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

Two Utah Valley University professors who describe themselves as similar to hosts Click and Clack from NPR’s "Car Talk," set out to repeatedly bike the Great Western Trail, observing and writing about its variations with every season. The accounts of their adventures, however, refuse to be limited to flora and fauna. 

A couple of years ago we took a fascinating look at zombies with Kyle Bishop, author of “American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture.” Bishop says that zombie movies reflect our cultural anxieties.

Capitol building
April Ashland / Utah Public Radio

The 2014 Utah legislature closes Thursday night. Medicaid expansion, air quality, education, the budget...these are just some of the topics we’ll talk about on Friday’s AU.

Our guests include Governor Gary Herbert, House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart, Senate Minority Leader Gene Davis, and House Minority Assistant Whip Rebecca Chavez-Houck. We want to know what you think as well. What happened to the bills you were following? Are you pleased with the legislature’s work or disappointed? Here’s your chance to talk to state leaders about the important issues of the day.

Seemingly from its birth, Pakistan has teetered on the brink of becoming a failed state. Today, it ranks near the bottom of the list in global competitiveness. Its economy is as dysfunctional as its political system is corrupt and Taliban forces occupy 30 percent of the country. It possesses more than one hundred nuclear weapons that could easily fall into terrorists' hands. Why, in an era when countries across the developing world are experiencing impressive economic growth and building democratic institutions, has Pakistan been such a conspicuous failure?

In his new book “The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World,” international relations scholar T.V. Paul argues that the "geostrategic curse"--akin to the "resource curse" that plagues oil-rich autocracies--is at the root of Pakistan's unique inability to progress.

living wage calculator
April Ashland / Utah Public Radio

Rep. Lynn Hemingway’s (D- Salt Lake City) “Living Wage” bill (HB 73) would raise the minimum wage in Utah from $7.25/hour to $10.25/hour. According the Poverty in America Living Wage Calculator, a living wage for a Utah family with two adults and two children is $18.54/hour. That same family would need to earn $10.60/hour to hit the poverty line. President Obama is pushing for a higher federal minimum wage, saying that "nobody who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty."

Medvetz hiking
National Geographic

Tim Medvetz is a former member of the Hells Angels and host of the National Geographic Wild series “Going Wild.” After a horrible motorcycle accident and still not fully recovered from his extensive injuries (he was not expected to walk again) he decided to fly to Nepal, live with Sherpas, and summit Mt. Everest. He eventually created The Heroes Project, with the mission of taking veterans who suffered catastrophic injuries on climbs to the world’s seven tallest summits. Medvetz’ goal for these climbs is to mirror the mental, physical and emotional challenges it takes to overcome losing limbs in battle.

Should Utah take federal money and expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act? Governor Herbert is pushing for expansion using $258 million in federal dollars.

Wednesday on AU 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? 

A while back, UPR listener Derek Butcher emailed us saying that he’s pleased that “UPR has devoted a fair amount of airtime to discussions of Utah's air quality...which is great because it's an important issue that affects all of us."

On Monday’s Access Utah we’ll not only talk about key writers of the Beat Generation--such as Allen Ginsburg, Philip Whalen, and Kenneth Rexroth, but we’ll hear their voices as well. John Suiter, author of “Poets on the Peaks,” a book about Beat poets and their experiences as fire lookouts in the Northwest during the 1950s, discovered some historic photographs and audio tapes during his research.

Living in the second-driest state in the U.S. most of us are closely attuned to water issues, especially as we face changes to our climate. Three experts at USU recently chose water as the topic of their TEDxUSU talks.

What’s the best way to involve people in the political process? Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney is in favor of the Count My Vote initiative, which would mandate a change to direct primaries to determine party nominees. He says that the current caucus and convention system excludes many people and rarely reflects how rank-and-file party members feel.

