Access Utah

Weekdays 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.

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.

Join the discussion!

Ways to Connect

Jim Steenburgh says that for many who come to our state, powder is more than snow. It is a way of life.

Utah has long claimed to have the greatest snow on Earth—the state itself has even trademarked the phrase. In Secrets of the Greatest Snow on Earth: Weather, Climate Change, And Finding Deep Powder in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and Around the World (Utah State University Press) Steenburgh investigates Wasatch weather, exposing the myths (the famous “lake effect” is, he says, the most misunderstood Wasatch weather phenomenon) and revealing how and why Utah’s powder lives up to its reputation. (One section of the book is titled “Mother Nature’s Five-Step Plan for a Snowstorm.”) 

April Ashland / Utah Public Radio

What happens when newcomers from the suburbs move into farm country? Or when small-scale backyard farmers in cities or suburbs want to continue or begin operations against neighborhood opposition? Sometimes conflicts ensue. How should these be handled?

In Michigan, a “Right to Farm Act” was created in 1981 to protect farmers from the complaints of people from the city who moved to the country and then attempted to make it more urban with anti-farming ordinances. According to Gail Philburn of the Michigan Sierra Club, a recent ruling by the Michigan Commission of Agriculture and Rural Development “effectively removes Right to Farm Act protection for many urban and suburban backyard farmers raising small numbers of animals.”  


On Monday’s AU we’ll talk about Utah laws and rules and discuss the issues with Cache Valley farmers Don Baldwin and Reid Zought; USU Cache County Extension Agent Clark Israelsen; and Logan City Councilman Herm Olsen.



Smithsonian Artifacts On Friday's Access Utah

Nov 7, 2014

The Smithsonian Institution houses a vast collection of artifacts from across the nation and around the world.  What can all of these items tell us about American culture and history?  Friday on Access Utah, Richard Kurin, Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian, joins Sheri Quinn for a discussion about the stories they reveal.  At 9:30 Science Questions explores marijuana policy through the lens of a theologian. 

Albert Bierstadt /

As we move toward the Winter Solstice, we’ll revisit a program from April when we invited three Utah writers to reflect on the environment for Earth Day 2014. Where are we with regard to the environment and the land we love? What progress has been made? What are the most pressing current problems? Jana Richman, author of “The Ordinary Truth,” and other books; Stephen Trimble, whose books include, Bargaining for Eden: The Fight for the Last Open Spaces in America;” and George Handley, author of “Home Waters: A Year of Recompenses on the Provo River,” and other works, reflect on the earth and the land from a poetic and perhaps a political perspective as well.

Today we recap the mid-term elections which saw control of the U. S. Senate return to the Republicans and a Republican clean sweep in Utah’s congressional races. One constitutional amendment passed in Utah and two were defeated. Several state school board incumbents were defeated. 

We’ll open the phone lines for your comments. What race were you keying on? What are your predictions for the future? What issues concern you? Today also marks the unofficial start to the 2016 presidential campaign. We’ll talk about all of this and more with Deseret News columnists LaVarr Webb and Frank Pignanelli; and Mike Lyons and Damon Cann from the USU Political Science Department.

From Farinelli, the eighteenth century castrato who brought down opera houses with his high C, to the recording of "Johnny B. Goode" affixed to the Voyager spacecraft, Elena Passarello, in Let Me Clear My Throat dissects the whys and hows of popular voices. There are murders of punk rock crows, impressionists, and rebel yells; Howard Dean's "BYAH!" and Marlon Brando's "Stella!" and a stock film yawp that has made cameos in movies from A Star is Born to Spaceballs. The voice is thought's incarnating instrument and Elena Passarello's essays are a deconstruction of the ways the sounds we make both express and shape who we are—the annotated soundtrack of us giving voice to ourselves.

In “Outlawing Genocide Denial: The Dilemmas of Official Historical Truth” (University of Utah Press) historian and political scientist Guenter Lewy scrutinizes the practice of criminalizing the expression of unpopular, even odious historical interpretations, exemplified by genocide denial. Holocaust denial can be viewed as another form of hatred against the Jews and preventing it can be understood as a form of warding off hate speech. Germany has made it a crime punishable by law. Other European countries have similar laws.

A piece of the 21st century pie--people everywhere are clamoring for their own life-sustaining morsel. But water, pesticide, distribution, and financial issues seem to conspire against assuring a hungry world there will be enough to eat. Noelle Cockett, executive vice president and provost for Utah State University, has long been researching answers to the question of how to feed 21st century populations. Dr. Cockett brought her expertise to Utah State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Tanner Talks when she kicked off the 2013-15 lecture series last month with a look into the future of food production. Her talk was titled: “Feast or Famine: Feeding a Hungry World in the 21st Century.”

