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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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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What kids eat before school can greatly impact how they perform in the classroom.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Navin Hariprasad, a nutritionist and Operations Manager of Patient Food Services at Parkland Hospital, explains the difference a healthy breakfast and a balanced diet throughout the day can make.

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Not all products labeled as “gluten-free” or some variation of it were actually free of the protein that can cause life-threatening illness in millions of Americans.

The Texas Tribune

Gov. Rick Perry still plans to meet with Republican activists in New Hampshire this weekend.  That’s as his lawyers meet with prosecutors about his indictment on two felony counts in his home state.

Sam Baker talks about the case with Ross Ramsey of The Texas Tribune.

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The Food and Drug Administration is issuing new recommendations about pregnant women and fish: Eat more of it. Most types are fine, save for a few. 

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Sheri Puffer, an OB-GYN at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, says the new recommendations eliminate a source of concern for pregnant women.

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A report out this year found the number of women-owned businesses has increased at one and a half times the national average between 1997 and 2014. During that time, Texas saw a 98% percent growth in women-owned businesses – the second highest in the nation behind Georgia.

Michael Cox, the current director of SMU’s O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom and a former chief economist for the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, says some of what fueled growth for women applied to business owners across the board.

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Summer usually brings a peak in cases of hand, foot and mouth disease – a contagious, viral illness affecting mostly small children.

Dr. Barbara Durso is a pediatrician with Parkland Hospital System. In this edition of Vital Signs, she tells KERA’s Sam Baker most cases of hand, foot and mouth aren’t serious, but they can cause discomfort.

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Of the five million people diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, as many as five percent were diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60. It’s called early-onset (or younger-onset) Alzheimer's. Dr. Bassem Elsawy, a geriatrics expert with Methodist Charlton Medical Center, explains in this edition of KERA’s weekly consumer health series, Vital Signs.

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In this edition of Vital Signs, treating depression in children and adolescents. A study at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children’s Medical Center of Dallas indicates cognitive behavioral therapy combined with medication can improve the long-term success of treatment. Dr. Betsy Kennard, who's with both institutions, is lead author of the study. 

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In this edition of Vital Signs, the rare occurrence of drowning after you’ve left the water. Dry drowning and wet or secondary drowning can be fatal if left unattended -- and the latter can go unnoticed for several hours before symptoms appear.

Dr. Glenn Hardesty, an emergency physician at Texas Health Arlington Hospital, explains.

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