5 Questions with...V103's Joe Soto

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5 Questions with...V103's Joe Soto

CSN Chicago Senior Director of Communications
CSNChicago.com Contributor

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? CSNChicago.com has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with everyones favorite local celeb feature entitled 5 Questions with...

On Wednesdays, exclusively on CSNChicago.com, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeks guesta Chicago native and local radio standout with three decades in the broadcasting biz under his belt and he just keeps getting better each yearnot only is this guy a standout on-air personality at the mega-popular V103, hes also a teacher, a man of deep faith, a proud husband & father, a stellar baseball player and, in addition to our own David Kaplan, hes probably THE biggest Cubs fan youll ever meet, not to mention a true class actwhat are we waiting for, its 5 Questions withJOE SOTO!

BIO: Joe Soto has been in radio for 31 years. He now teams with Ramonski Luv for "The Real Show" weekday evenings from 6:00-9:00 PM on V-103. He also does his own show, "Back in the Day" on Saturday evenings from 5:00-10:00 PM.

He is a native Chicagoan who graduated from Farragut High School on the west side and Daley College on the south side where he received his Associate of Arts degree. Joe then moved to DeKalb where he earned his Bachelors in Radio, Television and Film at Northern Illinois University.

Joe has been married to his wife Darlene for 17 years. They have two daughters and a son (Sonia, Samantha and Sonny). They also have 2 dogs named Katie and BJ.

Aside from his family and radio...baseball is his passion. He plays for The Oak Lawn Rifles of The Roy Hobbs League. He has won National Championship rings with teams out of Dallas and Memphis.

Joe also teaches Announcing and History of Radio at Kennedy King College and is a member of the CPS "Real Men Read" program. He is also a "Proclaimer of the Word" at St. Leonard's Church in Berwyn, Illinois.

Joe's favorite movie is The Godfather. His favorite sports team is the Chicago Cubs. His favorite musical groups are Santana and Steely Dan and his favorite color is blue. He's also quite fond of leopard print.

1) CSNChicago.com: Joe, as a radio veteran in the Chicago market, youve established yourself as a standout on-air talent at one of the top stations in the market. Describe your style as it pertains to connecting with your V-103 listeners?

Soto: I've done a lot of formats at a lot of different stations over the past 31 years. I can easily say that V103 is definitely a lifestyle station for me. First, I really love the music. In particular, the songs I get to play on "The Back in the Day" show on Saturday nights. I relate to this music because it's the stuff I grew up with. I really love those songs best.

As far as connecting with the listeners, that is the easy part. I don't think there is too much difference between us. In most cases, we are all native Chicagoans who grew up in the same place and relate to one another on a lot of levels. When I'm in the community, they treat me and talk to me as if they've known me all my life. They even ask about my family members by name. That is an honor to me. Our listeners are like family as well. That's why we refer to them as our "V103" family.

2) CSNChicago.com: As a teacher and outspoken literacy advocate, youve been a champion for the importance of education in our city and society in general. Do you think its safe to say the parents have increased their involvement with their childrens education these days or are we still a long ways away from getting to that point?

Soto: I do think there is more attention paid to education as a whole nowadays. Yes, parents are doing better, but we have to keep at it. As a parent myself, I find that children can have a range of emotions and sometimes their judgment can get cloudy. I'm not a dinosaur, but I am old-fashioned when it comes to the kids of today. It's better to be stern and clear with young people. When they see a weakness in an elder, they will try to take advantage. I won't allow that to happen. I am not my children's friend, I am their Father. By the same token, I am not my student's friend either. I am there Instructor. When I think back, my best teachers were the ones that were hardest on me. I didn't care for them at the time, but I never forgot them either. Now I thank them for being tough on me and helping to shape me. It's much appreciated.

3) CSNChicago.com: Kudos to you Joe for still going out there and playing baseball to this day. As were all getting older, that cant be an easy task. Hows your overall game today and do you still look at new ways to improve yourself on the diamond?

Soto: Thanks for the nice words. It's actually not an easy task. Ever since I was a kid, I was always good enough to play on the team. I was never the star player, but I always contributed. It's the same today. Despite my advanced age, I can still get to the ball in the outfield. Can't throw it as well, so I have my cut-off man come out another 20 feet for the relay. As we say on the diamond: "got no gun. But it is my defense that has kept me in the game this long. My stick has suffered over the last couple seasons, although I usually have a pretty good on-base percentage. I'm always looking to improve. Any suggestions? I'm open. I spend a lot of time throwing the ball around with my 9-year-old little league playing son. He seems to enjoy it. I hope he stays with it. I can truthfully say that both baseball and radio are in my blood. Oh...I want to take this opportunity to say hello to my teammates, The Oak Lawn Rifles of the Roy Hobbs League.

