Access Utah

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Access Utah is UPR's original program focusing on the things that matter to Utah. The hour-long show airs daily at 9:00 a.m. and covers everything from pets to politics in a range of formats from in-depth interviews to call-in shows.

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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. 

The story of "Ol' Blue Eyes" continues with Kaplan's new book "Sinatra: The Chairman," (recently published ahead of Sinatra's 100th birthday on December 12) which picks up the day after Sinatra claimed his Academy Award in 1954 and had reestablished himself as the top recording artist in music. Sinatra's life post-Oscar was incredibly dense: in between recording albums and singles, he often shot four or five movies a year; did TV show and nightclub appearances; started his own label, Reprise; and juggled his considerable commercial ventures (movie production, the restaurant business, even prizefighter management) alongside his famous and sometimes notorious social activities and commitments.

W. W. Norton & Company

Alex Honnold exploded onto the climbing scene in 2008 after a free solo of Moonlight Buttress in Zion National Park. Now one of the most famous adventurers in the world, he climbs without a rope, without a partner, and without any gear to attach himself to the wall. 

If he falls, he dies. In his new book Alone on the Wall, Honnold recounts his  seven most astonishing achievements thus far, including free-soloing Sendero Luminoso in Mexico and climbing the Fitz Traverse in Patagonia. Honnold says "...if I have a certain gift, it's the ability to keep myself together in places that allow no room for error. I somehow know, in such a fix [...] how to breathe deeply, calm myself down and get on with it." 

Alex Honnold will be signing his book and speaking at REI, in Salt Lake City, on Dec. 2nd from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Brenda Tracy, writing for Sports Illustrated says "At first I couldn't say the following words without getting a lump in my throat and tears welling in my eyes. Today these jarring words roll off my tongue. 'I was gang raped.' I start a lot of speaking engagements with that sentence. You think you get nervous talking in front of a crowd? Try sharing intimate details of the worst event in your life with complete strangers. ... My gang rape happened 17 years ago, and statistically nothing has changed. How do we improve the numbers? How do we prevent my story from happening again?" 

Photograph by David McLain

Writer and explorer Gretel Ehrlich is author of 13 books, including "The Solace of Open Spaces." She has written for National Geographic, The Atlantic, Orion, and other publications. Her recent writing has covered everything from her experience being struck by lightning, to essays about how climate change has been affecting the Arctic communities in Greenland that she has been visiting for the last 16 years. Writing in Harper's Magazine she notes that "the ways in which these Greenlanders get their food are not much different than they were a thousand years ago, but in recent years Arctic scientists have labeled Greenland's seasonal sea ice 'a rotten ice regime.' Instead of nine months of good ice, there are only two or three. Where the ice in spring was once routinely six to ten feet thick, in 2004 the thickness was only seven inches even when the temperature was -30 degrees Fahrenheit. 'It is breaking up from beneath,' one hunter explained, 'because of the wind and stormy waters. We never had that before. 

Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before. In his New York Times bestselling book “Lights Out,” longtime Nightline host Ted Koppel reveals that a major cyberattack on America’s power grid is not only possible but likely, that it would be devastating, and that the United States is shockingly unprepared.  Koppel reports that, the federal government, while well prepared for natural disasters, has no plan for the aftermath of an attack on the power grid.  In the absence of a government plan, some individuals and communities have taken matters into their own hands. Among the nation’s estimated three million “preppers,” Koppel introduces us to one whose doomsday retreat includes a newly excavated three-acre lake, stocked with fish, and a Wyoming homesteader so self-sufficient that he crafted the thousands of adobe bricks in his house by hand. Koppel also reports on the unrivaled disaster preparedness of the Mormon church, with its enormous storehouses, high-tech dairies, orchards, and proprietary trucking company – the fruits of a long tradition of anticipating the worst. But how,Koppel asks, will ordinary civilians survive? Ted Koppel joins us for the second half of Tuesday’s Access Utah.

  In the first half we’ll ask Proofpoint CEO Gary Steele how to keep our data safe, especially on email, social media and mobile apps. Steele says that social media is the next frontier for cyber security threats.

The amount of student debt across the country adds up to almost 1.3 trillion dollars. As a comparison, that is almost how much US currency is in circulation today. Last Thursday students across the country gathered on college campuses for the Million Student March, calling for free tuition at public universities, cancellation of all student debt, and implementation of a $15 minimum hourly wage for university employees. 

Rick Bowmer/AP

Last week, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released an updated handbook for lay leaders of Mormon congregations mandating church discipline for same-sex couples who marry and prohibiting their children from receiving baby blessings or being baptized until they reach age 18. Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the new policies are designed to protect children from conflict, not to limit the opportunities for children in the church.  According to the Deseret News, protesters in Salt Lake City on Sunday said the new policy perpetuates inequities and called on the church to reverse course. 

