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

Kite, beauty redefined, carl's jr
Lexie Kite / Beauty Redefined

Two Utah sisters are pushing back against a Carl’s Jr. advertising campaign they say objectifies women. The ads feature bikini-clad women eating the fast-food chain’s burgers in a seductive manner. Lindsay and Lexie Kite hold doctorate degrees from the University of Utah and run a nonprofit called Beauty Redefined, focusing on issues surrounding women’s body image and media influence. Their social media campaign uses the hashtags: “#CutTheCarls” and “#MoreThanMeat” They are asking consumers to boycott Carl’s Jr. in order to involve the company in conversation about sexual objectification in advertising. Carl’s Jr. has said the ads, which began in 2005, are aimed at catching the attention of young, hungry boys (ages 18 - 35). The company said it respects the contribution of women to society.

broadwayworld.com

Legendary lyricist Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof, She Loves Me, Fiorello!) visited Logan for events with the Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theater during their 2013 season. While he was in town, he sat down with Tom Williams for an Access Utah conversation.

We’ll revisit that program.

islandpress.org

On Monday’s AU we revisit a conversation from April: In our increasingly polarized society, there are constant calls for compromise, for coming together. For many, these are empty talking points—for Lucy Moore, they are a life's work. As an environmental mediator, she has spent the past quarter century resolving conflicts that appeared utterly intractable.

In her book “Common Ground on Hostile Turf” she shares the most compelling stories of her career, offering insight and inspiration to anyone caught in a seemingly hopeless dispute. Moore has worked on a variety of  issues—from radioactive waste storage to loss of traditional grazing lands. More importantly, she has worked with diverse groups and individuals: ranchers, environmental activists, government agencies, corporations, tribal groups, and many more.

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discovermoab.com

On September 12, 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation creating Canyonlands National Park: “...in order to preserve an area...possessing superlative scenic, scientific, and archeologic features for the inspiration, benefit and use of the public…”

There will be events of celebration and reflection next week in Moab as part of a year-long recognition of the anniversary. . And a new film “Our Canyon Lands” looks at some issues going forward: “...one of the last vast wild places in the lower 48 sits teetering on a precipice of  industrial development.

Geek sublime, culture, writing
Vikram Chandra

Vikram Chandra says that even though “computing has transformed our lives...the processes and cultures which produce software remain largely opaque, alien, unknown. He says “whenever I tell one of my fellow authors that I supported myself through the writing of my first novel by working as a programmer and a computer consultant, I evoke a response that mixes bemusement, bafflement, and a touch of awe, as if I’d just said that I could levitate...Many programmers, on the other hand regard themselves as artists.”

Are you interested in learning your genealogy and researching your family's history? Have you already traced your lineage back hundreds of years? Or are you just beginning?

Because the LDS church and Ancestry.com share their record libraries with the public and each other, Utah is a mecca for people interested in family history. Genealogy has become the second most popular hobby in the United States. We’re going to hear some family history journeys on Monday’s AU, including a cowboy who found out he’s an Indian; a grandson who’s discovering his Japanese heritage while sorting through his grandfather’s belongings following his recent passing; and a great granddaughter who has come to admire the courage, resilience, and strength of the women in her family which immigrated from Yugoslavia to work in the Tintic Mining District.

National Geographic

If the trends of population growth and richer diets continue, experts say that by 2050 we will need to double the amount of crops we grow. Jonathan Foley, author of “Food: Feeding Nine Billion,” the first of an eight-month series on food, in the May edition of National Geographic, is director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. He lead a team of scientists who confronted a simple question: How can the world double the availability of food while simultaneously cutting the environmental harm caused by agriculture? Foley’s team proposed five steps that he says could solve the world’s food dilemma. We’ll revisit our conversation on Monday’s AU.