4) CSNChicago.com: Theres no hiding the fact about your love and passion for the Chicago Cubs. Are you excited about the front office moves the Cubs have made this past off-season or would you say youre cautiously optimistic?...also, lets throw in a follow-up question: who is your all-time favorite Cubs player? (and a brief line or two about why you admire that player so much)

Soto: I'm always excited about the Cubsespecially in the off-season. I already miss baseball so much. But before you know it, pitchers and catchers will be reporting. I like the fact that the Cubs have been lying low and not signing these big money players. I think they've added some good pieces. We need to play as a team and not rely on one or two studs. I hope they make moves to secure pitching more than anything else. Yes...I do believe in "THEO-logy". Good things will happen for our Cubs. I know it!

As far as my favorite player. There were so many. But I got to go with Jose Cardenal. He played right field and first base, just like me. He also wore 1, just like me. And, back in the day, we both had the big fro's stuffed underneath our baseball caps. I actually met him once and had my picture taken with him. He showed me his World Series ring he earned as a coach with the Yankees. That was a cool day. Yup! I love me some Jose!

5) CSNChicago.com: With Christmas Day fast approaching, lets go Back in the Day to your youth. What was the best Christmas present you ever received when you were a kid and what made it so special to you personally?

Soto: Easy. I was 13. Christmas 1972. My Father bought me a blue MacGregor Willie Mays baseball glove. I believe it cost about 20. That was a huge amount of money back then. I was so happy. I'm smiling about that glove right now as I write this. It was beautiful. The brand new leather smelled so good. I remember unwrapping it and running out to the alley to play catch on a cold December day and there was snow on the ground. But I did not care. I used that same glove thru four seasons of High School baseball at Farragut on the west side. It will always be my favorite glove.

Incidentally, I still own my first baseball glove. I was 6-years-old. It was a Rawlings Mickey Mantle glove and it never leaves my baseball bag. I carry it with me every time I play. It always reminds me of being a kid. Because in a lot of ways, I am. Kids don't work. They play. Just like me. I get to play Radio 6 nights a week and then I get to play Baseball on the weekends 6 to 7 months a year. Thanks God!

BONUS QUESTIONCSNChicago.com: Anything youd like to promote Joe? Tell us, CSNChicago.com readers want to hear about it

Soto: Join me and my on-air partner Ramonski Luv for the "Real Show" week nights at 6pm. If you love 70's, 80's and even 90's music like me, join me for the "Back in the Day" show Saturday nights from 5pm-10pm. Call me with your requests at 312-591-8103. Also, if you know of a teacher or school that has special reading activities or events, I'd love to come and read to your students. Happy Holidays and thanks Comcast SportsNetI'm a big fan!

Soto LINKS:

V 103 official websiteJoe Soto page

Joe Soto on Facebook

Joe Soto on Twitter

Why Dodgers could be a playoff problem for Cubs

Why Dodgers could be a playoff problem for Cubs

LOS ANGELES – Imagine a Los Angeles Dodgers team doing more with less getting Clayton Kershaw back to start Game 1 of a playoff series. That could become a nightmare matchup for the Cubs, if Rich Hill stays healthy and continues his late-career renaissance, and if rookie phenom Julio Urias saves enough bullets for October.   

“They would be a tough team,” said Ben Zobrist, a World Series hero last year with the Kansas City Royals, the switch-hitter the Cubs signed with October specifically in mind. “We would have our hands full because of all the lefties they have. 

“We have to do a better job against lefties overall – and figuring out how to just get more runners on base. We tend to rely on the homer a little bit too much. And in those situations, (we) have to find a way to just take our hits and hit line drives around the park.”

On Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, the Cubs didn’t have any answers for Brock Stewart, a 24-year-old right-hander out of Illinois State University who matched $155 million lefty Jon Lester for five scoreless innings. The Dodgers manufactured a 1-0 victory, and might have swept the best team in baseball out of Chavez Ravine if not for Kris Bryant’s MVP game on Friday night.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]   

“They have a veteran group on the field,” manager Joe Maddon said. “They’re always able to come up with another pitcher somehow. They got a really good bullpen. For right now, they’ve been utilized a lot, so I don’t know how that’s going to hold up, but they are good.”

Maddon couldn’t resist taking a few passive-aggressive shots, but he did compare this Los Angeles bullpen to the 2002 Anaheim Angels team that won the World Series and gave him a championship ring as Mike Scioscia’s bench coach.
  
Kershaw (11-2, 1.79 ERA) appeared to be rolling toward his fourth National League Cy Young Award when he went on the disabled list with lower back pain in late June.

