Get to Know: José Cárdenas
Dec. 1, 2017
Since 2003, “Horizonte” has introduced us to hundreds of notable artists, scientists, community leaders and much more. But how well do you know “Horizonte” host José Cárdenas himself?
During the day, Cárdenas serves as senior vice president and general counsel for Arizona State University. Before joining ASU in 2009, he was a partner in the law firm of Lewis and Roca. It’s not your standard background for a television host: Cárdenas had never worked in broadcasting before “Horizonte.”
But Cárdenas says the two job aren’t so different as you might think. Interviewing people and public speaking were skills he had honed in his legal career, so those aspects of hosting were within his comfort zone. “Being on television is a little terrifying,” Cárdenas admitted, “but over the years, I’ve come to enjoy the experience.”
Sometimes the two jobs overlap in interesting ways. “There have been a few instances where I’ve met people who are guests on the show, like the DACA students who were on recently, where those are issues I work on at ASU as well. So it has been helpful there,” Cárdenas said.
Cárdenas works with producer Laarni Fernandez Nuez to determine the topics for each week’s show. “Occasionally, some of these come from emails I’ve sent her, where I get an email that says so-and-so will be in town speaking at ASU or somewhere else, so I’ll send them to her for her consideration, and she’s very responsive about that. But ultimately, the guest selection is hers. She comes up with most of the ideas for topics and guests, but runs them past me.”
The guests — and the variety of guests — are Cárdenas’ favorite part of hosting “Horizonte.” “Meeting new people who are brilliant in whatever way, whether artistically or leaders in their field, leaders in the community,” he said, is what keeps the show fresh and exciting after fourteen years.
“We’ve had some celebrities, and they’ve been fun, like [actor] Edward James Olmos and [former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development] Henry Cisneros,” Cárdenas said. “As a category, the artists are among my favorites, as are the remarkable young people.” As one example, he mentioned a young man who became the first U.S.-born Hispanic priest to be ordained in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix in more than 35 years. “It was fun and refreshing to talk to him.”
Outside of work, one of Cárdenas’ passions is his art collection: He and his wife began collecting when he was in law school. The focus is principally on Latin American art, and many rooms in his house have taken on their own themes — rooms of angels or Madonnas, flowers or Mexican imagery. “It wasn’t intended to be thematic, but it turned out that way,” he said.
Reflecting on the “Horizonte” journey thus far, Cárdenas said that he takes pride in being able to burst stereotypes. “We may have (as we have had on the show) one of the world’s leading blood cancer oncologists, and he happens to be Mexican,” Cárdenas said. “We’re exposing people to the breadth and depth of talent — scientific, professional and artistic — in the Hispanic community, and I do take pride in that. We’re showcasing some people to a broader audience.”
Three ways to watch “Horizonte”:
On Arizona PBS: Thursdays at 11:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
On World: Fridays at 6 p.m. and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.
Online at azpbs.org/news/horizonte.