Allan "A. R." Baker is many things, to many people...He has even been called a Rennaissance Man for his accomplishments in a wide-ranging, highly-diverse field of endeavors.
He is considered by many to be a true BBQ Aficionado. Well, at least by those six people we contacted that still have phone service. In publications that include the National BBQ News, BBQer Magazine, Chile Pepper, the infamous Kansas City Bullsheet and his Food & Travel website BBQtravel.com - "A.R." has chronicled, reviewed, and guided thousands of BBQ lovers, pork mavens, and all manner of slug to BBQ establishments across the U.S. and beyond.
As a comedic photojournalist for ROUTE 66 Magazine, Alabama Living, and KANSAS!, his features/road (mis)adventures were hailed by critics as "semi-legendary", and his forays into the abyss eventually won him the moniker of "The Cut-Rate Charles Kuralt".
His photographs in all of the aforementioned publications have been generally regarded as "quasi-wonderful", and during Allan`s appearance on the THE FOOD NETWORK, Al Roker called his collection of outlandish BBQ marquees "Art Unto Itself". His contributions to at least two upcoming BBQ books will surely evoke memories of Allan`s college photography professor, when he uttered the famous quote "What the hell am I looking at"?!
In stints with the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Wichita Eagle, and Wichita News, Allan`s comedic/nostalgia offerings were fondly remembered by co-workers, and to a person - they remembered him as a "darn good coffee runner at staff meetings".
Finally, as a Sports/Entertainment correspondent for the Sun, Clear Channel, Gospel, and Cox Radio Networks, A.R.`s versatility, social acumen, and near-mastery of all domains, took him to six World Series, five Super Bowls, four NCAA Final Fours, fifteen championship fights, the Kentucky Derby, the Academy and Razzie Awards, way too many chili cookoffs, and a couple of laundromat openings that we won`t even get into.
Prior to all this carnage, Allan was born and raised in Wichita, KS., where as a child he was involved in acting, comedy, and baseball. He battled his way through puberty, survived the tumultuous "teen-age years", eventually attaining `Pinhead` status.
He attended Wichita St. University where he studied acting and creative writing, had a tri-weekly sports show at the college radio station, and did play-by-play and color for the WSU basketball games. Somehow in this remote Midwestern outpost, TV and movies began to present opportunities, as did women - who began to establish a recurring theme in Allan`s life by standing him up in record numbers.
As would always be the case with Allan, "jumping in head first" - which upon closer scrutiny explains a lot - always seemed to pay off. With college behind him, and possessing a spirit of adventure, the "open road" soon became his constant companion. And while traveling that road, living wherever life took him, he began to cement his place within the numerous and divergent careers he had chosen to pursue - acting, sports analysis, sports history, comedy writing, food and travel, movies, and photography. Other "careers" such as bartending, blackjack dealing, and restaurant hosting proved invaluable, not to mention talents like stalling the landlord, buying cars that would begin billowing smoke within ten minutes of purchase, and amassing a huge, almost staggering debt.
Allan is "an original", who has done it "his way". And for the last thirty years, Allan has elevated this misguided versatility to a disturbing level, combined it with a dizzying array of alleged talents, and an incredible ability to mooch a free meal, securing a niche that few others can claim.
His "kind" is rare indeed - and we can all count our blessings for that...
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