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

zeitzeichen.net

Should Spanking Children Be Forbidden in the U.S.? Renowned criminologist Christian Pfeiffer from University of Hannover, Germany will present the European experience on Thursday, as a part of the USU Provost's Series on Instructional Excellence, and will join us for Thursday's AU.

Dr. Pfeiffer's research interests include the role of religion and child rearing practices in the production of violence; the role of media in the lives of children and in the perception of crime and criminal policy; media consumption and violence; the implications of corporal punishment in politics; and extrajudicial dispute resolution. 


In her song "Flawless," the singer Beyonce samples Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: "We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are." On Wednesday's AU we'll ask: Can the message of female empowerment co-exist with a sexualized image? Do advertising messages of companies like Carl's Jr. and Sports Illustrated promote the objectification of women? If so, how should those messages be corrected? How should we frame the topic of sex in the media, in the classroom, in the family, in society? 

Carvel Books

Ben Jones, is a single, 38-year-old truck driver on the verge of losing his small trucking company. Ben's route takes him back and forth across one of the most desolate and beautiful regions of the Utah desert where he meets a mysterious cellist and the embittered owner of a small diner. That's the plot, in brief, of James Anderson's debut novel, "The Never-Open Desert Diner." 


In 2014 the citizens of Idaho and Montana celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act – the law that secured protection for eight million acres of wild forests and mountains in these two states. In his new book (from University of Utah Press) “Where Roads Will Never Reach” environmental historian Frederick Swanson tells the story of how, decades before the Wilderness Act, ordinary citizens halted the federal government’s resource development juggernaut of the 1950s and 1960s, safeguarding some of the last strongholds of grizzly bear, mountain goat, elk, trout, salmon and steelhead. Swanson says that from Idaho's Frank Church-River of No Return to Montana's Scapegoat and Great Bear, the wilderness areas of the Northern Rockies serve as a record of lasting public concern and as a model for citizens working to protect today's threatened landscapes.

Frederick Swanson says: “More than fifty years ago my family moved from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest, where I became enthralled with its tall firs, glacier-carved mountains, and transparent rivers. Before long I was exploring the region's wilderness areas like so many of us did in the 1960s and 1970s. After twenty-five years working as an editor and publications designer, eleven of which were spent in the wonderful state of Montana, I decided to write full-time. I've been fortunate to be able to tell the story of some of the greatest wild lands in the western states and the men and women who knew and loved them.

 


theadaptors.org

On Friday's "Access Utah" we feature an episode from the series "BURN: An Energy Journal" hosted by Alex Chadwick and Flora Lichtman. "The Adaptors" looks at people from all walks of life who are working to counteract energy and climate crises. Adaptors are all around us: farmers and coastal-dwellers finding new ways to work and live; scientists thinking outside the box about energy; corporate leaders bringing new technologies to market; DIY inventors dreaming up the next big thing in green living. These stories provide a window into the essence of who we are as a species - and a measure of hope that we can muster the will to tackle perhaps the biggest challenges we've ever faced. 

Listen to "BURN: An Energy Journal" from "The Adaptors" at www.theadaptors.org

Family Acceptance Project

What happens to a Mormon family in California when their teenage son tells them he's gay? How does the family navigate questions of faith and acceptance? The film "Families Are Forever" produced by the Family Acceptance Project and screened recently at Utah State University, tells the story of Tom and Wendy Montgomery and their five children, focusing on their son, Jordan. Participating in USU's Research Week, Wendy Montgomery joined Dr. Caitlin Ryan of San Francisco State University to discuss the Family Acceptance Project - a research, intervention, education and policy project founded by Dr. Ryan to help diverse families support their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children. The Family Acceptance Project seeks to prevent health risks like suicide and homelessness and to promote well-being in the context of families, cultures and faith communities. 