National Geographic

In some polls, about 25 percent of Americans deny climate change is happening at all.  Others know they should care, but want to be spared the details and believe they can’t do anything to affect the outcome anyway.  Dennis Dimick, National Geographic magazine's Executive Editor, Environment, says, “These are the people that National Geographic thought about every day in putting together November’s...magazine...devoted to exploring climate change and timed to coincide with the global climate conference in Paris.” The special Climate Change edition is organized into three categories: How do we know it’s happening? How to fix it? and How to Live With It?  


In his new book “The Generals” historian Winston Groom tells the intertwined and uniquely American tales of George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, and George Marshall - from the World War I battle that shaped them to their greatest victory: leading the allies to victory in World War II. These three remarkable men-of-arms who rose from the gruesome hell of the First World War to become the finest generals of their generation during World War II redefined America's ideas of military leadership and brought forth a new generation of American soldier. Their efforts revealed to the world the grit and determination that would become synonymous with America in the post-war years.




Commemorating twenty years since the wolf’s return to the American West, Howl explores passions and controversies surrounding nature’s most fascinating predator. Susan Imhoff Bird travels the West, journeying from her home in Salt Lake City, Utah, through Yellowstone and Montana. Along the way, she interviews ranchers and park personnel, wolf watchers, biologists, and families, uncovering a range of emotions—from admiration and reverence to vitriol and anxiety—toward wolves and all that they have come to signify.  

Community Rebuilds

Emily Niehaus says she “founded Community Rebuilds to address an affordable housing need in my rural community with the larger goal of shifting the existing construction paradigm to have a lighter impact...It began as a simple idea to replace old, dilapidated housing (like singlewide trailers built prior to 1976) with homes that cost less to build and less to heat and cool for working families. The premise is to use volunteers to offset the cost of construction, utilize federal financing to offer participants a low interest rate and a reasonable payment plan, and build with sustainable materials that are dirt-cheap…literally build affordable, energy-efficient homes out of straw, sand, clay, and wood.”

In this off year election, turnout was predictably low in many areas, some areas saw a spike, but still many important were addressed. Jackie Biskupski appears to have unseated Ralph Becker for Mayor in Salt Lake City, Proposition 1 went down to defeat in the vast majority of counties, albeit narrowly in some cases. On the national scene, Ohio voters have rejected a marijuana legalization measure, Houston voters appealed an anti-discrimination ordinance and Kentucky seems to be following its neighbors in trending Republican. Today on the program we speak with Deseret News Commentator Frank Pignanelli and Michael Lyons, Associate Professor of Political Science at Utah State University. 

CBS reports that the demand for butlers is on the rise, possibly because of Downton Abbey. Steven Ferry, Chairman of the International Institute of Modern Butlers, and a butler himself, says that butling can be an interesting, fulfilling and lucrative career. On Tuesday’s Access Utah, we’ll hear stories from Steven Ferry and UPR Commentator Richard Ratliff, who is special assistant to the Dean of the Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University. Dr. Ratliff is professor of accounting Emeritus at USU and a trained butler. We’ll also hear how butling has been portrayed in the popular media. We’ll hear clips from Jeeves and Wooster, Gosford Park,   Remains of the Day, Monk, The Andy Griffith Show, Upstairs, Downstairs, and, of course, Downton Abbey. 

This broadcast of Access Utah originally aired in May of 2015.

How do you sum up a life? What do you include and what do you leave out? Heather Lende, author of the new book "Find the Good," is the obituary writer for the Chilkat Valley News in a beautiful but often dangerous spit of land in Alaska. She says "we are all writing our own obituary every day by how we live." Shanan Ballam, who teaches Creative Writing at Utah State University, wrote her brother Dylan's obituary. She felt that the obituary was not enough--it left too much unsaid.  So she's been writing "addendum" poems, to "more fully characterize, celebrate, and mourn [her] brother."


Heather Lende has contributed essays and commentary to NPR, the New York Times, and National Geographic Traveler, among other newspapers and magazines, and is a former contributing editor at Woman's Day. In addition to writing obituaries for the Chilkat Valley News, she is  columnist for the Alaska Dispatch News. Her previous books include  If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, and Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs.

Sherman Alexie is a major voice in contemporary American literature. He is the author of twenty books including Reservation Blues and The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. The award-winning, and widely banned, young adult novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian won him the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. 

Just exactly where do we find the supernatural in the contemporary world? It's both pervasive--everywhere--and specific--a particular somewhere. Otherworldly traditions and stories still spread through oral narration. They pervade mass media and the digital world and often form the stuff of hypermodern folklore--the stew of folk, popular, consumer, and digital culture that constitutes much of contemporary life. People also imbue specific places--from the local haunted house or cemetery to whole towns or cities--with supernatural manifestations or significance.

