About TLS

J.M. Bell

J.M. BellJeff Bell is a professional writer, part time indie-film maker, musician, wonk and political consultant. He’s been working in and around politics since 1989 when he volunteered on a City Council campaign for free guitar strings. He’s worked or consulted on more than 41 campaigns in 5 different states, mostly in communications strategy, IT design and strategy and campaign management.

Jeff spent 3 years as the host of Left of the Dial on KSL NewsRadio, fulfilling a lifelong dream and proving that you should be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it … and it might be a giant turd.

Jeff is the former Democratic National Committee Communications Director for Utah (2005-2007), and the the president of the Children’s Justice Corps, a non-profit entity that educates about sexual and physical crimes against children and lobbies for smarter, long term prosecution and punishment for offenders.

Jeff is also the Creative Director for Defenestrate Media Group, making documentary features, handling graphic design and managing social media internet development for Defenestrate Media clients.

  • Favorite Actor – 51% William Shatner / 49% Bruce Campbell
  • Favorite Movie – Thor / Star Trek: Into Darkness
  • Current Favorite Band – Bastille
  • All time favorite Band – Pink Floyd
  • Favorite US Writer – David James Duncan / Jim Butcher
  • Favorite Writer – Patrick O’Brian or Bernard Cornwell


Forrest Shaw

Forrest ShawForrest Shaw has done nothing particularly important politically, other than vote. When he’s not voting you’ll find him obsessing over things most would find trivial: Helmets, buckets, sirens, and especially Garbage Day. Dig a little deeper and you will see that all is not as it seems in his Empire.

Forrest is a dreamer with one foot on the ground. He inspires others to be all that he is not. He’s a realistic optimist. He has an extreme dislike for extremists of all kinds, which also makes him an extremist, but he’s okay with this. Actually, he likes it.

Forrest also welcomes the challenge of a good discussion. He’s more afraid of being right than wrong, he’ll tell you how he sees it and warn you if you should wear your helmet. He’s never at a loss for words until he writes about himself in the third person…


JC Carter

JC CarterJC Carter is a professional interaction designer, web designer, web marketing consultant, graphic designer and occasional writer and editor. When his wife and kids allow him free time, he fills it teaching Tai Chi and Yoga, producing and directing local theatre productions and volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America.

He became interested in politics in college. First when he minored in political science at Utah Valley (now a university, then a community college). Then, when he actively protested the original Gulf War (including organizing a sit-in with JM Bell). and culminating when he helped found “The Progressive Club,” whose motto was, “There aren’t many liberals in Utah County, so we all need to stick together.” Most recently he directed Great American Speeches, a spoken word CD that included speeches from William Jennings Bryan and Chief Joseph.

JC is the creator and director of BackstageUtah.com, an online theatre community and resource site, and is also the marketing director for Around the Globe Theatre Company and is currently acting as its president.

Melissa Merlot

MMHeadshotWinner of the 2013 Salt Lake City Weekly Arty Award for Best Stand-Up Comic Melissa Merlot has been doomed for a life of comedy ever since she was little and would hide chocolate donuts in the display toilets at the hardware store. Growing up in Utah as the only redhead and only non-Mormon in her school she learned early on what it is like to be an outcast. Being an outcast taught her how to observe others and how to relate to them to try and understand. There are still many things she does not understand about her fellow humans and those things are the basis for her social commentary style of comedy.

Melissa Merlot is the host of The Dating Apocalypse on 801FM every Friday morning.





Robert Easton

Ultimate-Bob-at-workAfter figuring out at a young age that he wasn’t imbued with the powers of a radioactive spider or the all-powerful surviving member of a fallen alien race, Robert aka Bob aka Ultimate Bob aka “that guy over there” decided to focus all his energies on growing up and becoming President of the United States. In the sixth grade he was elected President of his elementary school and that was enough office holding for him. Next he wanted to become a famous movie actor but discovered you have to be handsome and talented and not afraid of casting couch shenanigans to make that happen, so he moved on from that dream too. Now Bob is content being a podcast contributor for both Hold 322 (for which he also blogs) and the Left Show, while he pursues his permanent goal of becoming a successful (someday paid) writer. He has a slew of novels, plays, film scripts and other writing projects in the works at all times.

Back in 2005 Bob also founded and still runs a community theatre group called the Around the Globe Theatre Company which performs plays around the Salt Lake area whenever opportunity and finances allow. Also known as ATG, the company has even produced an original play written by Bob, inspired by his life experiences, especially with romance and the lady folk, called Bob Juan Casanova.

Bob’s passion for a fairer, more progressive America and world is almost equaled by his lifelong love of comic books; an addiction that started at a very young age when Bob was introduced to the sequential art form by his father who had a large collection of them (mostly DC but also some Marvel, like Spider-Man) for him to read. Bob buys close to twenty new comics every month and hopes to one day get paid to write some himself. He is grateful to be able to talk about comic books every week with JC, Jeff and Thom and is glad you chose to listen in when he does.

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