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.

Ways to Connect

Texas Tribune

Rick Perry is still on the campaign trail amid financial problems. Low fundraising has left the former governor unable to pay his staff, although his campaign manager says only one staff member has left, so far.

Abby Livingston is Washington Bureau Chief for the Texas Tribune. She says  Perry ran into two major problems.

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In this segment of Vital Signs, some new hope for patients with vitiligo. It's an auto-immune disease that causes you to lose color in your skin. Vitiligo isn't life-threatening for the two million people in the U-S who have it, but it can be very stressful.

Dr. Amit Pandya, a professor of Dermatology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, talked about vitiligo and a treatment he’s refined to restore the discoloration.

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The medical journal Pediatrics recently published study results on a new tool developed to help doctors identify children under two with abusive head trauma. Some call it shaken baby syndrome.

Dr. Glenn Hardesty has witnessed such cases as an emergency room physician at Texas Health Arlington Memorial. He explained the medical and legal reasons for the new tool.

hightimes.com

Many just roll up pot and light a match. But  a growing  number of people are going to dangerous lengths to get a greater buzz.  It involves extracting the active ingredient from marijuana and turning it into a wax-like substance. You then heat a small bit or “dab” of it and inhale the vapor.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Ashley Haynes of the North Texas Poison Center explained to why pot dabbing is a bad idea.

Flickr.com

 The drought’s over for now, but not statewide needs for more water. The Texas Water Development Board votes Thursday (7/23) on loans for projects that address future needs in the state’s water plan. Nine of the 21 applications came from North Texas.

Jeff Walker, Deputy Executive Administrator for the Water Supply and Infrastructure Division of the Texas Water Development Board, says the North Texas projects range from a six-figure wastewater system improvement to a $440 million pipeline project.

www.bbc.co.uk

In this edition of Vital Signs, a growing trend in social media called sunburn art: Using various materials and deliberate overexposure in the sun to create patterns on the body.

Dr. Travis Vandergriff is an attending Dermatologist with Parkland Hospital System and an Assistant Professor in the Dermatology department of UT Southwestern Medical Center. He explained how sunburn art works and why he considers it dangerous.

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In this edition of the KERA series, Vital Signs, the risk of drowning in portable pools.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission has estimated one death every five days during warm weather months occurs in portable pools - from above-ground types to the small inflatable or "kiddie" pools.

Shelli Stephens-Stidham, Director of the Injury Prevention Center of Greater Dallas at Parkland Hospital System, talks about what leads to such incidents.

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State health officials have reported dozens of cases statewide this summer of stomach-related illnesses from cyclospora, a parasite. Several of those cases have been in North Texas.

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Hospital stays can be stressful for anyone. Worse, though, for about seven million patients each year who suffer from delirium. It’s a sudden state of confusion that can last from hours to days and well after release.

Megan Wheeler, an adult clinical nurse specialist, has been involved in Baylor Scott White Health’s research on preventing delirium in elderly patients. She spoke with Sam Baker for our series, Vital Signs.

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Texans surveyed in a UT/Texas Tribune poll out this week agree discrimination’s a problem. But they disagree on who’s the target of it. People of color made the list, but James Henson, co-director of the poll and head of the Texas Politics Project at University of Texas at Austin, said some of the respondents believe whites are victims of discrimination.

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About 17,000 people are diagnosed with cancer that began in or next to the brain every year in the United States. These are called primary brain cancers.

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In our series about real life health, Vital Signs, another look at delayed cord clamping.

Many doctors believe waiting as long as two or three minutes before cutting the umbilical cord provides a newborn with extra blood that can prevent iron deficiency.  But a new study of four year olds who had delayed cord clamping found a slight improvement in boys of social and motor skills.  

KERA’s Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Sheri Puffer, an OB-GYN with Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital.

www.ibtimes.com

There have been at least two dozen deaths from recent flash flooding in Texas.

Some of those helping state teams search for flood victims work in UT-Southwestern’s emergency medicine department.

Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott got most of what he wanted out of his first legislative session as the state's chief executive.  However, not all Republicans share his enthusiasm.

Texas Tribune

State lawmakers can go into the final weekend stretch of their legislative session now that they’ve cleared a procedural deadline this week for considering bills.  

Ross Ramsey, executive editor of The Texas Tribune, talks about which bills did and did not make the cut.

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Last week's segment of our consumer health series, Vital Signs, told you about fragility fractures, and how they often can be a first sign of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis. Your diet can boost good bone health. 

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In our consumer health series, Vital Signs: Fragility fractures. Fall from a standing height or less and your body should be able to withstand it without fracturing a bone. When injury does occur, it may mean you have osteoporosis.

Texas Tribune

Republicans in the Texas House scrambled to get consideration of their bills by a midnight deadline. That’s as Democrats tried their best to run out the clock.

Sam Baker talked about this with Ross Ramsey, Executive Editor of the Texas Tribune. He explained why, for instance, a bill to prohibit use of state money to issue same-sex marriage licenses failed to make the cut.

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The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports a 49 percent increase between 2013 and last year in what’s known as vaginal rejuvenation surgery. It’s the subject of growing controversy.

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A large number of patients at Dallas County’s Parkland Hospital System have Type 2 Diabetes. Unlike Type 1, Type 2 Diabetes doesn’t require insulin injections – at least not right away – but it’s just as serious if it’s not managed properly.

Marcos Ronquillo Campaign

Voters in Dallas will decide between two candidates for mayor Saturday: Incumbent Mike Rawlings and challenger Marcos Ronquillo.

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The initial symptoms suggest just about anything, but they may be signs of an inflammatory disease many don’t know about. Sarcoidosis can affect multiple organs – most often lungs and lymph glands.

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Tylenol and other products containing acetaminophen are prescribed often for pain relief. But there’s been ongoing debate about whether it does anything for lower back pain. A recent study published in the British Medical Journal says no.

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The National Kidney Foundation says they send a half-million people to emergency rooms each year because of kidney stones - hard objects made from chemicals in the urine. They’re very small, but at a couple of centimeters or more, kidney stones can be quite painful. Dr. R. Carrington Mason, a urologist with Methodist Health System, explains what causes the pain.

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If you don’t manage it carefully, diabetes can lead to several complications, including damage to the eyes. The most common form is also is one of the leading causes of blindness among adults in the U-S.

In our consumer health series, Vital Signs, Dr. Noel Santini, chief of Adult Medicine for Parkland Hospital’s Community Medicine Division, explains why regular screenings are key to dealing with diabetic retinopathy.

Texas Tribune

After a marathon 17-hour debate, the Texas House gave tentative approval to its version of a new state budget this morning.

Texas Tribune executive editor Ross Ramsey tells KERA’s Sam Baker the $210-billion budget reflects a lot of Gov. Greg Abbott’s priorities.

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A new study suggests a vegetarian diet, or one based on vegetables and fish, could lower your chances of getting colon cancer. The study focused on 77,000 Seventh-Day Adventists. Dr. Ronney Stadler, a colorectal surgeon with Baylor Medical Center in Irving, explains for KERA's consumer health series, Vital Signs. 

iba-worldwide.com

Beginning late 2015, North Texas cancer patients won’t have to leave town to get proton beam therapy. It’s an advanced form of radiation treatment using energized particles or protons to destroy cancerous cells.

Dr. Andrew Lee is medical director of The Texas Center for Proton Therapy. He launched a similar operation at M-D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Dr. Lee talked about proton therapy for our consumer health series Vital Signs.

Marcia Cirillo / Flickr

North Texas drivers are intimately familiar with accidents slowing down the morning commute. However, Tuesday's accident on Interstate 35E was unusual.

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Google "coconut oil" and you’ll see this popular product touted for a range of uses: from cooking to its use as a health food to treat a variety of illnesses. But does coconut oil live up to those claims? 

Sharon Cox, a dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, talks about this in our consumer health series, Vital Signs.

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