    

W. W. Norton & Co.

In 2005, David Roberts and two of his mountaineering friends caught sight of what appeared to be a granary beneath an overhanging cliff a thousand feet above a Utah ranch. After rappelling down the cliff, Roberts and his companions discovered a settlement--and a mystery. This enormous granary was large enough to hold fifty-seven bushels of corn, weighing a ton and a half. Yet Roberts and his friends--some of the most experienced climbers in the world--had enormous difficulty reaching the site. In fact, they were the first people to reach the remote site in more than seven hundred years. How could the ancient natives have managed to lug so much grain up this sheer cliff, especially considering there is no conclusive evidence that they possessed rope technology? For more than 5,000 years the Ancestral Puebloans occupied the Four Corners region. Just before 1300 AD, they abandoned their homeland in a migration that remains one of prehistory's greatest puzzles. Northern and southern neighbors of the Ancestral Puebloans, the Fremont and Mogollon likewise flourished for millennia before migrating or disappearing. Fortunately, the Old Ones, as some of their present-day descendants call them, left behind awe-inspiring ruins, dazzling rock art, and sophisticated artifacts ranging from painted pots to woven baskets. 


wikihow.com

USU Philosophy Professor Charlie Huenemann, writing for 3quarksdaily.com says that "we all seek to capture the world with a net of language. Yet it is in the nature of nets to capture some things and let others slip away, and that goes for languages too...What is left unsaid speaks volumes. We might resign ourselves to this fact - the inescapable limits of what's sayable - but in fact a great many minds have sought to construct the perfect language." 


Graywolf Press

In "Ongoingness: The End of a Diary" Sarah Manguso confronts a meticulous diary that she has kept for twenty-five years. She says she wanted to end each day with a record of everything that had ever happened. But she was terrified that she might forget something, she might miss something important. Maintaining that diary, now 800,000 words, had become, until recently, a kind of spiritual practice. Then Manguso became pregnant and had a child, and these two Copernican events generated an amnesia that put her into a different relationship with the need to document herself amid ongoing time. "Ongoingness" is a spare, meditative work standing in stark contrast to the volubility of the diary. In this collection of essays, Manguso confronts issues of mortality and impermanence, of how we struggle to find clarity in the chaos of time that rushes around and over and through us. 


GEORGE FREY/AFP/Getty Images

The recent excommunications of prominent members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints got us wondering about the practice of excommunication, and related practices like shunning and ostracizing. Does excommunication have different meanings across various religions and cultures? Why are some individuals cut off and others not? How should religious institutions respond to unorthodox opinions and beliefs among their members? 


University Press of Colorado

In 2005, historian James Whiteside bought a Harley Davidson Heritage Softail, christened it "Old Blue," and set off on a series of motorcycle adventures. Over six years he traveled more than 15,000 miles. In his new book "Old Blue's Road" Whiteside recounts his travels to the Pacific Northwest, Yellowstone, Dodge City, Santa Fe, Wounded Knee, and many other places and considers the ongoing struggle between Indian and mainstream American culture, the meaning of community, the sustainability of the West's hydraulic society, the creation of the national parks system, the Mormon experience in Utah, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and more. Whiteside reflects on the processes of change that made the American West what it is today and the complex ways in which the West's past and present come together. 


Our Kitchen Table/LaDonna Redmond

LaDonna Redmond became a food justice advocate after her son developed food allergies and she found that the healthy food she wanted to feed him wasn't available in her Chicago neighborhood. She says that fair and equal access to healthy foods affects the health and well-being of the community and that food justice is tied to social justice, to issues of violence, poverty, and immigration. She advocates for dismantling the "food industrial complex" and returning to the "tables of our ancestors" to make our own food. 


(Cybele Knowles / Graywolf Press)

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. 


Wittenberg.edu

Nancy McHugh, professor of philosophy at Wittenberg University in Ohio, says the fear of bacteria, hormones, and antibiotics is rampant in our society. She is interested in the ways we go about making knowledge and ignorance about food and its relationship to health and argues that these practices have led to a new food movement, "clean eating," which in turn has generated a new eating disorder, orthorexia, or righteous eating.

    


Washington State University

Sociologist and Mormon scholar Armand Mauss says that as a relatively new religious movement, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has followed a developmental trajectory similar to many other such movements. In the next few years, however, as the church enters its third century it is likely to face many new and unprecedented challenges. Mauss will consider how the church and its members might cope with these challenges, including the definition of gender in church life, and navigating issues of faith vs. doubt, in a lecture, “Mormonism’s Third Century: Coping with the Contingencies,” sponsored by USU’s Religious Studies Program this afternoon at 4:00 in Old Main 121 on the Utah State University campus. 


