Tom Williams

UPR Management | 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.”  He and his wife Becky, live in Logan.

Utah 4H is celebrating its centennial Thursday through Saturday in Logan. Access Utah will join in Thursday morning at 9:00 on the Quad in the middle of Utah State University, just outside Old Main. We’ll talk with current 4H participants as well as alumni of the program, and chart the changes in 4H over those one hundred years: from agriculture and home economics to robotics and rocket science.

We'll cover the state from rural to urban on Access Utah Tuesday. Tom Williams will come to us live from Park City from the Western Region Joint Summer Meeting, hosted by Utah State University Extension.

Kevin Jones is a doctor at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Utah and in his new book, "What Doctors Cannot Tell You: Clarity, Confidence, and Uncertainty in Medicine,"  he talks about the gray in medicinal knowledge and communication with patients.  Dr. Jones will discuss the way patients can take charge of their medical care and create an open dialogue with doctors by asking questions and making decisions as a team.  

Former Utah Symphony Associate Concertmaster, Gerald Elias’ new Daniel Jacobus mystery novel “Death and Transfiguration” takes place at the Tanglewood Music Festival.  The villain of the story is Vaclav Herza, the last of a dying breed of great and tyrannical conductors, who has a knack for humiliating talented artists. 

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The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to release its much-anticipated ruling on the Affordable Care Act Thursday morning in the 8:00 hour. We’ll ask you for your reaction on Access Utah at 9:00.

We're looking at reactions to the results of Primary Day and the issues and candidates that will be moving forward to the November election, as well as some who didn't make it. We get political analysis from Frank Pignanelli and LaVarr Webb first. Then, we talk to candidates Donna McAleer (D)  and Sean Reyes. McAleer won her race with 80 percent of the vote. Reyes did not win his race, and he responds.


One of the worst fire seasons in recent memory appears to just be getting started in Utah. Tuesday on Access Utah we’ll get the latest news from Salt Lake Tribune reporters and talk to Utah residents affected by the fires. We’ll also ask BLM Utah Fire Manager, Sheldon Wimmer, what we can do to reduce the risk of fire in the current very dangerous conditions. 

"The Obama administration's decision Friday to halt deportations and to begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children inspired both jubilation and dismay.”  That’s the recent headline in the Deseret News.  The President’s action has indeed provoked strong responses all over the political spectrum. We’ll be talking with Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and State Representative Chris Herrod. Later in the program we’ll get reaction to the Special Legislative Session from State Senator Lyle Hillyard and State Representative Brian King.  

In August 2008, when 11 climbers died on K2, the world’s most dangerous peak, two Sherpas were among the survivors. They had emerged from poverty and political turmoil to become two of the most skillful mountaineers on earth. Amanda Padoan and Peter Zuckerman tell their stories in Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2’s Deadliest Day

We talk to Utah resident and personal trainer Drew Manning on Access Utah Tuesday for the hour. Manning has been a trainer for years, and has never been overweight; his idea of a treat was an extra glass of spinach shake. But he often failed to help his clients reach their goals. He decided he needed to better understand what it was like to be on the other side. 

Thursday on Access Utah we're re-broadcasting a discussion with author Philip Connors about his book, "Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout." In 2002 Connors left his job as an editor at The Wall Street Journal to work as a fire lookout in New Mexico's Gila National Forest. Connors was to look out over the forest, and sound the alarm at the first sign of smoke. He has spent every summer in the forest since he left Manhattan. 

This is shaping up to be a very busy fire season in the West, with several fires already burning in Utah.

We’ll talk about wildfires on Wednesday’s Access Utah: surviving them, fighting them, preventing them, along with fire policy.

This episode of Access Utah was rebroadcast Thursday, October 18, 2012.

Terry Tempest Williams’ mother told her, “I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won’t look at them until after I’m gone.”

“They were exactly where she said they would be: three shelves of beautiful cloth-bound books . . . I opened the first journal. It was empty. I opened the second journal. It was empty. I opened the third. It too was empty . . . Shelf after shelf after shelf, all of my mother’s journals were blank.”

