Horizonte, Arizona Horizon’s sister show, focuses on Arizona issues through a Hispanic lens. Celebrating the program’s 10th anniversary, host José Cárdenas, senior vice president and general counsel of Arizona State University, will talk about the program and recall some Horizonte’s memorable moments, interviews and issues.
Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons.
Ted Simons: "Arizona Horizon" viewers are no doubt familiar with "Horizonte," a weekly public affairs show that looks at a variety of issues through a Hispanic lens. "Horizonte" debuted 10 years ago today here on Arizona PBS with local attorney José Cárdenas as host. Jose joins me now to talk his 10 years with the show. Good to see you.
José Cárdenas: Good to be here.
Ted Simons: Feel like 10 years?
José Cárdenas: Absolutely. [laughter] A lot longer.
Ted Simons: In what way? Talk about it. Smooth sailing? A couple of speed bumps? 10 years, how's it gone?
José Cárdenas: It took a while to get used to being on camera. And not to agonize. As you know, our show is taped, but it's quote unquote live on tape, so there's no editing. So we would tape on a Wednesday and it airs on a Thursday. And for that 24 hours I would just be in agony because of something I had said wrong, or slurred or something like that. And I've gotten better about dealing with that.
Ted Simons: That's good to hear. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does happen, everyone feels the same way.
José Cárdenas: Usually it was because I pointed it out to my friends.
Ted Simons: How did "Horizonte," 10 years ago, how did this whole idea get started?
José Cárdenas: It was an effort by channel 8 to have a greater impact in the Hispanic community. One of the ideas was to have a show modeled after "Arizona Horizon" but with a slightly different focus. Many of the topics would be the same, because the topics that interest the Hispanic community are also of interest to the community at large. They met with leaders of the Hispanic community and talked about possible hosts.
Ted Simons: Was there a bit of a steering committee, or a community advisory board? Were folks throwing ideas left and right?
José Cárdenas: My understanding, because I missed the meeting, when people say how did this come about, I say I missed the meeting. At this meeting they met with a lot of the thought leaders in the Hispanic community and discussed the concept, Mike Sauceda who is a producer for both shows, was there, and the discussion was, let's do something like "Arizona Horizon," and who would we get to do it? So they decided to ask a number of people to do some auditions, and thereafter three of us did some pilots.
Ted Simons: So basically you didn't necessarily apply for it, they came to you, when they first came to you, what was your initial thought about hosting a television show?
José Cárdenas: My initial thought was, it's not something I want to do. But it will be fun to audition. So I thought, I can do this. Piece of cake. I had been practicing law for a number of years by that time. It was a miserable experience, the audition. I felt I had humiliated myself, wondered why I put myself through it. But to my surprise they asked me to come back and do some pilots.
Ted Simons: And?
José Cárdenas: And we did seven. I did four, the other two people actually I did three of them, the other two people did two each. At the end of the summer they chose me.
Ted Simons: I want to talk more about the origins of the show and the mission of the show. But to you, in particular, do you see yourself as a journalist? Do you see yourself as a facilitator of conversation? Do you see yourself as an advocate?
José Cárdenas: The first two for sure. Advocate, not so much in the sense of a particular position, but more in the sense of showing the community perhaps a different face of the Hispanic community than some of the stereotypes. So the first two absolutely.
Ted Simons: Back to the point I was going to ask originally, we talked about showing a variety of issues through a Hispanic lens, what does that mean?
José Cárdenas: It means a lot of different things. I think sometimes it just means having an Hispanic face, a Latino face talking about a subject of interest to the community, and just showing a different image. For example, you have a doctor of the Mayo Clinic, who was born and educated and trained in Mexico city. But ends up in Johns Hopkins and becomes one of the world's leading blood cancer oncologists. Having that person on to talk about a subject that's of interest to everybody and that effects everybody, I think gives people a different image of Latinos, and I think that can be helpful.
Ted Simons: When the show first started, was there a certain mission, or a certain guideline, or a set of ideas, A, and B, has that changed or morphed over the years?
