Eric Aasen | KERA News

Eric Aasen

Managing Editor

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

In 2015, Eric was part of a KERA team that won a national Online Journalism Award. In 2017, KERA earned a station-record eight regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including Overall Excellence. Also in 2017, KERA was nominated for a national Online Journalism Award for the station's coverage of the deadly Dallas police shooting.

Eric joined KERA in 2013 after 11 years as a reporter at The Dallas Morning News. His subjects ranged from the fiery demise of Big Tex (the iconic State Fair of Texas cowboy), to a friendly goose who helped children cross a busy street to school. He’s won numerous awards, including honors from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors for his feature writing and breaking news reporting.

A Minnesota native, Eric has wanted to be a journalist since he was in the third grade. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from DePauw University in Indiana, where he earned a political science degree and served as editor-in-chief of The DePauw student newspaper.

Eric and his wife, who’s also a journalist, have a daughter and son.

Ways to Connect

Dallas ISD trustees will probably hand down a combination of punishments to Superintendent Mike Miles, who was found in an investigation to have violated district policy and his contract, The Dallas Morning News is reporting. Trustees meet this evening. The News reports that a majority of trustees are leaning toward three disciplinary actions -- reprimand, putting him on a performance improvement plan or a forfeiture of a clause in his contract that allows for a one-year extension if he receives a "proficient" performance evaluation.

Wendy Davis campaign / KERA News

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Looks like Wendy Davis will run, creationists are helping choose Texas biology textbooks, look at Dallas from high above, and more:

Texas Monthly visited Buc-ee's in New Braunfels, known for its superior bathrooms. “People will hold it so they can go here,” said 21-year-old Texas State University student Scott Sommerlatte, one of the five maintenance “associates” in red shirts and khaki pants who man the restroom 24/7.

Eric Aasen / KERA News

While most of the attention today is on the new Big Tex, his home at Big Tex Circle has received significant upgrades. The State Fair of Texas spent about $600,000 on foundation improvements to support the new guy, as well as on beautification at Big Tex Circle.

BJ Austin / KERA News

Eric Aasen, KERA’s new digital news editor, spent five years covering the State Fair for The Dallas Morning News – and, for the past year, he had exclusive access to Big Tex’s reconstruction. His series of stories about the process started in the Morning News today and will run through the weekend.

Our definitive Big Texpert has rounded up a few key facts about the towering cowboy:

Eric Aasen / KERA News/Dallas Morning News

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the rebuilding of Big Tex, Wendy Davis plans to run for Texas governor, Julián Castro doesn't plan to run for vice president, and more.

BJ Austin / KERA News

When it comes to Big Tex, all secrets can now be revealed.

R. Eddy Snell and Karen L. Miller have had to keep a big secret for the past year – perhaps the biggest secret in the state of Texas. The State Fair of Texas hired them and their group, SRO Associates, to create the new Big Tex. 

SRO is a production company near San Antonio. The company has built sets and created entertainment for several theme parks across the country, including SeaWorld, Six Flags and Hershey Park. But SRO got a lot of help from San Antonio-based Texas Scenic Company to build his interior steel structure, as well as program his movements.

BJ Austin / KERA News

Big Tex is back.

Tex, the folksy cowboy who burned down last fall at the State Fair of Texas, was unveiled prematurely Thursday, a day earlier than planned.

He’s brand new from head to toe, showing off a bright white shirt and fancy boots that show off bluebonnets and other classic Texas scenes.

Wendy Davis campaign / KERA News

She’s in.

Texas Sen. Wendy Davis plans to run for governor. That’s according to The Associated Press, citing sources familiar with her plans.

There’s been plenty of speculation in recent weeks.

Courtney Collins / KERA News

Julián Castro, the San Antonio mayor who surged onto the national stage at last year's Democratic Convention, tells KERA he'll stay in his current job for four more years. But if Hillary Clinton comes calling, he's got a suggested running mate: his identical twin brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro. 

Julián Castro sat down today with Rick Holter, KERA’s vice president of news. Castro is the first guest in the new KERA series “The Friday Conversation,”  to air Fridays during Morning Edition and All Things Considered on KERA 90.1 FM.

BJ Austin / KERA News

Update 5:55 p.m.: State Fair of Texas organizers had long been concerned about weather conditions and how that might impact Big Tex's debut. While Big Tex has been built to withstand hurricane-force winds, the curtain that shielded him from public view was causing problems. Fair officials didn't want to risk any issues with their new cowboy.

1:46 p.m. The Big Tex boots, sponsored by Lucchese, include the Texas flag, bluebonnets and Texas State Capitol. These are intricate, fancy boots.

1:39 p.m. Big Tex has made his debut -- a patriotic outfit with a mostly-white shirt. The curtain was dropped minutes ago.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

In just a few days, Texans will be able to start going online to check out health insurance options as part of the Affordable Care Act. And today an all-star cast headlined by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius came to Dallas to pitch the new marketplace. 


