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. Email us at or call at 1-800-826-1495.

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On Today’s Access Utah we continue our series on Mass Shootings in America by asking how the media should respond. Our guests include Tom Teves, whose son Alex was killed in the mass shooting in Aurora Colorado. Teves is a founder of No Notoriety a campaign that urges news outlets to limit how much they use a gunman’s name and photograph. Tom Teves says the hope is to curb shootings by denying many perpetrators what they want: fame.


We’ll also be speaking to Deseret News reporter Chandra Johnson, whose series of articles on mass shootings can be found in the Deseret News National Edition.

Writer Ceiridwen Terrill writes about how, at a particularly sad and frightening time in her life, a wolf dog was the kind of companion she was searching for. In her book, "Part Wild: Caught Between the Worlds of Wolves and Dogs," she talks about an animal who's heart is divided between the woman she loves, and the desire to roam free. In the end, Terrill realized she must confront the reality of taming a half-wild animal. We spoke with Ceirdwen Terrill in 2012, and today on the program we revisit that conversation. 

Oxford Dictionaries' word of the year for 2015 isn't a word at all; it's an emoji, one of those little faces that you see all over on social media. And I'm hearing extreme glottal stops (as in "the new football coach at USC is Clay Helhhh-uhhn (Helton)" and "strength" pronounced as "shtrength." It's enough to drive a language purist to distraction.

In response to the San Bernardino shootings, President Obama said, "We have a pattern now of mass shootings in this country that has no parallel anywhere else in the world."

We’re going to hold an open forum on Wednesday’s Access Utah. We invite you to call in and talk about this. Why are so many mass shootings happening in the U.S.? What can be done about this? What should we do? Is this the new normal?

We’ll talk with Matthew LaPlante, Assistant Professor of Journalism at Utah State University, about terrorism, gun accessibility, mental illness, media coverage, culture, religion, prayer shaming, and more.

And we want to know what you think.

You can comment NOW through the Utah Public Insight Network online at, via Twitter @UtahPublicRadio, on our Utah Public Radio Facebook page or by email to


Ron Carlson’s latest novel, “Return to Oakpine,” is a tender and nostalgic portrait of western American life. In it, Carlson tells the story of four middle-aged friends who once played in a band while growing up together in small-town Wyoming. One of them, Jimmy Brand, left for New York City and became an admired novelist. Thirty years later in 1999, he’s returned to die. Craig Ralston and Frank Gunderson never left Oakpine; Mason Kirby, a Denver lawyer, is back on family business. Jimmy’s arrival sends the other men’s dreams and expectations, realized and deferred, whirling to the surface. And now that they are reunited, getting the band back together might be the most essential thing they ever do.

Should Utah accept refugees from Syria? That’s the question we’ll address on Thursday’s Access Utah. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah's members of Congress want to stop Syrian refugees from entering the country until new security checks are implemented, a process that could take years. Senator Orrin Hatch says “It's irresponsible, particularly after [the Paris] attacks, to reduce this issue to one of mere compassion."


Signature Books

Our guest for the hour today is Utah author David G. Pace whose debut novel Dream House on Golan Drive is published by Signature Books. It is the year 1972, and Riley Hartley finds that he, his family, community, and his faith are entirely indistinguishable from each other. He is eleven. A young woman named Lucy claims God has revealed to her that she is to live with Riley’s family.


Her quirks are strangely disarming, her relentless questioning of their lives incendiary and sometimes comical. Her way of taking religious practice to its logical conclusion leaves a strong impact on her hosts and propels Riley outside his observable universe and toward a trajectory of self discovery.

Set in Provo and New York City during the seventies and eighties, the story encapsulates the normal expectations of a Mormon experience and turns them on their head.



Marco Borggreve

When NPR’s Robert Siegel suggested that the harpsichord is viewed as old and not enormously popular, Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani responded: “I think these things would only matter to Americans. As long as there's a place for sundials and gardening and beautiful things, there's a place for the harpsichord. I completely reject the idea that the harpsichord is old and I reject the idea that something old is therefore not good or not popular. Lots of things are old. Lots of traditions are old. I like it because it's beautiful.”

Photographer Jonathan Diaz says “I have always been fascinated by the power and poignancy of a child’s imagination. Children are not afraid to dream big: they believe anything is possible. They are innocent. With this innocence comes dreams and honest aspirations that, from the view of an outsider, might seem impossible. However, through the eyes of a child, such dreams are absolutely obtainable.” Diaz is creator and photographer of Anything Can Be and a book “True Heroes” which features the dreams of 21 children are or were fighting cancer. Each child is featured in a professional photo shoot depicting his or her dreams. And 21 authors (including such best-selling writers as Shannon Hale, Brandon Mull, Ally Condie, and Jennifer a. Neilsen) were commissioned to write a story, featuring one of the children as hero.


In the first half of Monday’s Access Utah, we’ll talk with Jonathan Diaz, and Peggy Eddleman, author of “Sky Jumpers,” who wrote “Braelyn and the Speeding Train” included in the book.

Later in the program, Deseret News columnist Jason F. Wright writes “On Thanksgiving night in 2008, Taylor Richards of Sandy sat in his dark car a few miles from his parents’ home. He was exhausted, cold, 25 years old and a raging alcoholic. He was also alone. This wrong kind of silent night was interrupted by a phone call from his brother Spencer.

The holiday season is a time for celebration and family togetherness. It’s supposed to bring us joy. But Christine Moll, chair and professor of counseling and human services at Canisius College and a mental health counselor, says that for many the holidays are a time of stress, loneliness, anxiety, and dysfunction. On Wednesday’s AU, as we head into the holiday season, we’ll ask you what you do to make the season joyful. And how do you de-stress during the holidays? We’ll get advice from Christine Moll and Marriage and Family Therapist and Rage Against The Minivan blogger, Kristen Howerton. We’ll also turn to writers Sarah Cottrell and Michael Levin for humorous takes on holiday stress.

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.