"Putting the Supernatural in Its Place" explores zombies, vampires, witches, demented nuns, mediums, and ghosts in their natural (and unnatural) habitats while making sense of the current ubiquity of the supernatural on the Internet, in movies, tourism, and in places like New Orleans. We'll talk about these, as well local folklore, such as St. Anne's Retreat, in Logan Canyon.

Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve Walt Longmire mystery novels, which are the basis for Longmire, the hit Netflix original drama. The Cold Dish won Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs. Death Without Company, the Wyoming Historical Association's Book of the Year, won France's Le Prix 813, and Another Man's Moccasins was the Western Writers of America's Spur Award Winner and the Mountains & Plains Book of the Year. The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Junkyard Dogs won The Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick. Hell Is Empty, selected by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of the Year, was a New York Times best seller, as was As the Crow Flies, which won the Rocky for the best crime novel typifying the western United States. A Serpent's Tooth opened as a New York Times bestseller as did Any Other Name and Wait for Signs, Johnson's collection of short stories. Spirit of Steamboat was selected by the State Library as the inaugural One Book Wyoming and included visits to sixty-three libraries. Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.


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.

They faced seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The children were Japanese-American, were malnourished and barefoot and had no pool; they trained in the filthy irrigation ditches that snaked down from the mountains into the sugarcane fields. Their future was in those same fields, working alongside their parents in virtual slavery, known not by their names but by numbered tags that hung around their necks. Their teacher, Soichi Sakamoto, was an ordinary man whose swimming ability didn't extend much beyond treading water.

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.

How does the place we live inform our art? With its valleys and peaks, sagebrush and streams, the Great Basin inspires creative expression in forms as varied as its landscape. Join four distinguished artists—a filmmaker, a photographer, a novelist, and a poet—in a panel discussion about the unique inspiration discovered in the Great Basin. 

Named by the Guardian as one of our top ten writers of rural noir, Bonnie Jo Campbell is a keen observer of life and trouble in rural America, and her working-class protagonists can be at once vulnerable, wise, cruel, and funny. The strong but flawed women of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters must negotiate a sexually charged atmosphere as they love, honor, and betray one another against the backdrop of all the men in their world. Such richly fraught mother-daughter relationships can be lifelines, anchors, or they can sink a woman like a stone.

In "My Dog Roscoe," a new bride becomes obsessed with the notion that her dead ex-boyfriend has returned to her in the form of a mongrel. In "Blood Work, 1999," a phlebotomist's desire to give away everything to the needy awakens her own sensuality. In "Home to Die," an abused woman takes revenge on her bedridden husband. In these fearless and darkly funny tales about women and those they love, Campbell’s spirited American voice is at its most powerful.


Bonnie Jo Campbell will be at the King's English Bookshop Wednesday, October 28th at 7:00 pm for a book review and signing. 




Downwind: A People's History of the Nuclear West is an unflinching tale of the atomic West that reveals the intentional disregard for human and animal life through nuclear testing by the federal government and uranium extraction by mining corporations during and after the Cold War.


Sarah Alisabeth Fox highlights the personal cost of nuclear testing and uranium extraction in the American West through extensive interviews with “downwinders,” the Native American and non-Native residents of the Great Basin region affected by nuclear environmental contamination and nuclear-testing fallout. These downwinders tell tales of communities ravaged by cancer epidemics, farmers and ranchers economically ruined by massive crop and animal deaths, and miners working in dangerous conditions without proper safety equipment so that the government could surreptitiously study the effects of radiation on humans.


Robin Holland

Karen Armstrong, in her book “Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence” writes that: “In the West the idea that religion is inherently violent is now taken for granted and seems self-evident. As one who speaks on religion, I constantly hear how cruel and aggressive it has been, a view that, eerily, is expressed the same way almost every time: ‘Religion has been the cause of all the major wars in history.’” Armstrong asserts that: “The problem lies not in the multifaceted activity that we call ‘religion’ but in the violence embedded in our human nature and the nature of the state…”


With Bernard, her husband of fifty-five years, now in the grave, seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance impulsively sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise that her late husband had planned. But what she hoped would be a voyage leading to a new lease on life becomes a surprising and revelatory journey into Harriet’s past.

Dr. Douglas Johnston is a scholar, diplomat, peacemaker, and the youngest officer in the Navy to qualify for command of a nuclear submarine.  He is founder and president of the Washington DC based International Center for Religion and Diplomacy.

Among its accomplishments, the Center helped end a 21 year old civil war and brokered the release of 14 Taliban-held hostages. As they work to prevent violence and diffuse religious conflict in some of the most dangerous regions of the world, Johnston and his team use diplomatic “back-channels” and “faith-based diplomacy” to effect positive change where traditional diplomatic missions have failed.

Douglas Johnston will appear today as a part of the USU College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Tanner Talk series. His talk is titled “Faith-based Diplomacy as a Counter to Violent Extremism.” He will speak in the USU Taggart Student Center Auditorium at 4:30 pm.