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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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.

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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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State officials have touted the so-called Texas “miracle” economy and its boost in oil and gas and construction.

The Texas Tribune investigative series "Hurting For Work" found little protection for workers in those industries because of lax regulation. For instance, the lead author of the series, Jay Root, says Texas is the only state that allows employers to opt out of providing workers’ compensation coverage.

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It’s natural to sweat more in summer, but also dangerous if you’re not careful. In this edition of KERA's consumer health series, Vital Signs, Dr. Alexander Eastman, Interim Medical Director of Trauma at Parkland Hospital,  explains how to guard against dehydration.

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Heart failure is the focus of this week’s Vital Signs -- the heart’s inability to effectively pump blood to the rest of the body, especially out of the lungs.

The Centers for Disease Control says about 5 million people in the U.S. have heart failure, and about half who develop it will die within five years of diagnosis.

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They’ve been linked to the death of a teenager in Frisco last year, and to dozens of recent overdoses in the Dallas area. In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Brett Roth of the North Texas Poison Center discusses two forms of synthetic drugs, the N-bomb (251 NBOMe) and he begins with a synthetic marijuana called K-2 or Spice.

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Dr. Glenn Hardesty, an emergency physician at Texas Health Arlington Hospital, says there are far more risks from consuming alcohol, but there can be a few benefits from moderate drinking.

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Some may be bored consuming it the old fashioned way. For others, it’s a calorie-conscious move. But whatever the reason,  there’s been a reported rise again in cases of “smoking alcohol.”

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A recent study found one of every two people over 30 in the U-S has some form of gum disease. The high prevalence of it has prompted the American Academy of Periodontology to launch Love The Gums You’re With  – a campaign to stress the importance of caring for your gums. Dr. Patricia Blanton, a periodontist and Professor Emeritus a Baylor College of Dentistry, explains the risks of gum disease in this edition of Vital Signs.

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The Obama administration says about eight million people have signed up for the Affordable Care Act through online exchanges – not counting those who bought plans “off-exchange” through insurance carriers. That’s a lot of people who will need to choose a primary care physician.

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It’s a contagious viral lung infection that strikes nearly half of all children under two. Bronchiolitis can vary from mild cases similar to a common cold to severe cases needing hospitalization. The latter cases prompted Children’s Medical Center to take part in a two year program to improves its treatment. Dr.Vineeta Mittal, a pediatric hospitalist at Children’s Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics with UT Southwestern Medical Center, explains in this edition of Vital Signs.

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Increased spring and summer time in the sun can be dangerous if you’re not careful. An estimated 77,000 Americans this year will be diagnosed with melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. About 10,000 will die. But the disease can be avoided.

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Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have targeted another possible way to control high blood sugar for the 25 million Americans with Type 2 Diabetes. The discovery occurred amid research into people born without fat, and why such people develop health problems associated with fat such as diabetes.

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A new campaign is underway to educate parents, caregivers and educators about the early warning signs of communication disorders.

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A study published in February of 90,000 women over 25 questions the value of mammography in detecting breast cancer. Among the findings:

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It can range from a dull, constant ache to acute pain that can last from a few days to a few weeks.  About eight in ten people, at some point in their lives, will experience some form of back pain.

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Knowing your family history can alert a doctor to potential problems like heart disease, for instance. But getting that information sometimes requires an extra step: genetic testing. In this week’s Vital Signs, Sam Baker talks with Sheryl Walker, a genetic counselor with Baylor Health Care’s Inherited Cardiovascular Disease Clinic.

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