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

Using minimal tools and a simple technique of bending, interweaving, and fastening together sticks, artist PatrickDougherty creates works of art inseparable with nature and the landscape. With a dazzling variety of forms seamlesslyintertwined with their context, his sculptures evoke fantastical images of nests, cocoons, cones, castles, and beehives.

Timothy Hawkes and Warren Petersen join Tom Williams to discuss the governors proposed 50 year water plan.  

Quoting from the Recommended State Water Plan: Utah faces a daunting challenge. We have the distinction of being both one of the driest states in the nation and one of the fastest growing. At the convergence of those two realities is the challenge of providing water for a population that is projected to nearly double by 2060 while maintaining strong farms 

In 2016, now President Donald Trump became the first major-party candidate in more than half a century to advocate a return to the gold standard for the U.S. dollar. In ONE NATION UNDER GOLD: How One Precious Metal Has Dominated the American Imagination for Four Centuries (Liveright: June 2017) INC Magazine editor and financial writer James Ledbetter explains how most mainstream economists argue the idea of returning to the gold standard is just not possible.  

Photo courtesy of Wellspring Educational Services

Monday's program is a window into the world of music therapy: an interesting intersection of arts and science. 

Music therapists work with patients of all ages for help in everything from reducing asthma episodes to lessening the effects of dimentia. The healing power of sound was even used to help Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords regain her ability to speak after she was shot in the head at a political event in Tuscon, Ariz.


Thursday, Tom Williams’ guest for the hour is journalist, author and public radio broadcaster David Baron. Baron is an avid umbraphile who has witnessed five total solar eclipses; he has crossed the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia to catch the shadow of the moon. On August 21, Baron will be in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to witness the first total solar eclipse to cross the country from coast to coast in 99 years. We talked about the history and science of eclipses and share some tips for the best way to experience the upcoming eclipse.


A new study by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, co-authors of four New York Times bestsellers on interpersonal communication and influencing human behavior, reveals that more and more of us are losing connection with our lives in order to earn “likes” and social media praise. We have, in a sense, turned into social media “trophy hunters.”


In her memoir, "Memory's Last Breath: Field Notes on My Dementia,” Gerda Saunders writes: “When I was diagnosed with early- onset dementia just before my sixty- first birthday in 2010, I kept my hurt, anger, fear, and doubts under wraps. I had no choice. I had a job, a husband, children, grandchildren, friends. I had a life. However, there is nothing like a death sentence—  in my case, the premature death of my  mind—  to provoke questions about life. What, actually, is memory, personality, identity? What is a self?

Grunt tackles the science behind some of a soldier's most challenging adversaries—panic, exhaustion, heat, ​flies, ​noise—and introduces us to the scientists who seek to conquer them. ​Roach ​​visits a repurposed movie studio where amputee actors help prepare Marine Corps medics for the shock and gore of combat wounds. At Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, in east Africa, ​she discovers that diarrhea can be a threat to national security. Back in the US, fashion design​ers at U.S. Army Natick Labs​ explain why a zipper is a problem for a sniper.

Salt Lake Tribune reporter Christopher Smart reports that “News is spreading across the country on the state of homelessness in downtown Salt Lake City — and it isn't pretty.

Just over the Fourth of July holiday, a professional baseball player was attacked and suffered a concussion. And a car plowed into a group of homeless people on a sidewalk, killing one and sending five others to the hospital.

Today’s program is by request. Aleq in Southern Utah emailed us to ask for more science on Access Utah and to suggest that we talk about the great work being done in Utah in paleontology.

Our guests today include State Paleontologist Jim Kirkland; and Andrew Milner and Jerald Harris, authors of “Tracks in Deep Time: The St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm.”

To call these unsettling times is an understatement: our political leaders are less and less respectable; in the realm of business, cheating, lying, and stealing are hazily defined; and in daily life, rapidly changing technology offers permission to act in ways inconceivable without it. Yet somehow, this hasn’t quite led to a complete free-for-all—people still draw lines around what is acceptable and what is not.