“Kershaw coming off a back injury, you just don’t know,” Maddon said. “Hill’s good. He’s reinvented. He’s a curveball pitcher and all that kind of good stuff. So, of course, they can be good.”

Maddon wondered how Urias – who settled down after a rocky start to win a 3-2 game on Saturday – would hold up at the age of 20 after throwing only 80-plus innings combined last year at four different minor-league affiliates. 

“The biggest concern would probably be that he would run out of gas,” Maddon said, “not being used to pitching that late into a year. And I know they’re mindful. I know they’re going to do things to restrict him, whatever. But that would be the biggest concern there.”

[RELATED: With John Lackey ramping up for return, could Cubs go to six-man rotation?] 

The Dodgers (73-57) built a lineup around professional hitters like Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley and Howie Kendrick. They have a two-way catcher (Yasmani Grandal), their own 22-year-old All-Star shortstop (Corey Seager) and a lights-out closer (Kenley Jansen).

“They’re in first place,” Lester said. “I don’t see why they should be overlooked. I don’t feel like they’re overlooked. Being a part of West Coast baseball for a couple months (with the Oakland A’s), I think really everything on the West Coast gets overlooked. I think it’s the time difference and a lot of other factors that are going on. But they’re a good team. They’ve been a good team.”

Maybe the Dodgers will expend too much energy trying to fend off the San Francisco Giants, and there are conditionals to Kershaw, Hill and Urias. But that left-handed-heavy rotation could mean the Cubs will be slamming their bats and helmets in frustration in October.  

“I’m not there yet,” Maddon said. “I’m not worried about the Dodgers. I’m worried about getting our guys healthy and us playing the game properly. If it comes to that, I would be more than happy. I would be ecstatic about facing them in the latter part of the season. They can throw as many lefties as they want. They’re good, but I can’t worry about the Dodgers.” 

Big Ten preview: Can Tommy Armstrong better get the ball to Huskers' offensive weapons?

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Big Ten preview: Can Tommy Armstrong better get the ball to Huskers' offensive weapons?

Tommy Armstrong has some terrific weapons on the offensive side of the ball at Nebraska. In Jordan Westerkamp and Brandon Reilly, Armstrong — the Huskers’ fourth-year starting quarterback — has one of the best wide receiver tandems in the Big Ten.

But the question is: Can Armstrong put the ball in their hands more often than he puts it in the hands of opposing defenders?

It seems like a pretty straight-forward fix for a senior quarterback, but Armstrong’s Achilles’ heel has been accuracy. For someone as talented as Armstrong, for someone as capable as he when it comes to big, game-changing plays, getting the ball to his receivers has been a surprising struggle.

Last season, Armstrong ranked third in the Big Ten with 3,030 passing yards and 22 touchdown tosses. But his completion percentage was just 55.2 percent, which ranked 11th among conference quarterbacks, and he threw a league-high 16 interceptions, more than either of the quarterbacks at Maryland, which had the most picks thrown of any team in college football.

Maybe it comes down to leaning on his receivers a little more. In Westerkamp, he has one of the all-time best to play the position at Nebraska. Westerkamp ranks fourth on the program’s all-time receiving list. In Reilly, he has a big-play threat. Reilly caught eight passes for 30 or more yards last season.

And those two aren’t the only guys Armstrong will be throwing too, either. The return of receivers Stanley Morgan Jr. and Alonzo Moore plus tight end Cethan Carter and running back Terrell Newby mean all six of the team’s top receivers from a season ago are back. Oh, and the electrifying De’Mornay Pierson-El will be back from injury, too.

“They’re real good,” Armstrong said during the team’s media day earlier this month. “They’re talented, they’re the most talented group I’ve had since I got here. Those guys make it easier for me. They make it easier for the running backs. They give defenses trouble, and they’re going to help us a lot. It’s good that they’re all going to be healthy. They’re going to do what they do best.”

“I think that’s great for Tommy,” head coach Mike Riley said. “I think that when you have versatility that way — that’s a big factor when you have to look at a group like that defensively, especially when you have an interior that will sometimes have Cethan Carter and Jordan Westerkamp as inside receivers. Then you’re always talking defensively where you’re going to put the strength of the coverage. Are you going to roll over the top of the corners to help them because we have pretty good wide receivers? Are they going to stay inside to help the linebackers and cover those slots and the tight ends?

“I love having all those threats like that. With our style of game, utilizing those people as much as we can, really gives you balance attacking a defense, and I think the better we run the ball, the more effective we can be in getting the ball to those guys. That’s going to have to be our game. We’ll have to put it all together like that.”