Kara Richardson Whitely knew she could reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. She had done it once before. But she failed in a second attempt, struggled with food addiction and looked for ways to cope with feelings of failure and shame. Her weight shot to more than 300 pounds. Deep in her personal gorge, Whitely decided the only way out was up. She resolved to climb the mountain again-and this time, she would reach the summit. And she would do it without waiting for her plus-sized status to disappear. "Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds" is the story of her ascent from the depths of self-doubt to the top of the world.

    

amazon.com

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 largely 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.

American Radio Works

Today on Access Utah, an American Radio Works documentary explores the best ways to learn, developed and observed by researchers. "The Science of Smart," featuring Utah Senator Howard Stevenson's statewide language immersion initiative, deciphers education and its impact on our next generation's learning. 

Researchers have long been searching for better ways to learn. In recent decades, experts working in cognitive science, psychology, and neuroscience have opened new windows into how the brain works, and how we can learn to learn better. 

USU ARTsySTEM

"The Arts and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) fields share a necessity for undertaking imaginative inquiry of what we perceive as truth and beauty...So many attempts to integrate art and science simply involve creating art at the end of a scientific breakthrough. With ARTsySTEM, we're merging the disciplines at the very inception of the process." That's USU Assistant Professor of Art Mark Lee Koven, who along with USU Ecology Center Director Nancy Huntly, is spearheading the ARTsySTEM project at Utah State University.


rooflines.org

Last July 4 on an outing to Long Island, when shots were fired in the vicinity, ProPublica reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones says that "between the four adults [in the group] we hold six degrees. Three of us are journalists. And not one of us ... thought to call the police. We had not even considered it.  We also are all black. And without realizing it, in that moment, each of us had made a set of calculations, an instantaneous weighing of the pros and cons." In "A Letter From Black America," (recently published by ProPublica and Politico Magazine) Hannah-Jones says "to a very real extent, you have grown up in a different country than I have."


B. Lynn Ingram is Professor of Earth and Planetary Science and Geography at the University of California, Berkeley and co-author of "The West Without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and other Climatic Clues Tell Us About Tomorrow." She'll join us for Tuesday's AU to answer such questions as: What is "normal" climate in the West and how do we know what's normal? What do we learn from megafloods and megadroughts during the past 2,000 years, including most disastrous flood in the history of California and the West, which occurred in 1861-62?  Why is climate so variable in the West? What does the past tell us about tomorrow?


normandoige.com

"The brain can change itself. It is a plastic, living organ that can actually change its own structure and function, even into old age. Arguably the most important breakthrough in neuroscience since scientists first sketched out the brain's basic anatomy, this revolutionary discovery, called neuroplasticity, promises to overthrow the centuries-old notion that the brain is fixed and unchanging." So says psychiatrist and researcher Norman Doidge, MD.
 

In his book "The Brain That Changes Itself" Dr. Doidge examines the cases of a woman born with half a brain that rewired itself to work as a whole, a woman labeled retarded who cured her deficits with brain exercises and now cures those of others, blind people learning to see, learning disorders cured, IQs raised, aging brains rejuvenated, painful phantom limbs erased, stroke patients recovering their faculties, children with cerebral palsy learning to move more gracefully, entrenched depression and anxiety disappearing, and lifelong character traits altered. 


utahstatetrooper.com

The 2015 session of the Utah Legislature reached the end of its constitutionally-mandated 45 days Thursday night. This year’s highlights included debates over Medicaid expansion, prison relocation, pay raises for teachers and state employees, the gas tax, anti-discrimination protections for the LGBT community, religious freedom guarantees, the right to die, Utah’s caucus and convention system, medical marijuana, cock fighting and seat belts, among other issues.

On Friday’s AU we’ll recap the 2015 legislative session with Deseret News commentators Frank Pignanelli & LaVarr Webb. We’ll feature comments from Governor Gary Herbert. And we’ll talk with Jason Stevenson, Education & Communications Director with the Utah Health Policy Project and Dan Bammes, Communications Director with the Utah Foundation.


pewforum.org

HB 391, the “Utah Death with Dignity Act,” would allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill persons, under certain circumstances. Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City says she sponsored the bill in response to the recent plight of Brittany Maynard, a California woman with a terminal brain tumor who moved to Oregon (which has had such a law in place since 1994) so she could die on her own terms. A poll by www.utahpolicy.com shows that 63% of Utahns support such legislation. On Wednesday’s AU we’ll ask you what you think.

 


We love our dogs and cats, but their behavior can be baffling. (Maybe they have the same thoughts 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. 


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