Provost Cockett will join Tom Williams for Friday’s Access Utah.

A while back on Access Utah, Glen in the Uintah Basin shared this story: “I used to haul crude oil from oil wells. We have an area in central Duchesne County called the Koch Field. It was originally operated by the infamous Koch brothers' business and developed in the 1970s and early 80s. The Koch field is very remote and quite rugged. Many oilfield workers claimed to have seen a ‘headless horseman.’ I first heard about this when I was dispatched to a load out in the field probably in 1999.

In this age of smartphones, work doesn’t necessarily end when you leave the office. For many there is an expectation that you should be available after hours. Germany is considering legislation that would ban employers from contacting workers after office hours. Labor Minister Andrea Nahles says "there is an undeniable relationship between constant availability and the increase of mental illness."

And what about work/life balance? Entrepreneur and mother of three, Inge Geerdens, writing on LinkedIn, says “I don’t need a balance; I’m not looking for a way to balance my private life with my professional life. I’m just trying to have a great life.” What do you think? Tell us about your work and how you are balancing everything, especially with the explosion of technology.

On an early autumn afternoon, gay teen Zack Harrington killed himself with a gunshot to the head at his parent’s ranch in Norman, Oklahoma. One week earlier, Zack allegedly attended a local city council meeting in support of a proposal for LGBTQ History Month. When the floor opened up for public comment, some community members made controversial statements equating being gay with the spread of diseases such as HIV and AIDS.

Against the backdrop of a town bitterly divided on the issue of homosexuality, Zack’s parents, both conservative Republicans and military veterans, are forced to reconcile their own social and political beliefs with their son’s death. Determined to understand him, they discover a diary, which paints a portrait of a boy in crisis, and a secret that Zack kept hidden for almost two years. It leads them to some painful conclusions about their son’s life and death.

Hal Crimmel, Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor of English at Weber State University, is editor of a new book "Desert Water: The Future of Utah's Water Resources" (University of Utah Press) which brings together the results of scientific research and the voices of environmental humanists, social scientists, and policy advocates to provide a broad perspective on Utah water issues.

Logan has some of the worst air in the nation several days many years.  On Friday’s AU, USU Professor of Toxicology, Roger Coulombe, talks to host Sheri Quinn about Cache Valley air and what is being done to help clean it up so we can all breathe a little easier.   

At 9:30 Science Questions explores the downwind effects of nuclear testing in Nevada and Utah in the 1950s and the science of nuclear bombs with one of the nation's first female chemists.

In 2012, two skiers from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, noticed that snow was disappearing from the western U.S. and wondered how long it would be before it affected the mountains in their backyard. They called Porter Fox, a longtime Powder magazine editor and writer, and asked if he was interested in writing a book about climate change and snow.

In the resulting book, ”DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow” Fox notes that in the last 45 years, 1 million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere. Rocky Mountain spring snowpack is down by 20%, and Europe has lost half of its glacial ice. Winter warming in the U.S. has tripled since 1970, and warming in the European Alps is now three times the global average. By mid-century, climatologists predict that more than half of the Northeast's 103 ski resorts will have to close due to rising temperatures. Two-thirds of Europe's ski resorts will likely no longer be snow-reliable in 50-70 years. The Western U.S. could lose anywhere from 25-100% of its snowpack by 2100, effectively ending skiing at resorts like Park City and relegating ski operations at Aspen to the top quarter of the mountain. And that's just the beginning...

Dallas Hyland, a photojournalist and resident of St. George, recently traveled to Colombia with a privately-funded organization, Operation Underground Railroad, to execute what they called Clear Hope; a mission they say proved to be the biggest child trafficking rescue operation in history.

Hyland says that there are approximately 23-million people worldwide in some form of subjugation, including forced labor, and sex labor. And two million of those are children. He adds that “ the height of the Trans-Atlantic trade, the slave trade, I believe the numbers were around 17 million. This is alarming because that means we’re not progressing, we’re digressing. ...slavery did not end with the Civil War...It’s getting worse. It’s just underground and nobody talks about it.” 

It’s been THE topic of conversation at Utah State University for several days now as well as making the pages of the New York Times and the airwaves of NPR: After learning that USU was legally forbidden from restricting firearms at a Wednesday lecture over which she received a death threat, nationally-known feminist writer and video game critic, Anita Sarkeesian, canceled her appearance. (SLTrib) She says she won’t appear at a Utah school until guns are barred from the state’s campuses.

Rep. Curt Oda says she’s overreacting and says that he wants to further strengthen gun rights by reinforcing Utah law allowing open carrying of guns on Utah’s college campuses. Students and faculty gathered Wednesday at USU to promote free speech and condemn threats against Sarkeesian.

