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

Notre Dame fires defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

Notre Dame fires defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder

Notre Dame fired defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder on Sunday, ending a rocky three-year tenure in South Bend. 

Greg Hudson was named interim defensive coordinator. VanGorder is the first assistant coach fired by coach Brian Kelly at Notre Dame. 

"This is a difficult decision," Kelly said in a statement. "I have the utmost respect for Brian as both a person and football coach, but our defense simply isn't it where it should be and I believe this change is necessary for the best interest of our program and our student-athletes.

"It's never easy to make a change on your staff, but I'm confident in Greg's ability to lead our defense. As a former player at Notre Dame and an experienced defensive coordinator, he not only understands the expectations necessary to compete at the highest level, but he'll bring a fresh perspective to our sideline, practice field and meeting rooms."

Fitzgerald's diagnosis for 1-3 Northwestern: 'Those are the things that losers do'

Fitzgerald's diagnosis for 1-3 Northwestern: 'Those are the things that losers do'

Four games. Three losses. And Pat Fitzgerald is not happy.

Nor should he be after the way his team played in a 24-13 loss to 20th-ranked Nebraska on Saturday night in Evanston. The Wildcats have issues that perhaps shouldn't be expected to be overcome against a team has loaded with offensive firepower as the Huskers, but when Nebraska gifted Northwestern a pair of goal-line fumbles, taking 14 points off the board, it seemed like a game the Cats could have — and maybe even should have — won. It's because the offense not doing anything with those fumbles wasn't the lone mistake in the game, not by a long shot. Fitzgerald laid them all out in succession, his team's Saturday-night screw-ups: holding penalties that negated key third-down conversions, a Clayton Thorson interception in the end zone that snuffed out momentum, a missed extra point and a missed field goal by increasingly inaccurate kicker Jack Mitchell and a defense that was shredded for 556 yards of Nebraska offense.

So yeah, Fitz was not happy.

"You cannot do that and expect to win. Those are the things that losers do," the head coach said after the defeat. "And when you’re 1-3, that’s why you’re at where you’re at. When you self-inflict, when you get penalties in crunch-time situations, you throw interceptions in the red zone, you miss extra points, you miss field goals — want me to keep going? You keep adding all those things up, it ends up equaling a loss. And we’ve had three of those games.

"The young men in that locker room have got to figure out the discipline that it takes to be a winner consistently. We’ve typically been that way during my time, and for whatever reason right now we are choosing not to do that. And I’ve got to get that fixed, that’s the bottom line. We know how to win, but we can’t do the things that losers do. That’s what we’re doing right now. You are what your record says it is, and it’s not very good. We’ve got to get it fixed, and we’ve got to get it fixed in a hurry."

Saturday, the list of mistakes was long, but this style of play hasn't been limited to one week or one night. Season-opening losses to Western Michigan and Illinois State came in gut-wrenching fashion, first thanks to a Thorson fumble at the goal line and second on a walk-off field goal to an FCS opponent. All three losses have come in the friendly confines of Ryan Field, but that home-field comfort hasn't prevented Thorson from turning the ball over, play from both the offensive and defensive lines that earned press-confrerence call-outs from Fitzgerald, a banged-up secondary getting a similar tongue-lashing Saturday and a defense as a whole not playing in a fashion that mirrors the at-times dominating performances that unit turned in a year ago.

So excuse Fitzgerald if he can't pinpoint one thing that's disappointed him the most.

"I think the biggest disappointment is three losses," Fitzgerald said. "Three games that if we play the way we’re capable of, we have an opportunity to win all three. That starts and ends with me. I’m going to look hard at why we’re not playing and executing consistently. Are we asking guys to do too much? Are we thinking out there? You can make an excuse for the young guys, but if you go out with the 1s, you’re expected to perform. And if you don’t perform, you don’t deserve the right to go back out there as the 1.

"We’re four games in. There’s enough evidence on tape of who we are, and now we’re a very inconsistent football team. And that fits squarely on my shoulders. I’m not going to pout, I’m not going to feel sorry for myself. The only way I know how to fix it is to go out and do it, go out and practice it, go out and fix it."

The head coach is putting the blame on himself, but the players aren't shrinking from their responsibilities, either.

On offense, in particular, things have not gone well. Finishing drives was a particular talking point Saturday after the Cats had seven drives end in Nebraska territory, with another stopping at midfield, but coming away with just scores on just two of those drives. Northwestern reached the red zone just once but had three other drives end inside the 30-yard line — with two interceptions and a turnover on downs.

Getting close to the end zone but coming away with nothing is a fine little microcosm for the season as a whole. The three losses have been by a combined 14 points. But you don't get a win for getting close.

"We’re close, and I think as a team, looking at our three losses, we’re tired of being close," wide receiver Austin Carr said. "Offensively, we need to finish. Defensively, we need to put a whole game together. I’m telling the guys that we have to come together stronger, we can’t let this break us, we can’t let these losses ruin our whole season, we can’t throw in the towel. We’re going to focus on going 1-0, we’re going to learn from our mistakes, we’re going to look forward, we have to keep pushing.

"It’s just mental toughness. Getting deep into a drive, we have to lock it in. ... I think we had a lot of great preparation this week. Winning a Big Ten game is hard. I think we can just get tougher in the head game."

Winning in the Big Ten is hard. Unfortunately, the Cats found winning outside the Big Ten to be hard, too. Things will get tougher before they get easier. Next up is a game at Iowa, and that's followed by Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin in three of the four games after the visit to the Hawkeye State. Northwestern is still getting its feet under it, something that proved difficult against teams from the MAC and from the FCS. Doing it against Big Ten title contenders is a whole different challenge, as the Cats found out the hard way on Saturday night.

"We go out to Iowa City, we’ve got to perform. That’s going to be tough. That’s going to be an awesome environment, they’ve got unbelievable fans. It’s going to be an incredibly huge challenge for us, and if we don’t go out there with the right attitude and the right preparation, we’ll get our fannies whipped, we’ll get crushed," Fitzgerald said. "So these guys better figure it out pretty quick. They better walk out of the locker room, they better hug whoever they love, they better go to bed, then they better wake up and get ready to get their rear ends coached off this week. Because that’s what’s going to happen.

"I’m not going to sit here and I’m not going to take it and I’m not going to accept it. They better buckle it up. They better start hydrating right now. Because it’s not acceptable the way we’re playing right now. Starts and ends with me, so I’ll fix it."