José Cárdenas: I think not so much a mission other than to bring some topics up that might not be covered in at least the same depth as they would be. Not so much on horizon, because horizon has always covered the same issues, immigration, for example, you've covered many times. But the general media wouldn't have covered it in the same depth that we did. And maybe some different faces, talking about it. I don't think that's changed. But some of the same guests are people like governors and senators and so forth, justice O'Connor has been on the show to talk about issues that are of interest to everybody, but maybe with a slightly different emphasis.
Ted Simons: If you someone on the show who may not be Latino or Hispanic, do you approach the questions differently than perhaps I might approach them here on "Arizona Horizon"?
José Cárdenas: Yes and no. With Justice O'Connor, the issue was the independence of the judiciary. So we would ask many of the same questions you would ask, but at least once or twice in an interview like that you'd say, how is this of particular impact on the Hispanic community? Governor Napolitano was one of the first guests on the first show, Jeff Trent, the head of TGEN, was one of the first guests. Both, you get to the question, so why should Latinos care about this?
Ted Simons: Why should Latinos care about this, why should general audience care about this, who is your audience? When you're asking questions, when you're booking guests or agreeing to have certain guests on the show, and the interview starts, who do you see out there watching?
José Cárdenas: We see a lot of your audience, actually. As I recall, some of the analysis that's been done shows the audience skews a little older and younger, actually than the horizon audience, but the bulk is the same as your viewers. So you provide our audience, thank you very much for that.
Ted Simons: Why is the show produced in English and not Spanish?
José Cárdenas: Well, part of it is to make sure we had a broader reach. Part of it, it's just the difficulties, logistical difficulties of doing a show in Spanish. You'd have to have producers and other people who could do that. We have had a few instances, someone using, where we had guest who's thought it was in Spanish, so you have a state agency that send as guest who is predominantly Hispanic. I mean, Spanish speaker and they get on the show, and panic a little bit when they realize it's not in Spanish.
Ted Simons: I think it would be ironic to see a "Horizonte" show with subtitles.
José Cárdenas: We probably could do it. We'll work on the budget for that.
Ted Simons: Let's talk about the role of the show in the community. I like to see how things change over the years. The immigration debate has changed a lot of things in Arizona. How do you see "Horizonte" with that particular debate, and again, has that changed?
José Cárdenas: It's changed because the debate itself has changed. It started out with people like a Russell Pearce who was just a voice in the desert. No one was paying attention. All of a sudden, the debate changes because he's had more impact and we end up with an SB 1070. And then you have people who in many ways are coming after that, the mood of the country has changed, the mood in Arizona has changed. So the show has changed because the actors and the issues have evolved over that period of time.
Ted Simons: Do you find an earlier time was it's easier to get folks on and have a relatively civil debate, as opposed to when things get hot and heavy -- Obviously here we try to dot same thing. Keep things somewhat elevated, obviously same thing on "Horizonte."- How difficult is that when you got something as charged as immigration?
José Cárdenas: I don't think it's been that hard. One of the points of pride for myself and for the producers of the show and for channel 8 in general is we've kept the discussion at a pretty civil level. It's gotten emotional at times, and that's a function of some of the people on the show. But with rare exceptions, I don't think anybody has chosen not to appear on the show because they thought this focus of either the host, myself, or the show itself is going to be unfair.
Ted Simons: When you get responses to the show, and especially on hot button topics like immigration, what are you hearing? Are you hearing the typical left, right bias here, bias there, do you get different responses? What do you hear?
José Cárdenas: You hear some of that. What you'll hear especially from friends, I'm surprised you didn't react more strongly. Or, it showed that you were holding your tongue. I really wasn't. I respect the fact that people of good faith can have legitimate differences of opinion, and I try to act that way when I ask the questions.
Ted Simons: That brings it back to whether you're a journalist, facilitator or advocate. Do you have to show both side and allow people to present themselves, obviously challenge them, but when it's an issue like immigration or some of the other issues that have come up recently, it's got to be difficult when you've got folks saying things that are kind of hard to swallow.
José Cárdenas: Yeah, at times it can be. Those are the shows where you want to make sure you have people with two different points of view on the show so it doesn't look like you're- In the effort to do what a good journalist would do, it doesn't look like you're being the advocate. So you can turn to people and say, what about that point? And you get a response from somebody who is articulate as well.
Ted Simons: Do you find yourself, was it difficult to do that at first? Is that getting easier? Did it get easier?