On Monday's Access Utah we'll revisit a conversation from March.  

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.

Listen Here

Friday on Access Utah host Sheri Quinn revisits her conversation with former oil executive and geologist Marc Deshowitz about the unique geology of southern Utah parks and the ancient history of oil in the area.    At 9:30 Science Questions presents a special encore program about youth addiction and recovery featuring Utah addiction scientist Glen Hanson and an educational approach gaining popularity across the nation that fosters recover schools.

William Alexander is more than a Francophile. He wants to be French. There’s one small problem: he doesn’t speak the language. In “Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart” Alexander sets out to conquer the language he loves. But will it love him back?

Alexander eats, breathes, and sleeps French (even conjugating in his dreams). He travels to France, where mistranslations send him bicycling off in all sorts of wrong directions, and he nearly drowns in an immersion class in Provence. While playing hooky from grammar lessons and memory techniques, Alexander reports on the Académie française, the four-hundred-year-old institution charged with keeping the language pure; explores the science of human communication, learning why it’s harder for fifty-year-olds to learn a second language than it is for five-year-olds; and, frustrated with his progress, explores an IBM research lab, where he trades barbs with a futuristic hand-held translator. Does he succeed in becoming fluent?  Alexander is surprised to discover that studying French may have had a far greater impact on his life than actually learning to speak it ever would.

Technological advances seem to be accelerating. Every day we hear of something new: self-driving cars, wearable computers, factory robots, digitized medicine… Continuing advances in computers and automation can reduce workloads, increase productivity, and even imbue life with a sense of wonder. But Nicholas Carr, in his new book, “The Glass Cage: Automation and Us,” says there are hidden costs in granting software dominion over our work and leisure. Even as these programs bring ease to our lives, he says, they are stealing something essential from us.

Drawing on psychological and neurological studies that underscore how tightly people’s happiness and satisfaction are tied to performing hard work in the real world, Carr reveals something we already suspect: shifting our attention to computer screens can leave us disengaged and discontented. From nineteenth-century textile mills to the cockpits of modern jets, from the frozen hunting grounds of Inuit tribes to the sterile landscapes of GPS maps, “The Glass Cage” examines the personal as well as the economic consequences of our growing dependence on computers.

Tuesday we’ll revisit this conversation from May:

Josh Hanagarne couldn't be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn't officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms.

Listen Here

By the time he was twenty, the young Mormon had reached his towering adult height of 6'7" when — while serving on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — his Tourette's tics escalated to nightmarish levels. Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman — and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison — taught Josh how to "throttle" his tics into submission through strength-training.

Russell Honore came to national attention when, as a U.S. Army Lt. General, he was assigned to lead the Department of Defense’s Joint Task-Force Katrina. The hurricane hit on Monday, August 29, 2005, and he was put in charge of overseeing the federal emergency response on Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. By the time he arrived on Wednesday morning thousands of people were stranded on roof tops and in attics and more than 16,000 people were at the Superdome along with a similar number at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, according to Honore.

General Honore gained a reputation as a straight-talking no-nonsense leader who got things done and was called the”Category 5 General” and that “John Wayne dude.” He served 37 years in the military and supported the Department of Defense’s response to several hurricanes including Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and Lili in 2002. Now retired from the army, he says his current mission is to help build a culture of preparedness in families and communities. His books include “Leadership in the New Normal” and “Survival: How Being Prepared Can Keep You and Your Family Safe.” He is currently a senior scientist with The Gallup Organization, where he is working on developing questions to determine levels of preparedness. He is also an active public speaker and regular contributor to CNN where he is often interviewed on topics related to disaster preparedness.

In her new book “The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us” Diane Ackerman writes that “our relationship with nature has changed radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad. Our new epoch is laced with invention. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable.”


Ackerman, who appeared recently at the Utah Humanities Council Book Festival, confronts the fact that the human race is now the single dominant force of change on the planet. She says that humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” We now collect the DNA of vanishing species in a “frozen ark,” equip orangutans with iPads, create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. Ackerman, author of “A Natural History of the Senses,” seeks to help us understand this new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating — perhaps saving — our future.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear same-sex marriage appeals from Utah and four other states, letting stand lower court rulings that allow gays and lesbians to marry. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has lifted the hold it had placed on same-sex marriages in Utah and four other states.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Attorney General Sean Reyes said at a news conference that the state would abide by the law. The governor has sent state agencies a letter advising them to immediately recognize legally performed same-sex marriages.

On Monday’s AU we’ll spend the hour with Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank. We’ll talk about events in Ferguson, Missouri, including issues of race and police militarization. We’ll also talk about recent shootings in Utah, police body cameras, and community policing, among other issues.