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

Temple Grandin didn’t talk until she was three and a half years old, communicating her frustration instead by screaming, peeping, and humming. In 1950, she was diagnosed with autism and her parents were told she should be institutionalized. Instead, she went on to become professor of animal science at Colorado State University and a world leader in designing humane facilities for livestock. She is a prominent author and activist in the autism field, and her life is the subject of a 2010 HBO movie.

Chalmers Butterfield

The murder/suicide involving a prominent Cache Valley couple has shocked the community and highlighted issues of suicide, depression, mental illness, and other issues among the elderly. We’re going to talk about these issues on Access Utah today. Tom Williams is joined by Pat Sadoski, with Cache Valley Senior Consulting; and Amy Anderson, with the Sunshine Terrace Foundation. We’ll also hear some recorded comments from commentator Thad Box.

In his early 20s, Benjamin Franklin embarked on a “bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection,” intending to master a list of thirteen virtues. He soon gave up on perfection but continued to believe that these attributes, along with a generous heart and a bemused acceptance of human frailty, laid the foundation for both a good life and a workable society.

Alex Santiago

  UPR is presenting quarterly folk music programs, featuring musicians from around Utah. We hope you joined us for the most recent program Saturday evening. We’ll continue the conversation and music with four musicians: Hal Cannon and Greg Istock from 3hattrio, Cory Castillo, and Todd Wilkinson.

In "Frank: The Voice" (2010), James Kaplan told the story of Frank Sinatra's meteoric rise to fame, subsequent failures, and reinvention as a star of live performance and screen. Frank Sinatra was the best-known entertainer of the twentieth century-infinitely charismatic, lionized and notorious in equal measure. Kaplan examined the complex psyche and turbulent life behind that incomparable voice, from Sinatra's humble beginning in Hoboken to his fall from grace and Oscar-winning return in From Here to Eternity. 


This campaign season has been extraordinary, and the show is coming to Utah, with caucuses on Tuesday and a Republican presidential debate that was scheduled for Salt Lake City and is now canceled.

We’ll talk about it on Thursday’s Access Utah. Our guests include Deseret News political columnists Lavarr Webb and Frank Pignanelli. We’ll also talk with Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon, and Jonathan Choate, who is getting the word out about the Republican caucuses.

University of Georgia Press

How did early American writers think about the spaces around them? Today on Access Utah we’re talking about regions—imagined politically, economically, racially, and figuratively—and the roles these regions played in the formation of American communities, both real and imagined. 

In 1937, a schoolteacher on the island of Maui challenged a group of poverty-stricken sugar plantation kids to swim upstream against the current of their circumstance. The goal? To become Olympians.

Pulitzer prize winning New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg joins Tom Williams for Access Utah. Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit” explored the science of habit formation in our lives, companies, and society. His new book “Smarter Faster Better” explores the science of productivity. Duhigg says that in today’s world, it’s more important to manage how you think, rather than what you think. This episode of Access Utah is a part of the Pulitzer Prize Centennial Campfires Initiative in partnership with Utah Humanities, the Salt Lake Tribune, and KCPW.

From the extra pounds and unrelenting bullies that left her eating lunch alone in a bathroom stall at school to the low self-esteem that left her both physically and emotionally vulnerable to abuse, Jasmin Singer’s struggle with weight defined her life.

Singer says that most people think there’s no such thing as a fat vegan, but most people don’t realize that deep-fried tofu tastes amazing and that Oreos are, in fact, vegan. So, even after she embraced a vegan lifestyle, having discovered her passion in advocating for the rights of animals, she defied any “skinny vegan” stereotypes by getting even heavier.

Some people love it, some people hate it. Like it or not, on Sunday, daylight saving time (DST) begins in Utah. Tuesday on Access Utah we’re going to revisit an episode from December 2014.

Benjamin Franklin conceived of it. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle endorsed it. Winston Churchill campaigned for it. Kaiser Wilhelm first employed it. Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt went to war with it, and the United States fought an energy crisis with it. 

(AP Photo/Trent Nelson)

Should Utah abolish the death penalty? Sen. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George, says yes. His SB 189 has passed the Utah Senate and now goes to the House as we head into the last week of the 2016 Utah Legislature. Gov. Gary Herbert is among those maintaining support for the death penalty.

We’ll talk about it on Monday’s Access Utah.

Our guests will include Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan; Rep. Stephen Handy, R-Layton; and Salt Lake City attorneys David and Steve Shapiro, whose parents were murdered and who oppose the death penalty.