José Cárdenas: I think it did. Because I felt more comfortable with doing this. But the more difficult shows are where you don't have the opposite point of view on the show, so you have to for purposes of balance, make sure you ask the questions that might be asked by somebody else who has a different point of view.
Ted Simons: I think people sometimes have a hard time understanding, you have to challenge someone, if someone says X, Y, and Z you have to make them explain it or it's a waste of time.
José Cárdenas: Exactly.
Ted Simons: As far as the show itself, you're leaving the studio, show is over, what kind of show when you leave the studio makes you go, that's a good one? And what kind of makes you go, I could have done better.
José Cárdenas: We've had the privilege of having some people who just had inspiring life stories, like Anthony Robles, the one-legged wrestler who won the NCAA championships, and other people who have overcome difficult circumstances, or people doing just wonderful things out in the community, working with people, scientific advances and so forth. And those are the shows that make you feel good about yourself. Maybe you didn't do that good of a job on the interview, but I've always felt the guests make the show and when you get a guest like that it's great. And the feedback we get later shows that. The ones that make you feel that you didn't do as good a job are the ones where you feel like you should have asked that further question. You should have challenged them. A little harder, not to be an advocate, but because the question, the statement is banked for how can you say that given X? And when you didn't ask that question, you don't feel too good afterwards.
Ted Simons: Do you find you'll leave the studio going, I don't know if that was such a great show. You watch it later and go, that wasn't so bad.
José Cárdenas: What I've noticed, it's difficult for me to watch myself on TV, but what I have noticed is that the shows generally tend not to be as good as I thought they were in terms of my performance, or as bad as I thought they were.
Ted Simons: There you go. I can hear you. The importance, now, general overview. The importance of a show like "Horizonte," to this market. And really, to the state, because we're seen all over the state. How important is it to have that Hispanic lens taking these pictures?
José Cárdenas: Well, I think it's important. Without sanding arrogant, I think we bring a little bit different dimension to the discussion and to the debate. Again, some of the people who might not be on the air otherwise, we provide a forum for them to speak. And at greater length than might otherwise be the case. So I think it's important in that way, and it's important for channel 8 to recognize the changing demographics of this state, and put other faces on the air.
Ted Simons: Do you ever get, back to responses, do you ever get folks who simply don't get the- Are you ever surprised at the response from some interviews where you think you talked about all this, and they wind up complaining about all that?
José Cárdenas: Yeah, not as often as you might think. I think the response has been pretty positive. The surprises come when somebody misinterprets a question that I've asked, and you might get somebody let's say, a Tea Party person who, even José Cárdenas expressed surprise that something or- Wasn't the way it should be. And that wasn't the intent of the question. But you get that kind of response.
Ted Simons: So, why do you think people watch "Horizonte"?
José Cárdenas: Well, there's my granddaughter who watches because she has to. But I think it is an opportunity to reflect on some issues. For example, we have a segment called Sounds of Cultura. Which focuses on Chilean, Argentinean, ballerinas who happen to be Hispanic, but are engaged in these kinds of cultural pursuits. And people who are talking about the kinds of stuff they did in China, and the similarities of their cultures. People watch because it is different.
Ted Simons: And we should mention that the show tomorrow night will have a tenure celebration a 10-year anniversary, looking back at some of the previous interviews, you'll be there with guests to discuss current issues in the context of the history of "Horizonte," and yet, this may be coming out from left field here, do you ever foresee a time when there won't be a need for an "Horizonte"?
José Cárdenas: Absolutely. I've talked to some of my friends and colleagues, Danny Ortega, who will be on the show, and he's talked about the fact in the presidential elections he was telling his kids, you know, people shouldn't vote for somebody or against somebody because of the color of their skin. They're like, of course. What are you talking about? And I think in a few years we'll see that in Arizona, where people say, most of the people here are Latino or accepting of Latinos, why would we have a special show that does something that focuses on that? Absolutely. That would be a good day.
Ted Simons: That would be a good day, but until then, we're going to watch "Horizonte," especially tomorrow night for the anniversary show. Congratulations on 10 years, and continued success.
José Cárdenas: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.
Jose Cardenas:Host, Horizonte;