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

Todd Wiseman / The Texas Tribune

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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Stroke has a large negative impact on society, with women disproportionately affected. An estimated 6.8 million people in the United States are living after having had a stroke, including 3.8 million women and three million men. Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death for men, but the third leading cause for women. So says the American Heart Association this month in its newly released guidelines for prevention of stroke in women.

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As with dieters in general, it’s not uncommon for people who undergo weight loss surgery to gain back the pounds they lost. In the search for a reason why, a study from U-T Southwestern Medical Center found that even after three months of nutritional counseling, many patients failed to follow guidelines after surgery. Dr. Abhimanyu Garg explains in the week’s Vital Signs.

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A UT Southwestern Medical Center study may have uncovered a possible contributor to Alzheimer’s Disease: DDT. The U-S banned the pesticide more than 40 years ago, but a by-product of it called DDE showed up in blood samples of people with Alzheimer’s.

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If you’re buying chocolate for Valentine’s Day, keep in mind a study last year that found dark chocolate healthier than milk or white chocolate – sort of. Sharon Cox, a Registered Dietitian with Parkland Hospital, explains why in this week’s edition of Vital Signs.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended against doctors prescribing combination drugs with more than 325 milligrams of acetaminophen. That’s the pain reliever and fever reducer also used in many over-the-counter medications. Too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage.

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A recently-released study has eased fears about whether it’s safe for pregnant women to eat peanuts and tree nuts like walnuts, almonds and pecans. Dr. Sheri Puffer, an OB/GYN at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, discusses the results with KERA’s Sam Baker in this installment of Vital Signs.

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UT Southwestern Medical Center is taking part in clinical trials for treatment of alcohol hepatitis. Dr. Mack Mitchell, Vice Chairman and Professor of Internal Medicine, explains why in this week’s installment of KERA’s Vital Signs.

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Dehydration happens when your body doesn’t have enough water to replace what’s lost during the day. You might associate that more with activity and heat. But Dr. Alexander Eastman, Interim Trauma Medical Director at Parkland Hospital, explains in this week’s installment of Vital Signs how dehydration can be a serious problem in winter.

All the food preparation and consumption during the holidays unfortunately make a perfect opportunity for food poisoning if we’re not careful. In today’s installment of KERA’s Vital Signs, dietitian Emily Hein of the Heart Hospital Baylor Plano shares tips for food safety, beginning with one of the major sources of foodborne illness – cross contamination.

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Migraine headaches are severe enough to make you reach for anything that might bring relief. And that can lead to serious problems. The American Headache Society (AHS) recently issued recommendations of things NOT to do when diagnosing or treating migraines.

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New guidelines were released earlier this month on who should take statin drugs to reduce cholesterol. It turns out that those cholesterol numbers we’re so obsessed with may be less important than risk factors.

Amid controversy over the recommendations, we take a look at what statins are and how they work. In Vital Signs, KERA’s Sam Baker spoke with Dr. Roberto Wayhs, a cardiologist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center in Dallas.

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Research on Alzheimer’s Disease and its progression largely focuses on plaque buildup in the brain. But researchers at U-T Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian think they’ve hit on another possibility: The role the immune system may play in both Alzheimer’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Nancy Monson, an immunologist at UT Southwestern, explains in this week’s edition of KERA’s Vital Signs.

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In this installment of KERA’s Vital Signs, we revisit the subject of stroke. A study last month in the Lancet pointed to an increase in stroke among younger adults. Dr. Ben Newman, an endovascular neurosurgeon at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, talked with Sam Baker about who’s affected and why.

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In this week’s installment of Vital Signs, a new study challenging the idea of simply staying active and engaged to keep aging minds sharp. Researchers at U-T Dallas found activities like reading, socializing or word games aren’t enough. Learning new, mentally challenging skills produced more benefit.

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Numerous stories on the subject mostly focus on women. Men also get breast cancer, but their lack of awareness about that often has serious consequences. Dr. Roshni Rao of UT Southwestern Medical Center talked (with KERA’s Sam Baker) about male breast cancer in this installment of Vital Signs.

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