In her new book, When Women Were Birds, acclaimed Utah writer Terry Tempest Williams considers the mystery of her mother's journals and the questions “What does it mean to have a voice?”  Tom Williams will ask that question and many others on Tuesday's hour-long interview with Williams on Access Utah.

Have you noticed that more people are choosing tattoos these days?  Are tattoos going main stream? What do tattoos mean to people who have them? What do tattoos mean to the larger culture? On Thursday’s AU Tom Williams talks with University of Connecticut Sociology professor Clinton Sanders, author of "Customizing the Body—The Art and Culture of Tattooing."  He’ll also speak with a tattoo artist and owner of Sailor Jim's Electric Tattoo from Logan, Utah, a dermatologist, and a woman who is having her tattoos removed.  

More than 300 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints marched in the Utah Pride Parade on Sunday, leaving some spectators in tears.

Sportswriter John Feinstein has lived every fan’s dream: behind-the-scenes access to many of the great sports figures of our time, including Bob Knight, Dean Smith, Tiger Woods, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, and Martina Navratilova as well as encounters with less-heralded but fascinating players and coaches in the Patriot League, the U. S. Military Academies, and at golf’s Q School.

Greg Hudnall, then a new school principal, had to identify the body of a student who had killed himself.  Suicide prevention became a personal mission for Mr. Hudnall and he went on to found the Utah Hope Task Force.

David Gilkey/NPR

You may have been following NPR’s series, “Family Matters: The Money Squeeze,” heard Tuesdays on Morning Edition. Record numbers of adult children, middle-aged parents, and elderly grandparents are living under the same roof and doing their best to deal with the emotional and financial stresses. Many others are dealing with similar issues while not living together. Some economists are calling those middle-aged parents ”the sandwich generation.” 

Tuesday on Access Utah we revisit a conversation from March of last year with singer-songwriter Janis Ian.  Her song “Society’s Child” about an interracial romance placed her right at the flash point of the racial tensions of the sixties.  She writes in her autobiography about at least one experience performing the song: “I was having a hit record.

On Monday, we'll play a special episode of the public radio program / podcast BackStory from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m.

Monumental Disagreements:

It started as Decoration Day, a day to honor fallen Civil War soldiers and has evolved into Memorial Day, a time to honor all of our dead.  We’ll talk with Warren Hegg, with the “Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive” organization about the Borgstrom family of Thatcher who lost four sons in WWII.  Utah State University folklorist Randy Williams will join us to talk about the Veterans History Project and we’ll talk with several war veterans.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed legislation recently that would have taken public lands back from the U.S. government, explaining that the bill appeared to be "not reconcilable" with the Constitution. On Access Utah Wednesday, we invite Representative Ken Ivory to come talk about why he's disappointed in Gov. Brewer's decision and why he thinks the Utah bill would not be considered unconstitutional. We'll also talk to Stephen Trimble, a vocal opponent of the legislation.

Whether you ended up in the designated "sweet spot" with a solar telescope or just happened to see an eclipsed shadow on your front porch, we want to hear about your Utah eclipse experience. Post your photos or just your thoughts on UPR's Facebook page. Amateur solar gazers, writers, photographers are all welcome. It was a special night in Utah and we want to keep the feeling alive.

Rural sociologist John Allen says that community creates the success or failure of a civil society.  He has helped several communities trying to resolve serious conflicts.  His list of key mindsets required to achieve a civil society includes: “Meet the Weirdos” (anyone who may be different from you,) “Cultivate a Civil Tone,” and “Personalize” (get to know those on the other side as fellow human beings.)  John Allen, Dean of the USU College of Humanities and Social Sciences, was selected by USU Honors students to give the annual “Last Lecture,” which he delivered recently at USU.

Eric Greitens is our guest Wednesday on Access Utah, and will be discussing his book, The Heart & the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL,  and his experiences as both a humanitarian and soldier.