It’s a tradition that every year about this time “Evening in Brazil” presents a concert or two in northern Utah. And each year, we gather group members in UPR’s studio C to enjoy some great Bossa Nova and Samba on Access Utah. Linda Ferreira Linford, Christopher Neale, Eric Nelson and Mike Christiansen will join us with their music on Tuesday. We hope you will too, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

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?

After two years of marriage, a gnawing feeling leads Belinda "Pecan" Morrow to suspect that getting married before the conclusion of her senior year in high school and after her father's sudden death--was a huge mistake. She packs up her few belongings and her baby girl and attempts to leave her husband, Ricky Morrow, an up-and-coming boxing sensation from Mississippi.

Moab is debating whether city tap water should be used for oil and gas drilling. Jon Kovash recently reported on this issue for UPR: “Moab has seen a drilling boom in the last two years, and many more wells are planned.

Author Ed Kociela has a knack for taking his readers behind closed doors and now walks you backstage to hang out with some of the biggest stars in rock 'n' roll history in "It Rocked! (Recollections of a reclusive rock critic).

National Geographic

Monday on Access Utah we feature an encore presentation of a program first aired in July 2013:

Rich Cohen writes in National Geographic magazine's August 2013 cover story titled “Sugar Love (a not so sweet story)” that sugar was the oil of its day. The more you tasted, the more you wanted. In 1700 the average Englishman consumed 4 pounds a year.

Scott Hammond and his golden retriever, Dusty, are volunteer search and rescue workers with Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs. In his new book, “Lessons of the Lost: Finding Hope and Resilience in Work, Life, and the Wilderness,” Hammond says that wilderness can be unforgiving and dangerous, yet fill our souls with awe and wonder and that the wilderness is a classroom where we learn to survive, thrive and sometimes die. 

The Washington Post

Tamar Haspel, writing for the Washington Post, vividly describes the debate over Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs,) “It’s not just genetic modification. We’re arguing about organics, honeybees, factory livestock, fishery depletion, aquaculture, yields, antibiotics, monocrops and chemicals. Some of these can be as polarizing as the most difficult social issues; there’s as deep a schism in the food community as there is in Congress. 


The Utah Health Policy Project has been presenting “Health Care 101” events to show how the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is being implementing in Utah. Utah residents have until March 31st to enroll in new private insurance on

Gary Paul Nabhan is a nature writer, food and farming activist, and proponent of conserving the links between biodiversity and cultural diversity. He has been honored as a pioneer in the local food movement and seed saving community by Utne Reader, Mother Earth News, New York Times, Bioneers and Time magazine. As the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona Southwest Center, he works with students, faculty and non-profits to build a more just, nutritious, sustainable and climate-resilient foodshed spanning the U.S./Mexico border.

  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. Brad Gregory, a USU alumnus, returns to Logan to give a presentation in the Tanner Talks series from the USU College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The talk is Friday at noon in USU Library room 101.

Political satirist and “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” panelist, P.J. O’Rourke, trains his eye on his own generation in his new book, “THE BABY BOOM: How It Got That Way…And It Wasn’t My Fault…And I’ll Never Do It Again.” O’Rourke writes, “Yes, we’re spoiled rotten. We’re self-absorbed. And it seems like we’ll never shut up. But the boomers made a better world for everyone else. You’re welcome.” P.J. O'Rourke’s books include “Don’t Vote,” “Parliament of Whores,” “Give War a Chance,” “Eat the Rich,” “The CEO of the Sofa,” “Peace Kills” and “On the Wealth of Nation.”

U. S. House Republican Leaders recently outlined principles they believe should be followed in any overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws.  This has raised hopes that immigration reform might move forward in Congress. What you think: Path to citizenship? Increased border security? What’s needed most? Or should this issue not be a priority? Do you have a personal experience or concern regarding immigration? We’ll be talking to members of the group: Bibles Badges and Business for Immigration Reform, Pastor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church Steve Klemz and Immigration Attorney Timothy Wheelwright.