Armstrong, of course, has also proven his ability to make plays by himself with his legs, and the dual-threat nature of his game is what makes him one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten. He was the team’s third-leading rusher last season and scored a team-high seven touchdowns on the ground. That ability makes the Huskers’ offense even that more multi-faceted and that more dangerous.

In the end, Armstrong will be judged on what he does to make sure last season’s six-win campaign was a fluke. And in the eyes of many, that means whether he’ll be able to take care of the ball and better get it to all those weapons mentioned above.

If he can, Nebraska could be right back where it historically has been: competing for a conference championship.

Patrick Reed wins Barclays, Rickie Fowler loses Ryder Cup spot

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Patrick Reed wins Barclays, Rickie Fowler loses Ryder Cup spot

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (AP) -- Patrick Reed had a crystal trophy, a clear shot at the richest payoff in golf and a spot on the Ryder Cup team.

All he could offer Rickie Fowler was best wishes to join him at Hazeltine.

Reed picked up two victories Sunday at The Barclays. He rallied from an early two-shot deficit to win the FedEx Cup playoff opener and assure himself a clear shot at the $10 million bonus. And he secured a spot on the U.S. team at Hazeltine that will try to win back the Ryder Cup.

"Everyone's been talking about the Ryder Cup, been talking about, 'Oh, you're in the eighth spot and you're on the bubble' and all that," Reed said after his one-shot victory. "If you go and win, it takes care of everything else. ... It takes care of everything."

The way Fowler finished only leads to two weeks of uncertainty.

Fowler needed only to finish alone in third place, which was the farthest from his mind as he battled Reed at Bethpage Black.

"I wasn't trying to get a decent finish," Fowler said. "I was trying to win."

Two shots behind with four holes to play - and two shots clear of third place - Fowler missed a 4-foot par putt on the 15th hole and made double bogey on the next hole. His late meltdown sent him to a 74, a tie for seventh and kept him off the Ryder Cup team.

Reed built a big enough lead that a few sloppy mistakes over the final hour didn't matter. He made bogey on the final hole for a 1-under 70 and a one-shot victory over Sean O'Hair and Emiliano Grillo.

Fowler still could have made the Ryder Cup team with a birdie on the 18th hole. He missed another fairway and took bogey. It was the fourth time Fowler has failed to convert a 54-hole lead on the PGA Tour, though he remained optimistic.

"He just told me, 'Hey, I'm going to go get my work done. I'll see you in Minnesota,'" Reed said.

Sunday was the final day to earn eight automatic spots on the U.S. team. Fowler's late collapse allowed Zach Johnson to claim the eighth and final spot. Davis Love III still has four captain's picks over the next three weeks.

Reed, who finished at 9-under 275, wasn't the only player who felt like a big winner.

O'Hair was among five players who moved into the top 100 in the FedEx Cup, advancing to the next playoff event at the TPC Boston that starts Friday. And he made a big move, closing with a 66 to tie for second. That moved him all the way up to No. 15, assuring two more playoff events and giving O'Hair a good shot at staying in the top 30 who qualify for the finale at the Tour Championship.

Grillo birdied the final hole for a 69 and moved to No. 6.

Defending champion Jason Day struggled all week with his accuracy and had to settle for a 69, tying for fourth with Gary Woodland (69) and Adam Scott (71).

Reed had gone 55 tournaments worldwide since starting 2015 with a victory at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. A bogey on the par-3 third hole put him two shots behind Fowler, but not for long. Reed made three birdies on the next four holes to tie for the lead.

Even so, Reed could sense another tournament slipped away. Just seven holes into the final round, he already had missed four putts from 10 feet or closer and began to think back to other lost opportunities that kept him from winning.

That's when his caddie, brother-in-law Kessler Karain, told him to let it go and look ahead. A pair of tough par saves and a birdie at No. 12 gave Reed a two-shot lead, and he was on his way.

Fowler missed the 11th fairway and ended his streak of 55 consecutive holes without a bogey, losing the lead in the process. Reed holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the next hole for a two-shot lead, and Fowler never got any closer.

Sung Kang matched the course record with a 64 to move from No. 122 to No. 88. John Huh, Tyrone Van Aswegan and Derek Fathauer also moved into the top 100, while Shane Lowry, Peter Malnati, Robert Streb, Lucas Glover and Jonas Blixt fell out and ended their season.

The top 70 after next week advance to the third playoff event, with the top 30 going to East Lake for the Tour Championship.

With his victory, which moves Reed to No. 9 in the world ranking, Reed goes to No. 1 in the FedEx Cup. He will be assured of being in the top five who only have to win the Tour Championship to capture the $10 million prize.