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

John Fox, Bears coaches balancing workload with injury risk as training camp convenes

John Fox, Bears coaches balancing workload with injury risk as training camp convenes

Bears players and coaches have been preparing for 2016 intermittently for the past several months. That said, the 2016 “season” effectively begins on Thursday with the Bears holding their first practice of training camp, one that will be open to the public even though players will work the first two days without pads.

From now until early next year, the Bears will have no more than one day off at a time, save the off-week leading up to no game on Nov. 6, and other than perhaps a bonus day off here and there, such as after the Thursday, Oct. 20 night game at Green Bay, after which coach John Fox may grant his team a couple added days off, depending on the performance in Green Bay.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

Pads come on for the first time since last Jan. 3 against the Detroit Lions as of Saturday’s practice. Thus begins the ongoing balancing act for coaches to maximize the amount of productive time within the parameters allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, all in the context of heat and conditions of contact.

“You’ve got to get your team ready for battle and you’ve got to make sure you’ve got guys ready to go to battle with,” Fox said. “So it’s a fine line, getting ready for football.”

The Bears already have had offseason injuries to guard Ted Larsen and wide receiver Marquess Wilson, in addition to a strained hamstring for rookie running back Jordan Howard and veterans like Pernell McPhee (knee) coming off surgery.

“It’s a combative game and injuries are part of it,” Fox said. “You’ve got to have some good fortune, and some good practice habits. That way you’re getting better and more physical, yet not to the point where you’re losing guys. Obviously with the reduction of our offseason and the things we used to do as coaches, I don’t think doing less of that is the right idea.”

[RELATED: Going to Bears Training Camp ’16 in Bourbonnais? Remember these four tips]

Training camp this year includes one of the shortest off-site stretches ever, with 10 sessions at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais and one at Soldier Field on Sat. Aug. 6.

Day, Date, Practice Time (CT)

Wednesday, July 27: Report day

Thursday, July 28: 9:35 a.m. practice (no pads)

Friday, July 29: 11:15 a.m. practice (no pads)

Saturday, July 30: 9:35 a.m. practice

Sunday, July 31: 11:15 a.m. practice

AUGUST

Day, Date, Practice Time (CT)

Monday, Aug. 1: 9:35 a.m. practice

Tuesday, Aug. 2: Off day

Wednesday, Aug. 3: 11:15 a.m. practice

Thursday, Aug. 4: 9:35 a.m. practice

Friday, Aug. 5: 11:15 a.m. practice

Saturday, Aug. 6: 12:30 p.m. Meijer Chicago Bears Family Fest (Soldier Field)

Sunday, Aug.7: Off day

Monday, Aug. 8: 11:15 a.m. practice

Tuesday, Aug. 9: 9:35 a.m. practice/final open practice

Wednesday, Aug. 10: Off day

Preseason Schedule:

Thursday, Aug. 11: Bears vs. Denver Broncos, 7 p.m.

Thursday,  Aug. 18: Bears at New England Patriots, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Bears vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 12 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 1: Bears at Cleveland Browns, 7 p.m.

Going to Bears Training Camp ’16 in Bourbonnais? Remember these four tips

Going to Bears Training Camp ’16 in Bourbonnais? Remember these four tips

After covering some 25 Bears training camps spanning both Bourbonnais and Platteville, this CSNChicago.com reporter has gleaned some tips for getting the most out of the fan experience:

Appreciate the effort:

A lot of the young men you’ll be watching are living playing to realize a dream they’ve had since they were as young as some of the youngest fans. They are competing for jobs every day, every snap, and even going against teammates, the effort expended is worthy of the utmost respect. A guarantee: You WILL see something spectacular, whether from a star or some young hopeful who will leave it all and then some on that practice field. Enjoy the moment.

Be polite:

If you want autographs from players, your chances improve with a little courtesy. “Hey, Cutler…” and waving a pen and program at the Bears quarterback does not play nearly as well as “Jay, Jay…” or, if you’re a young fan and really want to stand out, “Mr. Cutler, Mr. Cutler…” Players don’t always get to hear a lot of “polite.” It doesn’t guarantee a signing, but understand that there’s no way players can sign every request and still have fully functioning limbs. And if a player doesn’t stop to sign, it’s not a snub. Most players sign every other day, so this just might be their off day for signing.

Plus, if it’s post-practice, remember that these players have just gone through at least two hours of beyond-max-effort work, wearing equipment that is anything but air-conditioned and weighs as much as a small child, and getting off their feet is a necessary survival skill.

[SHOP: Buy a Jay Cutler jersey here]

Go early:

The folks at Olivet Nazarene University do a truly amazing job of crowd and traffic control, but depending on the size of the crush, particularly on peak days, you may miss some field time getting into the parking lots if you’re getting there close to the start of practice. For another thing, players are typically on the field well ahead of the scheduled start times for practice, so you’ll be seeing players working and getting loosened up if you’re there early.

Understand the cadence and order:

Practices are not continuous scrimmaging and hitting. For one thing, that’s physically not possible, or smart. The Bears have individual sessions, then depending on the day, may come together for a “live” run scrimmage without receivers, followed by a less intense session, maybe some special teams, before or after very live pass-protection and receiver-DB head-to-heads, a break, then finishing with 11-on-11 “team” sessions.

Should the Bears bring Devin Hester back to Chicago?

Should the Bears bring Devin Hester back to Chicago?

The Atlanta Falcons released kick return specialist Devin Hester on Tuesday after just two seasons with the team. 

The former Bear and four-time Pro Bowl selection, who's best known for being one of the NFL's most dangerous return men, is now in the market for a new NFL job. 

So that begs the question, should the Bears entertain the idea of bringing Hester back to Chicago in 2016?

Hester, 33, has an NFL-record 20 touchdown returns over his 10 year career. However, he only had one return touchdown during his two years in Atlanta, and collected just two receiving touchdowns and one rushing score. 

It's safe to say the Bears aren't interested in Hester as a receiver, and who knows how much gas he has left in the tank, but he has certainly made an impact during his time in the Windy City.