UPR listeners are avid readers, so our periodic question to you isn’t if you’re reading, but what are you reading? We hope you’ll share your booklist with us and we’ll compile a UPR list and post it on  You can share your booklist by email to or on Twitter @upraccess. We’re also asking if you have any suggestions for beach or camping or summertime reading. And what do your children read during the summertime?

With wildfires raging in Utah and other areas, we’ll turn to writer Gary Ferguson for a timely discussion about wildfires on Monday’s Access Utah. Wildfire season is burning longer and hotter, affecting more and more people, especially in the west.

In The Evolution of Beauty, Richard O. Prum’s award-winning career as an ornithologist and his lifelong passion for bird-watching come together in a thrilling intellectual adventure. Scientific dogma holds that every detail of an animal’s mating displays—every spot on the peacock’s tail—is an advertisement of its genetic material superiority to potential mates. But thirty years of research and fieldwork around the world led Prum to question this idea.

Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate have delayed a vote on their Obamacare repeal bill (the Better Care Reconciliation Act) until after the 4th of the July recess.

We’re going to talk about the U.S. health care system on Wednesday’s Access Utah. What do you think health care in the U.S. should look like?

Are you in favor of keeping the Affordable Care Act? Would you like to see the American Health Care Act, which passed the U.S. House, or the Senate bill, take its place?

Should the health care system be more market-based? What should government’s role be?

The 2017 Bennion Teacher Workshop and Literature of Protest: Civil Rights, Democracy, Social Justice is ongoing at USU. Sponsored by: The Mountain West Center for Regional Studies Utah State University.

Across Utah, nearly 70 mentally ill men and women who are supposed to be receiving mental health treatment are instead trapped in jail cells. They're getting sicker. They're being released without treatment. They're dying.

They're not supposed to be there.

Charges with crimes but too sick to answer for them in court, they are stuck, waiting for an opening at the only facility in the state that can prepare them to face the legal system - the Utah State Hospital in Provo. The


Craig Jessop, Dean of Utah State University’s Caine College of the Arts, Director of the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra, and former Music Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, has led an interesting life in the arts. He’ll join us today to talk about USU’s Year of the Arts which begins this month.


BYU English Professor, Chris Crowe, is an award-winning author of books for young adults about the Civil Rights era. He recently gave a couple of talks on the USU campus in Logan as a part of the USU Department of English Speaker series. Crowe is the author of several books, most notably MISSISSIPPI TRIAL, 1955, which won several awards, including the 2003 International Reading Association's Young Adult Novel Award. His nonfiction book, GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER: THE TRUE STORY OF THE EMMETT TILL CASE, was an Jane Addams Honor book.

Utah State University

Cory Christiansen is a recording artist, writer, educator and performer. He has played and taught around the globe for the last decade alongside the likes of Dr. Lonnie Smith, Vic Juris, Danny Gottlieb, Jeff Coffin, James Moody, Steve Houghton, Jeremy Allen and other jazz greats. His last recording, "Lone Prairie" received critical acclaim for its blending of jazz, rock, blues and music of the American Frontier. 

Utah Department of Transportation


It’s Summertime! The kids are out of school and life slows down for some of us and speeds up for others. Trips to favorite vacation spots and into the backcountry ramp up. Today on Access Utah, we came together as a UPR community to share ideas for summertime trips, activities, traditions and stories.


The Salt Lake Tribune


Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has released his interim report on Bears Ears National Monument.

His recommendations include reducing the size of the monument and seeking congressional approval authorizing tribal co-management of the monument and designation of areas that fall outside the revised monument as national conservation or recreation areas. Sec. Zinke has extended the public comment period to July 10.

Having lost eight friends in ten years, Cooley retreats to a tiny medieval village in Italy with her husband. There, in a rural paradise where bumblebees nest in the ancient cemetery and stray cats curl up on her bed, she examines a question both easily evaded and unavoidable: mortality. How do we grieve? How do we go on drinking our morning coffee, loving our life partners, stumbling through a world of such confusing, exquisite beauty?

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement was met with mixed reactions across the country and especially in Utah. While some climate scientists and government leaders including Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski called the decision a mistake, others argued the decision could have positive economic consequences for the United States.