Listen to this episode here.

usu.edu

Go back a few generations and odds are that your family lived and worked on a farm. On Thursday’s AU we’ll revisit a program from April, and go back to our roots with USU professors Joyce Kinkead, Evelyn Funda, and Lynne McNeill, authors of “Farm: A Multi-Modal Reader,” which explores what farms, farming, and farmers mean to us as a culture. “Farm” moves from the Jeffersonian idealism of the yeoman farmer (“Cultivators of the earth are the chosen people of God”) to literature of the 19th and 20th centuries (Thoreau’s bean field, Cather’s prairie novel, Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, as well as very contemporary memoirs like Farm City) to current issues such as agribusiness and chemical farming.

Listen to the program here.

Eboo Patel founded the Interfaith Youth Core to counter the growing problem of religious intolerance and violence at home and abroad. IFYC trains students to bridge the faith-divide through interfaith cooperation. Patel says that “interfaith interactions can be a bomb of destruction, a barrier of division, a bubble of isolation, or a bridge of cooperation.” He says that he’s inspired to build a bridge of cooperation by his faith as a Muslim, his Indian heritage, and his American citizenship.

Why do we fear vaccines? Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear—fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child’s air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She concludes that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world. In her new book “On Immunity: An Inoculation,” Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. She asks what are we more afraid of: the needle, the disease, our scientists and doctors, or each other? As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” Susan Sontag’s “AIDS and Its Metaphors,” the philosophy of Kierkegaard, and beyond. “On Immunity” shows how we are all interconnected—our bodies and our fates.

Off the grid, living without dependence
Nick Rosen

The grid is everywhere, sending power to the light switch on the wall and water to the faucet in the kitchen. But is it essential? Must we depend on it and the corporate and government infrastructure behind it? My guest on Monday’s AU is Nick Rosen, who has traveled the United States, spending time with all kinds of individuals and families striving to live their lives free from dependence on municipal power and amenities, and free from dependence on the government and its far-reaching tentacles.

Frankenstein Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley

Frankenstein brings to mind Boris Karloff’s character in the 1931 film, or monster masks worn for Halloween. The book, however, surprises those who think they know the story. It’s a thought-provoking tale examining education, knowledge, and society.  Goodreads says “Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation, genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.”

Robin Williams, Hope, Suicide book cover
Utah Public Radio

Robin Williams’ apparent suicide has us not only remembering his life and talent but trying to come to terms with the reality of suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, "Suicide claims more than 38,000 lives each year in the United States alone, with someone dying by suicide every 13.7 minutes. A suicide attempt is made every minute of every day, resulting in nearly one million attempts made annually." Utah author and suicide prevention advocate Wendy Parmley knows this reality all too well. Her new book “Hope after Suicide: One Woman's Journey from Darkness to Light,” details her journey following the suicide death of her mother nearly 40 years ago. She was 12-years-old at the time, the oldest of five children, and her mother was just 31. For years, Ms. Parmley locked away the pain of her mother's death. But after a disabling bike accident in September 2011 that left her unable to return to her nursing career, she began to write her mother's story--and her own healing journey began.

She says, “I know too well the feelings of loss, helplessness, and hopelessness that follow the suicide death of a loved one and I mourn for Williams' family, for his wife, and for his children who must continue to live in the aftermath of his unexpected death. Suicide's effects are devastating, its impact vast... [But] I know there can be hope after suicide. There is light beyond the darkness. I'm confident [I] can help those who have survived suicide loss understand they are not alone. My purpose with 'Hope After Suicide' is to reach out to others who have experienced the tragic loss of loved ones to suicide, to those who are contemplating suicide, and to those who are still silent, not knowing what to say."

The legendary conflict between sheepherder Frank Clark and Old Ephraim the giant bear is one of the most widely-told stories in the Logan area. Old Ephraim was a very large grizzly who roamed the Cache National Forest from about 1911 until his death on August 22, 1923. Old Ephraim stories are still told. We’re going to talk about local legends on Monday’s AU.

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.

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