University of Colorado Press

 In essays that combine memoir with biography of place, Kevin Holdsworth creates a public history of the land he calls home: Good Water, Utah. The high desert of south-central Utah is at the heart of the stories he tells - about the people, the “survivors and casualties” of the small, remote town - and is at the heart of his own story.

The Crown Publishing Group


On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives. For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the grief and shame of that day. 

How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

“It’s a sight Utahns are all too familiar with -- gray, smoggy air filled with dangerous particulate matter. Officials say sensitive groups like children and the elderly should be especially cautious during times of inversion. During red air days the air is unhealthy for everyone. We know this. So why do we continue driving to work? Why do we idle our cars, contributing to the problem?”

In his new collection of essays “Sublime Physick,” Patrick Madden seeks what is common and ennobling among seemingly disparate, even divisive, subjects, ruminating on midlife, time, family, forgiveness, loss, originality, a Canadian rock band, and more, discerning the ways in which the natural world transcends and joins the realm of ideas (sublime) through the application of a meditative mind.


Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, D-Holladay, is sponsoring HB221, which would preserve parents' rights to exempt their children from immunizations but would require those parents to watch an educational video to receive the exemption.

Great Old Broads for Wilderness began in 1989 on the 25th anniversary of the Wilderness Act by a feisty bunch of lady hikers who wanted to refute Utah Senator Orrin Hatch’s notion that wilderness is inaccessible to elders. About that time, wilderness designation had been proposed for Escalante, and Senator Hatch opposed it, saying, “if for no other reason, we need roads for the aged and infirm.”

This episode originally aired in July, 2015.

“The True American” tells the story of Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladesh Air Force officer who dreams of immigrating to America and working in technology. 

But days after 9/11, an avowed "American terrorist" named Mark Stroman, seeking revenge, walks into the Dallas minimart where Bhuiyan has found temporary work and shoots him, maiming and nearly killing him. Two other victims, at other gas stations, aren’t so lucky, dying at once.  “The True American” traces the making of these two men, Stroman and Bhuiyan, and of their fateful encounter.

Nancy Gonlin, Professor of Anthropology at Bellevue College says that “Without electrical lighting to guide the way, our ancestors in the ancient world experienced night very differently than we do today...As light pollution continues to dissipate the darkness for us modern humans—changing, for example, our perception of the stars—the urgency to document the history of human experience from dusk till dawn has never been greater.”

West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo says that for a long time, police officers went to the scene of domestic violence calls and treated them in a "mechanical way." They would ask for the facts — the who, what, and where — and then move on. But, Russo says, that  type of investigation wasn't doing much to help the victims and the officers oftentimes failed to recognize that behind a physically abused victim, there was a psychologically abused person, as well. In January, his officers began using the Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP) program to help connect domestic violence victims to resources that can help them.

University of Nebraska Press

Journalist Judy Muller says that at a time when mainstream news media are hemorrhaging and doomsayers are predicting the death of journalism, we can take heart: the First Amendment is alive and well in small towns across America. 

In her book (from 2011) Emus Loose in Egnar: Big Stories from Small Towns , Muller takes us on a grassroots tour of rural American newspapers, from an Indian reservation in Montana to the Alaskan tundra to Martha’s Vineyard, (and to Moab and Monticello in Utah) and discovers that many weeklies are not just surviving, but thriving.

By the late 1800s, Native American culture was under attack from a variety of sectors.  As westward expansion continued, the U.S. government adopted a policy to the eradicate culture, language and spirituality of America’s indigenous people by taking children from their families, isolating them, and forcing them to deny their heritage. The policy of assimilation transported the children to boarding schools for cultural transformation.  Everything Native was to be stripped away. The goal was integration into Anglo society.  Their language, as their culture, was to be “unspoken.”



John Palfrey, founding president of the Digital Public Library of America and a director of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, recently told the Deseret News that he has “been struck by the number of times people tell [him] that they think libraries are less important than they were before, now that we have the Internet and Google. He says he thinks “just the opposite: Libraries are more important, not less important, and both as physical and virtual entities, than they’ve been in the past.” John Palfrey, author of the new book  "BiblioTECH: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google," joins Tom Williams to discuss the future of the library on Thursday’s Access Utah.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “in what they characterized as a sweeping gesture of compromise, Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz unveiled their plan to resolve decades of deadlock over how eastern Utah's public lands are managed even as environmental and tribal groups declared the proposal "dead on arrival" and a shameless giveaway to oil and gas interests.” The bill “would set aside special landscapes like Cedar Mesa, San Rafael Swell and Labyrinth Canyon, while expediting mineral development in areas deemed less worthy of protection.”