Jonathan Baker

News Curator

Jonathan Baker recently returned to the High Plains from New York City, where he was the assistant to the editor-in-chief at W. W. Norton & Co. At Norton, Baker worked with a wide variety of authors, including Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael Lewis and Larry McMurtry. During his time in publishing, Baker worked on books that were shortlisted for a National Book Award and a Booker Prize, and Norton was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in History.

A former professional comedian, Baker has performed all over the United States and appeared on NBC’s Last Comic Standing. He holds an undergraduate degree in English with a History minor from West Texas A&M University and a master’s degree in the humanities from the University of Chicago. At UChicago, Baker focused on American literature but studied a wide range of topics, from architectural history to 19th-century landscape painting to the history of the natural sciences. His master’s thesis was on glaciers and ice age theory in the Victorian Era.

When not curating stories for High Plains Public Radio, Baker writes advertisements for publications like Esquire and Car & Driver. He also writes crime novels. Baker just finished his fourth book, a murder story set on the barren Texas plains.

Baker is the father of a 12-year-old boy, Inigo. They live in Canyon, Texas, in a tiny wooden house, where they watch a lot of cheesy old horror movies.   

Public Domain via Pixabay

The cities of Amarillo and Canyon issued a joint press release Thursday announcing that gatherings of 10 or more people will not be allowed until further notice. In addition, area gyms must close, and local restaurants will not be allowed to offer dine-in options.

Eddie Gaspar / The Texas Tribune

From cross-border trade with Mexico to oil and gas exports, Texas could soon start feeling economic impacts as the virus spreads and affects global supply chains, trade experts say.

From The Texas Tribune:

Coronavirus in Texas

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Super Tuesday is upon us, and one Texas Panhandle race has drawn some national attention.

That's because President Donald Trump's former White House physician, Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, is running for the seat and has been endorsed by the President himself.

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Officials from the City of Amarillo have begun crafting a plan for what to do if the coronavirus makes an appearance in the city.

In an official press release Casie Stoughton, Amarillo Director of Public Health, said the city “is collaborating with the medical community, schools, and state and national health officials regarding the coronavirus.”

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Last week Amarillo's Westgate Mall was purchased by a group of New York investors. Like many indoor shopping malls across the country, Westgate Mall has struggled in recent years with the advent of online shopping.

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Xcel Energy has set a single-year record by cutting carbon emissions by over 10%.

According to a press release from the company, over the past 15 years, the energy giant has managed to slash its carbon emissions by 44%.

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XCel Energy says it plans to refund nearly $40 million to its Texas customers this June.

According to a press release from XCel spokesman Wes Reeves, the giveback is due to “a continued drop in prices for power plant fuel and the increased use of low-cost wind energy resources.”

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The Amarillo City Council has unanimously approved a bond that would allow city residents to decide the fate of a proposed $319 million project to expand and renovate the Amarillo Civic Center.

As the Globe-News noted this week, the plan would include a massive overhaul of the huge facility on Buchanan Street in downtown Amarillo.

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As part of its Distinguished Lecture series, West Texas A&M will welcome Temple Grandin to speak on both autism and animal science on Tuesday.

Dr. Grandin first gained prominence after publishing a scientific article in which she presented the idea that livestock are sensitive to small details within their environments—and that tailoring their environment to feel less threatening can improve the lives of livestock, and in turn improve the taste of beef and other meats.


If you’re single and you live on the High Plains, the state you live in may be having a big effect on your dating life.

The personal finance website Wallethub recently performed a study of the “Best and Worst States for Singles,” and the results for High Plains states were a mixed bag.

City of Amarillo

Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson announced on Thursday that she has been diagnosed with a form of blood cancer.

In a press release, Mayor Nelson wrote that the cancer was discovered during a routine blood examination.

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Football fans across West Texas will be watching the Super Bowl with interest this Sunday, as the Kansas City Chiefs' star quarterback Patrick Mahomes takes the field.

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The Texas Tech Board of Regents has set a $90 million-budget for the construction of the highly anticipated new veterinary school in Amarillo.

