamentally philosophical debate about what “the interaction of nature and nurture” actually means. He says that “from disputes in the 1930s regarding eugenic sterilizations, to controversies in the 1970s about the gap in IQ scores for black and white Americans, to the contemporary debate about the causes of depression—this frustratingly persistent debate keeps emerging, even as the cast and context of each iteration of that debate changes from decade to decade.”

gulp book cover
Mary Roach

In “Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal,” Mary Roach explores the much-maligned but vital tube from mouth to rear that turns food into the nutrients that keep us alive. She introduces us to scientists who tackle questions no one else thinks to ask. Why doesn't the stomach digest itself? Can wine tasters really tell a $10 bottle from a $100 bottle? Why do Americans eat, on average, no more than thirty different foods on a regular basis? “Gulp” is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.

chuckgreaves.com

In May of 1934, outside of Hugo, Oklahoma, a homeless man and his 13 year-old daughter are befriended by a Texas drifter newly released from the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. The drifter, Clint Palmer, lures father and daughter to Texas, where the father, Dillard Garrett, mysteriously disappears, and where his daughter Lucile begins a one-year ordeal that culminates in four Utah killings and Palmer’s notorious Greenville, Texas “skeleton murder” trial of 1935. 


amazon.com

Lily Nakai and her family lived in southern California, where sometimes she and a friend dreamt of climbing the Hollywood sign that lit the night. At 10, believing that her family was simply going on a “camping trip,” she found herself living in a tar-papered barracks, nightly gazing out instead at a searchlight. She wondered if anything would ever be normal again. 

nicholasbasbanes.com

Nicholas Basbanes is author of a trilogy on all things book-related including “A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books,” In his latest, “On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand Year History,” he considers everything from paper’s invention in China two thousand years ago, which revolutionized human civilization, to its crucial role in the unfolding of historical events, political scandals, and sensational trials: from the American Revolution to the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. 

amazon.com

Justin Hocking, author of a new memoir, “The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld,” writes: “Fifteen years ago, I first dove into the immense, dark waters of Melville's masterpiece...I became obsessed with a book about obsession.

http://photos.state.gov/

For decades, Walter Cronkite was known as "the most trusted man in America." Millions across the nation welcomed him into their homes, first as a print reporter for the United Press on the front lines of World War II, and  later, in the emerging medium of television, as a host of numerous documentary programs and as anchor of the CBS Evening News, from 1961 until his retirement in 1981. 

uofupress.com

Armando Solórzano, Director of Chicano Studies at the University of Utah, says that years of neglect and omission from historical records have taken their toll on the historical consciousness of Latinos in Utah. For a long time, many people, including a large percentage of the Latino community, believed that the presence of Latinos or their ancestors in the state was merely a twentieth-century phenomenon. 


Courtesy of Jon Kovash

Sometime next year, a federal judge will decide whether Native Americans are still being shut out of political power in San Juan County, where now more than 52 percent of residents are Navajo or Ute tribal members. At issue will be the Navajo Nation’s claim that voting districts in the county have been gerrymandered to assure a permanent white majority in local elections. 


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