Five stories that have North Texas talking: The invasion of the spider webs, Ted Cruz's talkathon vs. Wendy Davis filibuster, Big Tex as a work of art, and more.

There were countless reports of silky spider webs across Dallas-Fort Worth this morning. Spiders are attempting to make their annual move for the fall — baby spiders in particular, The Dallas Morning News reports.

In San Patricio County, a game warden received a call about someone keeping a family of deer as pets, while in Henderson County, a man accidentally shot a deer out of season, claiming to have mistaken the animal for a dog. StateImpact Texas took a look through the Game Warden Field Notes from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

CBS News via UStream

Update, 12:03 p.m: Sen. Ted Cruz has ended a marathon Senate speech opposing President Barack Obama's health care law after talking for 21 hours, 19 minutes.
The Texas Republican and tea party conservative stopped speaking at 11 a.m. Dallas time Wednesday, sitting down to yield the floor, The Associated Press is reporting. The Texas freshman began talking Tuesday afternoon, seeking to urge defunding of the 3-year-old health system overhaul. Fellow conservatives helped by making occasional remarks.


Big Tex, the beloved State Fair of Texas icon, returns to Fair Park on Friday. (If you’ve been under a rock lately, the big guy burned down last October in spectacular fashion, attracting national headlines.)

Before Big Tex makes his triumphant return, we’re offering a daily online look at All Things Big Tex until Friday.

In today's edition of Big Tex 101, we take a look at some odd odds and ends.

Let’s admit it: Big Tex is an odd duck. He has a colorful history, too. Let’s take a look back at some of the more unusual things that have happened to him.

CBS News via UStream

Five stories that have North Texas talking: A bedtime story from Ted Cruz, classical music groups love the Dallas City Performance Hall, should Big Tex be burned down every year?, and more.

Marianna Taschinger, who lives in Groves, Tex., near Beaumont, is suing her ex-boyfriend for posting nude images of her on a website that features so-called "revenge porn." Police say there is little they can do. Lawmakers in California passed the first law aimed at revenge porn sites, The New York Times reports.

Update, 12:50 p.m. Tuesday: Authorities say a North Texas woman was responsible for a murder-suicide in which she fatally shot her husband and three sons before killing herself.
The Navarro County Sheriff's Office said this morning that 33-year-old Guadalupe Ronquillo-Ovalle shot her husband Israel Alvarez, as well as their three sons, ages 4, 8 and 10, The Associated Press is reporting. Then Ronquillo-Ovalle shot herself in the head.

Blame sequestration in part for Monday's layoffs, Bell's president said in a statement. Bell Helicopter makes the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, which takes off like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Marco Becerra/mabecerra / Flickr

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Big-screen video boards get even bigger, Texas packs a deadly punch, watch homemade planes crash into the water, and more.


Big Tex, the beloved State Fair of Texas icon, returns to Fair Park on Friday. (If you’ve been under a rock lately, the big guy burned down last October in spectacular fashion, attracting national headlines.)

Before Big Tex makes his triumphant return, we’re offering a daily online look at All Things Big Tex until Friday.

In today's edition of Big Tex 101, we take a look at Big Tex, the fashion icon.

informedmindstravel / Flickr

Prada Marfa might be doomed. No, there's no fancy store in Marfa. Instead, it's a roadside advertisement -- and Texas officials say it's illegal.

State transportation officials are pondering what to do about the iconic structure in West Texas, The Associated Press is reporting. Blame it on the Playboy bunny.

Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project said that among the six states with the largest numbers of immigrants here illegally, only Texas had a consistent increase in illegal immigration from 2007 to 2011. That's due in part to the state's stronger economy. Its number was unchanged from 2011 to 2012.

Dallas Zoo

For years, the Dallas Zoo has tried to play matchmaker with Patrick the gorilla.

But Patrick won’t be anyone’s close friend.

So the Western lowland gorilla is moving on to a new home in South Carolina.

Patrick has spent the past 18 years at the Dallas Zoo, but he doesn’t socialize. He prefers being by himself, zoo officials say.

While checking on her friends and family in Kenya on Facebook, Esther Kanyua, a Southern Methodist University graduate student, learned that her friend from high school was one of the victims in the shooting, KTVT reports.

West Texas is awash in oil money, but not everyone benefits, according to StateImpact, an NPR project with KUT Radio in Austin.

Besides Wendy Davis, who else might be on the Democratic ticket in Texas next year? The Texas Tribune reports that party leaders have talked to candidates who might fill out the ballot behind her, including Leticia Van de Putte.


Five stories that have North Texas talking: Texas is a hotbed for UFO sightings,  the Dallas mayor apologizes for a 40-year-old killing, VideoFest is just a couple weeks away, and more.