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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The University of North Carolina Press

In the mid-1840s, Warner McCary, an ex-slave from Mississippi, claimed a new identity for himself, traveling around the nation as Choctaw performer "Okah Tubbee". He soon married Lucy Stanton, a divorced white Mormon woman from New York, who likewise claimed to be an Indian and used the name "Laah Ceil". Together, they embarked on an astounding, sometimes scandalous journey across the United States and Canada, performing as American Indians

  Jessica Lahey’s The Gift of Failure focuses on the critical school years when parents must learn to allow their children to experience the disappointment and frustration that occur from life’s inevitable problems so that they can grow up to be successful, resilient, and self-reliant adults.



Today we speak with Jessica Luther, author of "Unsportsmanlike Conduct." Jessica Luther is and independent writer and investigative journalist living in Austin, Texas. Her work on sports and culture has appeared in the Texas Observer and the Austin Chronicle, and at Sport Illustrated, Texas Monthly, Vice Sports, Guardian Sport, and Bleacher Report.

Today we discuss the results of the 2016 Presidential Election. Our listeners call in and share their post election feelings. We are also joined in studio by Dr. Damon Cann and Dr. Michael Lyons, Associate Professors from the Utah State University Political Science Department. To join in this conversation, you can still email us at 


In 2015 the number of visitors to Yellowstone exceeded four million for the first time. David Quammen, writing in the May 2016 edition of National Geographic magazine, asks "Can we hope to preserve, in the midst of modern America, any such remnant of our continent's primordial landscape, any such sample of true wildness-a gloriously inhospitable place, full of predators and prey, in which nature is still allowed to be red in tooth and claw? Can that sort of place be reconciled with human demands and human convenience?

Today on Access Utah we discuss the companion volume to the international bestseller Letters of Note. It’s an assortment of correspondence that spans centuries and place--and an array of human emotions--written by the famous, the not-so-famous, and the downright infamous.

Cache County voters are deciding the following question: Should a Cache Water District be created? We’ll talk about it next time on Access Utah. Logan Herald Journal reporter Clayton Gefre will give us some historical context. Then Dave Rayfield, Board Member with Bear River Land Conservancy, will tell us why he thinks voters should vote “yes” and Zach Frankel, Executive Director of Utah Rivers Council, will tell us why he thinks voters should vote “no.” Whether you’re a Cache County voter or not, water issues are front-and-center in our minds all over Utah.


   What’s in a name? Today we’ll explore that question. We’re asking you: What do you think of your name? What was your thought process in naming your children? Are there names that are passed down in your family? Have you ever wanted to change your name? Did you? What’s the most unusual or distinctive name you’ve encountered? How does your name affect you? How do you think your name is perceived?

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.

What do you do when God dies?

It's a question facing millions today, as science reveals a Universe that's self-creating, as American culture departs from Christian social norms, and the idea of God begins to seem implausible at best and barbaric at worst.




University of Utah Press

 We’re approaching the 100th  anniversary of the U.S. entrance into WWI. Today on Access Utah, we’ll discuss the Great War and how affected Utahns. We’ll speak with Allan Kent Powell, Editor of “Utah and the Great War: The Beehive State and the World War I Experience.” We’ll also speak with E.B. Wheeler and Jeffery Bateman who recently wrote a fiction book called "No Peace with the Dawn: A Novel of the Great War."

Language is always changing -- and we tend not to like it. We understand that new words must be created for new things, but the way English is spoken today rubs many of us the wrong way. Whether it’s the use of literally to mean “figuratively” rather than “by the letter,” or the way young people use LOL and like, or business jargon like What’s the ask? -- it often seems as if the language is deteriorating before our eyes.




Evan McMullin, Independent candidate for president, is possibly on the cusp of doing something no “third-party” candidate has done in decades: win a state. We’re talking about Utah, where McMullin is neck-in-neck with Donald Trump in the latest polls, even leading in one or two.

  Folklorist Jens Lund recently gave the 2016 Fife Honor Lecture at USU, presented by the  USU Folklore Program and USU Department of English. His lecture was titled “‘I Done What I Could’: Occupational Folk Poetry in the Pacific Northwest.” The Fife Honor Lecture is an honorary lecture given every year in honor of Austin and Alta Fife, folklorists, documentarians, and founders of the Fife Folklore archives.

We continue our occasional series, Our Favorite Books, with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s enduringly popular creation Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes is thriving on television and continues to occupy an important place in popular culture. The famous fictional detective even figures prominently in the debate over evolution vs. intelligent design. We’ll look at how the character has changed over the years (and how our response to him has changed) and we’ll ask what Sherlock Holmes means in our culture today.


The New York Times bestseller “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has, perhaps, never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

Our guest for the hour today is Matthew Garrett, author of “Making Lamanites: Mormons, Native Americans, and the Indian Student Placement Program, 1947-2000” (University of Utah Press).

From 1947 to 2000, some 50,000 Native American children left the reservations to live with Mormon foster families. While some dropped out of the Indian Student Placement Program (ISPP), for others the months spent living with LDS families often proved more penetrating than expected.

George Hirthler’s new historical novel, “The Idealist,” is the inspiring and tragic story of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the French visionary who founded the modern Olympic Games. When the novel opens in early 1937, Coubertin is 74, he's broke, his health is failing, and although he has created one of the most influential international movements of the 20th century, he is completely unknown outside a small circle of admirers, whose financial help he has repeatedly declined.

This extraordinary campaign season got more so over the weekend. What is your reaction to Donald Trump’s comments from 2005? And Utah Republican’s and some national Republican’s repudiation of their presidential nominee?  What did you think of the debate? What is on the top of your mind as you get ready to vote? Cache County Libertarian Party Chair, Jonathan Choate of SD7 Technologies in Logan joins us for the hour.

Former Utah State University football player Torrey Green is charged with four counts of rape. Videos of behind-closed-doors meetings of Mormon officials surface on the internet the last day of General Conference. Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott meets

    Former Utah State University football player Torrey Green is charged with four counts of rape. Videos of behind-closed-doors meetings of Mormon officials surface on the internet the last day of General Conference. Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott meets with the County Council to address an audit of his office. And "Operation Diversion" continues to address the drug problem among Salt Lake's homeless population.

 When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem, he sparked a vigorous national conversation about Race, Police, Patriotism, Free Speech and other issues. We’re going to continue that conversation next time on Access Utah. We’ll be talking with Forrest Crawford, Professor of Teacher Education and former Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity at Weber State University; and Jason Gilmore, Assistant Professor of Global Communication at Utah State University.

  On April 20, 2010, a blast aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil platform killed 11 workers, critically injured others and caused a leak that spilled thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for more than three months. The Deepwater Horizon, one of worst environmental disasters in history, is now the subject of a pulse-pounding new movie. Historian and archaeologist, USU Professor of Environment and Society, Joseph Tainter will watch the film with special interest.

Charles Bock's daughter was 5 months old when his wife was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. His wife died two and a half years later, just before their daughter's third birthday. Charles Bock has written a new novel that's based on that experience. It’s titled "Alice & Oliver."


The award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Children has created an unflinching yet deeply humane portrait of a young family’s journey through a medical crisis, laying bare a couple’s love and fears as they fight for everything that’s important to them.