As the Amarillo Globe-News notes, construction began this month on the new Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine, to be located just north of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center on Coulter Street, across from Northwest Texas hospital.

Public Domain via Pixabay

The city of Amarillo made an appearance on the national stage on Tuesday, as the city was featured in The New York Times.

The nation’s most prominent newspaper published an article entitled, “Texas’ Governor Said No to Refugees. In Amarillo, They’re Saying Maybe.”

Brandi Reed

One of the most important and vital nonprofits in the Texas Panhandle was struck by tragedy this weekend.

Early Sunday morning, the downtown Amarillo headquarters of Family Support Services was consumed by fire. There were no injuries, as the building was unoccupied at the time.


It’s been 57 years since Dr. Martin Luther King first introduced his vision for a colorblind American society. In the intervening years, America has grown more integrated—but there’s still work to be done.

The personal finance website Wallethub has performed a study of which states are the most racially integrated between whites and blacks, and the results are a mixed bag for HPPR states.

A prominent West Texas restaurant chain has found itself in hot water.

According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor,  investigations by the agency have uncovered numerous overtime, minimum wage and child labor violations by the Plaza restaurant chain.

Public Domain via PxHere

By W. S. Merwin

With what stillness at last you appear in the valley

your first sunlight reaching down

to touch the tips of a few

high leaves that do not stir

Public Domain via Pixabay

New Year's Eve is upon us, and folks on the High Plains are gearing up to ring in 2020. But, this is also one of the most dangerous nights of the year as binge drinking and drunk driving have been rampant on New Year's across the country.

Here, courtesy of the Huffington Post, are some safety tips to ensure you have a pleasant night without going overboard.

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Oklahoma is the second most dangerous state to drive in on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, according to a recent study.

As KFOR reports, the Sooner State trails only Mississippi when it comes to per capita deaths on state highways during and after New Year's celebrations.

Public Domain via PxHere

In The Bleak Midwinter

by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan;
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Public Domain via Pixabay

When Charles Schwab recently announced its $26 billion mega-merger with TD Ameritrade, the company also announced that it will be relocating the massive company’s headquarters from San Francisco to North Texas.

Public Domain via Pixabay

The holidays are just around the corner, and for many of us that means it’s time to put up our Christmas and Hanukkah lights.

XCel energy put out a press release this week (see below) to remind High Plains families to be safe with their electricity—and to employ energy-saving LED holiday lighting when possible.


According to a recent study ranking America’s fattest state’s, some High Plains states may want to consider changing their eating habits.

The personal finance website Wallethub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 29 key metrics, from share of the population that is overweight, to adolescent sugary-beverage consumption, to obesity-related health care costs.

Erik (HASH) Hersman / Creative Commons

Election Day is Tuesday and aside from local offices, here are the items voters will decide on in the Kansas, Texas and Colorado elections. 

There are no elections in Oklahoma or Nebraska.

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The American Quarter Horse Association is still considering moving its headquarters from Amarillo to Fort Worth.

As KAMR reports, the AQHA released a statement this week about the potential move.

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Texas continues to lead the nation in oil and gas production, but communities in the state’s main energy production areas have also seen a rise in deaths on the road. 

In fact, energy producing regions, like much of the Panhandle, account for close to half of all traffic fatalities in Texas. 

The Texas Tribune

Next Tuesday at West Texas A&M University, the Texas Tribune will be presenting a public event entitled "Underserved: A Conversation on Rural Health Care."

For decades, the populations of rural Texas have been stagnant or declining. Scores of rural hospitals have closed in recent years, and rural residents of the Texas Panhandle have seen their access to proper medical care become increasingly limited.


Cybersecurity has increasingly become a problem in America, and a new study shows that some states in the HPPR listening area are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks.

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MJ Hegar has found an unexpected inspiration in her race to defeat Texas senatorial incumbent John Cornyn.

The Democratic contender says she looks to the success of Senator Ted Cruz to understand what  Texans want to see in a candidate.