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

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It’s estimated about one in two women over the age of 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis – or low bone density. But it’s not just an older woman’s disease. About one in four men over 50 will meet the same fate. And the disease isn’t limited to older people. KERA’s Sam Baker talked with Dr. Joseph Borrelli of Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital about how osteoporosis works in this edition of Vital Signs.

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Recent reports of a so-called "sex superbug" - a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea - reaching the U.S. turned out to be false. The H041 strain hasn’t been detected since a case in Japan several years ago. But even though gonorrhea can be cured with antibiotics, the health community remains concerned about the threat of drug-resistant strains of the sexually transmitted disease. Dr. Cedric Spak, with North Texas Infectious Diseases Consultants and Baylor Medical Center Dallas, explains why in this week’s edition of Vital Signs.

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When medication fails to bring relief to people with chronic sinusitis, the alternative to open the flow of mucus is usually surgery. The traditional type calls for removing bone and tissue to clear sinuses. But there’s also the option of balloon sinuplasty. It’s similar to angioplasty used to open arteries. Dr. Kenny Iloabachie talked about the procedure with KERA’s Sam Baker in this edition of Vital Signs.

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After finding mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus earlier than usual in at least two cities, Dallas County officials have begun urging outdoor use of mosquito repellent containing DEET. But what is DEET? And is there any reason to be concerned about using it any time we’re outdoors? Some answers in this edition of Vital Signs from David Jefferson, Tarrant County’s Environmental Health Manager.

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Be it professional or personal, we spend a lot time in front of computer screens. Too much time can lead to problems. In this edition of Vital Signs, computer vision syndrome or CVS. At least half of us using computers have experienced some form of it – just ask Dr. Edward Mendelson of UT Southwestern Medical Center.

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A recently published study suggests controlling or preventing risk factors like hypertension may limit or delay brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of age-related neurological deterioration. Dr. Karen Rodrigue of the UT Dallas Center for Vital Longevity talked about this in this edition of Vital Signs. She said the medical profession’s been exploring the idea of vascular dementia for decades.

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A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine points to a drop in heart disease for people on the Mediterranean Diet. In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Amit Khera, professor of cardiology and director of UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Preventive Cardiology Program, explained why the study’s significant.

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It’s estimated more than 159-thousand people will die of lung cancer in 2013. The National Lung Cancer Partnership has a announced a new goal to double the five-year survival rate of the disease by 2022. It’s currently 16 percent. Dr. Joan Schiller, chief of the Hematology and Oncology Department of  UT Southwestern Medical Center, is also President of the Partnership. In this week’s “Vital Signs”, Dr. Schiller explained why survival rates are so low.

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It’s one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., but colon cancer's highly preventable if caught early with screening. Yet, for whatever reason, many are apprehensive about colonoscopy - an exam of the colon and rectum. One alternative is virtual colonoscopy. It requires the same laxative and low residue diet beforehand as the conventional procedure. But in this week’s Vital Signs, Dr. Cecelia Brewington of UT Southwestern Medical Center says virtual colonoscopy is less invasive, faster and there’s no sedation.

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It’s been rare in Texas, but the latest so-called superbug resistant to antibiotics has hit more than 200 hospitals across the U-S in a six month period last year.  In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Bill Sutker, chief of infectious diseases of Baylor University Medical Center, explains why  CRE is part of a larger, growing problem.

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If you’re having trouble falling asleep at night, blue light from various sources – including electronic devices -- might be a problem. Studies suggest even low levels of blue light can delay secretions in the body of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep and wake cycles. In this edition of Vital Signs, the scoop on blue light from sleep specialist Dr. John Herman, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

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Aside from the expense and discomfort, the annoying part of getting a dental crown is the time involved – usually two separate visits to complete the process. Two different companies – one of them in North Texas – have created systems using 3D imaging to reduce the crown procedure to one visit total.

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A new government-funded study published in the online journal Neurology concluded the number of people in the U.S. with Alzheimer's Disease could almost triple by 2050 without some form of prevention or cure. In this week’s Vital Signs, Dr. Bassem Elsawy, a geriatric specialist at Methodist Charlton Medical Center, discusses the reasons why and whether society's prepared for the increase.

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An estimated one in five young people in the U.S. suffers from a diagnosable, treatable mental illness. Yet, most get little or no help because of we don’t recognize the signs and symptoms. Vanita Halliburton is working to change that through a foundation named after her son. She explained why and talked about the signs of mental illness in young people in this edition of “Vital Signs”.

Lupus: A Cruel Mystery

Feb 11, 2013
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Some call it the cruel mystery. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that can strike any part of the body, but the wide range of symptoms can be easily mistaken for something else. In this segment of KERA’s Vital Signs, Tessie Holloway, president of the Lupus Foundation of America’s North Texas chapter, discusses the disease and the need for greater awareness.

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Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer found  in various brand-name products you may have at home – Tylenol, NyQuil or prescription drugs like Vicodin or Percocet. But using too much acetaminophen – and some people do – can lead to liver damage. Dr. Shannan Tujios of  UT Southwestern Medical Center talks about the dangers in this week’s edition of “Vital Signs.”

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A health disparity from the 90s holds true: A recent study found African Americans are still at higher risk to die from a heart attack or heart failure than Whites. In this edition of “Vital Signs,” Dr. Tim Isaac, a cardiologist with Methodist Charlton Medical Center talked about the reasons why.

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It’s the fourth leading cause of death in the country behind heart disease, chronic lung disease and cancer. Stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. It’s sometimes called a brain attack, but stroke is often preventable. In this KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Dion Graybeal. He’s Medical Director of the Stroke Program at Baylor Medical Center.

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Tis the season for good cheer. But, for some, the holidays can bring about the opposite. In our KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talked with Dr. Randy Basham, an associate professor of social work at U.T. Arlington, about holiday depression and what can be done about it.

Dr. Basham: For the most part, around the holidays, people are concerned about a lot of things: End of the year, comparing themselves to where they were the year before. If they've had any loss in their life, it's become an anniversary season. There's commercialization.

The Food and Drug Administration requires makers of most prepared foods to list nutritional information on the package. In our KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talked to a registered dietician with U.T. Southwestern Medical Center about how to make sense of what's on the label. Lona Sandon begins with Percentages of Daily Value.

Dallas, TX –

Often during holiday periods, you'll hear more appeals for blood donations. People tend to get busier around this time, so fewer come in to give. But Dr. Jeanie Chiu of Carter Blood Care says the need for blood remains the same. She talked about this with Sam Baker in this KERA Health Checkup.

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In a recent report, the American Pediatrics Association and other medical groups advised cholesterol screening for all children nine to 11 years old. In our KERA Health Checkup, Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Jeff Schussler, a cardiologist with Baylor University Medical Center. He says some nine to 11 year old children already are being screened.

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