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

Anne Weston, LRI, CRUK

Cancer of the pancreas – an organ that lies behind the lower part of your stomach - accounts for only two percent of cancers diagnosed in the U.S. each year. But it’s the fifth-leading cause of cancer deaths in this country. 

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The World Health Organization lists glaucoma as the second leading cause of blindness in the world. It’s estimated more than two million Americans have the disease, but only half know it. No one’s certain exactly what causes the damage to the optic nerve that results in glaucoma, but in this edition of KERA's consumer health series, Vital Signs, Dr. Roger Velasquez, an opthalmologist with Parkland Hospital System in Dallas says there are certain risk factors to watch out for.

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Amid high flu activity in North Texas, health officials also are tracking respiratory syncytial (sinSISHuhl) virus. In this edition of KERA's consumer health series Vital Signs, Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, explains why he calls RSV “probably the most important respiratory virus that most people have never heard of.”

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Flu activity remains high in North Texas.  Dallas County has reported five flu-related deaths this season. There have been two in Tarrant County.

With Texas and 45 other states reporting widespread flu activity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a flu epidemic. Part of the blame goes to the current flu vaccine. It's less effective against Influenza A or H3N2 - the more severe strain causing the majority of cases.

However, Dr. Glenn Hardesty says get the shot, if you haven’t already. The emergency room physician at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital talked about the vaccine and the flu season in this edition of KERA’s consumer health series, Vital Signs. 

Bill Zeeble

Falling gasoline prices have not affected bus service operations in Dallas and Fort Worth. The T and DART buses use compressed natural gas (CNG). But low prices have been bad news for light rail service in the past. Not so this time around.

Morgan Lyons, vice president of communications for Dallas Area Rapid Transit, explains.

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Dr. Daralie Wilkerson, a podiatrist at Parkland Hospital says we don't stop to think about the long hours we spend on our feet during our normal daily routine - not to mention all those activities over the holidays like shopping, parties and extra cooking. Skin problems from winter weather don't help either.

Dr. Willkerson shares some tip to better care for your feet in this edition of Vital Signs. She begins with the crucial step of choosing the right shoe.

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No one’s sure why. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found annual rates of shingles have been on the rise in the U-S. It’s a highly uncomfortable disease that strikes adults who’ve already had chickenpox.

Dr. Brian Jones, a family health physician with Methodist Family Health Center in Cedar Hill, talked about shingles in this edition of Vital Signs.

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A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found women ages 40 to 59 have the highest rate of depression of any group based on age or gender.

Dr. Quazi Imam is medical director of the Texas Health Behavioral Health Center at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital. He talked about some of factors behind the findings in this edition of Vital Signs.

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Researchers have found people diagnosed with diabetes in their 50s are significantly more likely than others to suffer mental decline by their 70s.

In this week’s Vital Signs, Dr. Angela Bentle, a geriatrics and internal medicine specialist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, explains why this seems to occur in middle age than with younger people.

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A recent survey for the American Heart Association found 40 percent of more than 5,100 calls to poison centers for "energy drink exposure" involved children under the age of six. Consuming the drinks at that age can have serious consequences. 

In this edition of Vital Signs, Mike Yudizky, Public Health Education Manager of the North Texas Poison Center, says the problem is the high amount of caffeine.

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The state moves forward today on a project to improve mental health services for veterans.

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In this edition of Vital Signs – beer. It has health benefits, provided you don’t drink too much of it. Navin Hariprasad, a dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, has details.

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While we all look forward to the holiday feast, people living with diabetes have to exercise caution. In this week’s Vital Signs, Sharon Cox, a dietitian with Parkland Hospital System, talks about ways to keep blood sugar levels stable.

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They need insulin to survive, but some Type 1 diabetics will take less or none at all to avoid weight gain.

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When faced with a financial emergency, some turn to payday or car title lenders. There’s about 175 of them in Dallas offering quick cash at great cost. The city and an Austin-based lender to small businesses have announced an alternative.

