Sam Baker | KERA News

Sam Baker

Senior Editor and Morning Edition Host

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.

Sam worked in commercial television at NBC and CBS affiliates for six years before moving to public broadcasting. He was news director and Morning Edition host at KWGS-FM in Tulsa, Okla., for three years and moved to KERA in 1991. He has served on the board of Public Radio News Directors Inc. and is a member of the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Communicators.

As a volunteer, Sam for seven years produced a weekly series, Jazz in Words and Music, for Reading and Radio Resources, an agency serving the visually impaired. He is also a former member on the board of Southwest Transplant Alliance, a private non-profit organization that provides organs and tissues for transplantation.

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Sepsis is the body's overwhelming response to infection. It's potentially life-threatening, and recently killed actress Patty Duke. More than 200-thousand cases of sepsis are reported each year, but you can survive it if it’s caught early. 

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In our series, "Vital Signs,"  living with artificial devices like stents, valves and grafts intended to improve blood flow to the heart. Doctors in the U.S. insert the devices in about a million procedures each year. But after that, the work falls to the patient.

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Sold over-the-counter, activated charcoal can be beneficial when used by a medical professional. But some people use it on their own for such things as high cholesterol, hangovers or stomach pain at serious risk to their health.

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Lactose Intolerance is a common problem - about 65 percent of the human population has it. And while it can’t be cured, it’s rarely dangerous and you can manage lactose intolerance.

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State regulators have to decide whether control of Texas power lines can change hands. At issue is whether an investment group led by Dallas businessman Ray Hunt gets to buy Oncor. The company connects power plants with the companies you pay for electricity.

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Head lice is a common problem among kids.  The CDC estimates the parasitic insects infest between six and 12-million children, ages three to 11, each year.  But Texas and at least 24 other states have reported cases of so-called super lice, which are harder to eliminate.

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At least two North Texans ended up in the hospital after using a synthetic opioid called U-47700 at a recent party. One is in ICU. Other cases involving the drug across the country led to deaths. 

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Photographing yourself with a smartphone seems harmless. But a man in Washington state died February 28 after accidentally shooting himself in the face while posing with a gun. And at least 49 others here and abroad have died from selfie-related accidents.

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Congenital heart disease is a structural defect in the heart that occurs at birth. Advancements in medicine have made it possible for more people with the disease to survive into adulthood.  But few of those adult survivors get the specialized care they still need.

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Most cases of colon cancer occur in people over 50 - about the time recommended to begin screening for the disease.  But results of research over 15 years found an increase in colon cancer in those younger than 50.

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Jeb Bush isn’t expected to win the Republican primary in South Carolina, but where the former Florida governor finishes might impact the major donor support he’s had in Texas.

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Atrial fibrillation, a irregular heartbeat, affected more than 33-million people globally in 2010.

A new study says atrial fibrillation appears to be a stronger risk factor for heart disease and death in women than in men.

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The term "broken heart" is usually just a figure of speech. However, the emotional pain or loss involved can contribute to a potentially serious physical condition called Broken Heart Syndrome.

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Lead contamination caused a crisis with the water supply in Flint, Michigan. But the CDC says at least 4 million households have children living in them that are being exposed to high levels of lead.

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At some point, many of us will have a case of heartburn that can be easily fixed. However, Dr. Christian Mayorga of Parkland Hospital and UT Southwestern Medical Center explains why heartburn is not always something to take lightly. 

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KERA examines common health issues in our series Vital Signs.

In this edition, a problem common to many – weight gain. A possible solution may lie in how much you sleep. 

Dr. Ryan Hays, Director of Sleep Medicine at Parkland Hospital System and Assistant Professor of Neurology & Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern Medical Center, explains how one affects the other.

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Although nearly four million people a year sustain concussions, there’s still a lot doctors don't know about them, including Dr. Munro Cullum.  The neuropsychologist is one of the researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center leading a study of several hundred people to eventually come up with better treatment for concussion. 

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Many often associate concussion with contact sports like football. But Dr. Benjamin Newman, a neurosurgeon with Methodist Health System, says a blow to the head in almost any activity can lead to a concussion - even kids riding those new bikes they got for Christmas.

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Some good news for coffee drinkers.

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Choosing-poorly designed toys or toys that aren’t age-appropriate for your child can lead to more harm than fun.  

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As we near primaries to narrow down choices for president, the Pew Research Center and the National Conference of State Legislatures has released a study of who has been elected to statehouses. 

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KERA looks at real-life health issues in our series, Vital Signs. In this edition: all that rich or sweet food we tend eat more of at holiday time.

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A recent study found diverticulitis has been on the rise in this country since the late 1990s. It now accounts for about 300,000 admissions each year for inpatient care.

Dr. Christian Mayorga, a gastroenterologist with Parkland Hospital System, explains this colon problem that can cause pain, obstruction and fever. 

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Dr. Donna Persaud, ​chief of Pediatric Community Medicine at Parkland Hospital System, talks about potential problems from the types of soap we use – especially anti-bacterial soap.

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We examine real-life health issues in our series, Vital Signs. In this episode, dementia.

Actor and comedian Robin Williams was being treated for Parkinson’s Disease when he committed suicide in 2014, but the autopsy showed signs of Lewy Body Dementia.

Dr. Angela Bentle, a geriatrics specialist at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, talked about the often misdiagnosed disorder.

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An agency within the World Health Organization recently concluded eating processed or cured meats like bacon or hot dogs – as well as red meat – can lead to colon cancer.

The Director of the Master of Clinical Nutrition--Coordinated Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center says not quite. Dr. Jo Ann Carson has researched ties between food and cancer for decades. In this edition of "Vital Signs," she explains why the report did not surprise her.

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Manufacturers say the flu vaccine for this season is much more effective than last year’s. However, two new studies suggest flu vaccines in general may not work as well if you take statins.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UT Southwestern Medical Center, says the studies aren't definitive, but the results are provocative.

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KERA's series, One Crisis Away, looks at life for people on the financial edge. In this edition, why some people feel they can’t get away from the edge even as the economy is recovering.

Sam Baker talked with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about the survey the show did to find out.

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According to the American Diabetes Association, studies show people with diabetes have a greater risk of depression than those without.  

Dr. Rhonda Goen, a psychiatrist with Parkland Hospital System, explains.

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Fans of red and green chili peppers rejoice. The taste and heat you savor also comes with some health benefits.  Sharon Cox, a dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, has some details.

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