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One factor contributing to obesity and diseases like diabetes is portion distortion. The belief that the larger portions on today’s menus and shelves are normal and the size we should always consume.

In this edition of Vital Signs, dietitian Jamie Bass, a dietitian with Texas Health Harris Methodist Southwest Fort Worth explains the difference.

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It’s common for the elderly to experience aortic stenosis, a hardening or narrowing of the aortic heart valve.

Open heart surgery’s the standard way to replace or repair the valve, but a less invasive procedure called transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR) is now available – an alternative that’s much easier on the elderly.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Sarah Gualano, an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Medical Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, explains how TAVR works.

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A study out of Britain offers a new way to measure chances of developing breast cancer: skirt size.

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As local officials try to contain Ebola in Dallas, another virus has swept much of the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or state labs have confirmed nearly 800 cases of Enterovirus D-68, most of them in children.

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The medical director of disaster preparedness for Dallas County's public hospital system says staff members were disheartened to learn of a second nurse with Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas contracting Ebola.

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Many use artificial sweeteners to avoid weight gain or to fight diabetes. But new research suggests the opposite effect.  

A study published in the journal Nature shows the impact of artificial sweeteners on gut bacteria can raise blood sugar levels and contribute to obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Luis Meneghini heads the Global Diabetes Program for Parkland Hospital System. In this edition of Vital Signs, he talked about the potential of the results.

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Drugs like Vicodin and Lortab containing hydrocodone and other ingredients, like acetaminophen or Tylenol, are the most commonly prescribed medications in the country. But they're now harder to get. In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Brett Johnson of Methodist Charlton Medical Center explains how these pain-fighting drugs have been reclassified to help reduce abuse.

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Along with the news of the Duchess of Cambridge expecting her second child came word of another bout of severe morning sickness. 75-percent of pregnant women experience some form of nausea and/or vomiting in the first trimester, likely related to hormonal change from pregnancy. In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. David Nelson, an OB/GYN at Parkland Hospital, explains the former Kate Middleton’s situation isn’t unusual.

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While most healthcare-associated infections are on the decline, the Centers for Disease Control reports one remains at high levels. It’s called clostridium difficile. What most people refer to as C.difficile or C.diff causes an infectious diarrhea linked to 14,000 American deaths each year.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Pranavi Sreeramajou, Chief of Infection Prevention at Parkland Hospital, says awareness is key to fighting C.diff.

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The general consensus is the more you exercise, the better off your heart is. But do the benefits change depending on how often you exercise a week? Researchers with Fort Worth’s John Peter Smith hospital wanted to find out.

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You’re short of breath after a flight of stairs or other daily activities. It might be fatigue, lack of exercise – or maybe COPD.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a group name for lung diseases like chronic bronchitis and emphysema that block airflow and make breathing difficult. It’s also a condition the Affordable Care Act’s keeping closer tabs on beginning next month. 

In this edition of Vital Signs, Tom Kallstrom, CEO of the American Association for Respiratory Care, explains more about COPD.

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In a new memoir, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis revealed she terminated two pregnancies. One, in 1996, involved a fetus that had developed a severe brain abnormality. The other was what is known as an ectopic pregnancy.

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Despite prenatal care, around five percent of women will develop diabetes during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is a temporary, but potentially serious problem.  

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Brian Casey, an obstetrician with Parkland Hospital, explains gestational diabetes is part of the physiology of pregnancy.

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Three important words when taking medication: Read the label.  Not only for how much to take or when, but also the warnings about what you can eat or drink. Failure to follow that advice can make the drug less effective and cause other physical problems.  

In this edition of KERA's weekly consumer health series Vital Signs, David Adams, an ambulatory clinical staff pharmacist with Parkland Hospital, explained some of the most common food and drug interactions.

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For those who suffer frequent back pain, it was a promise of relief.  Dallas-based North American Spine spent years building a business with a procedure called AccuraScope. Some swear by it. But others had disastrous results. Doug Swanson, an investigative reporter for the Dallas Morning News, spent months investigating North American Spine and talks about what he learned.

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