By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Storytelling drives new ABC15 anchor Javier Soto.
In his 18-year career in Arizona, the Emmy Award-winning journalist has covered the Jodi Arias murder trial, the Yarnell Hill wildfire, Senate Bill 1070 and the major protests that followed, the contempt-of-court cases against former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Phoenix serial shooter, and the death of Sen. John McCain.
“That’s why I got into the news business,” says Soto, a Scottsdale resident. “It’s never the same thing every day. You never know what to expect. The amazing storytelling is what drives me in telling the stories that sometimes are untold.
“That’s what excites me: those personal stories we share with the public.”
Partnered with Katie Raml, Soto debuted on ABC15’s 5 p.m. newscast on June 13 after spending nearly two decades years at Arizona’s Family stations, channels 3 and 5. Soto replaces Steve Irvin, who retired in May after well-documented heart problems.
“I have been friends with Javier for more than a decade,” Raml says.
“He is deeply committed to this community. He represents the values of ABC15. I am energized to now work alongside him every day.”
Soto graduated from California State University in Long Beach, starting his career as a producer at KTLA in Los Angeles. His first on-air position was at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, as a reporter/anchor.
After two years, he accepted a job as the Northern Arizona bureau chief for KTVK. After taking over as the morning reporter on the station’s morning newscasts, he was promoted to weekend anchor and then morning anchor before joining ABC15.
“ABC15 has an amazing reputation in Arizona,” Soto says.
“I am thrilled to be part of a station that values community-changing journalism. I cannot wait to get started.”
Mitch Jacob, ABC15 news director, has long been impressed with Soto’s passion for storytelling.
“He understands the needs of Arizona and will hit the ground running day one in the newsroom. Javier is a wonderful addition to ABC15,” he says.
Being a journalist is challenging, in the light of “fake news” claims.
Soto says he did not think the negative comments and finger pointing would snowball. He says he discussed the issue with TV news anchor Scott Pelley, when he was in Phoenix accepting the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism.
“I’ll never forget what he told me,” he says.
“He says, ‘That alone should make you work harder. We need to get everybody grounded and back to the pillars of journalism to make sure we do it right — cross our Ts and dot our Is,’” Soto recalls.
“If we stick to those pillars and continue doing what we’re supposed to do — double checking and getting it right — we’ll surpass this slogan and take journalism to the next level.”
That said, with ABC15, Soto says he brings a passion for journalism and his efforts to “get it right.”
“I think the love for the community is right up there at the top as well,” he says.
“As a journalist, it’s not typical to stay in one place this long — especially just coming up through the ranks. I absolutely fell in love with Arizona. This is the home to me and my wife for the rest of our lives.”
When he’s not at the desk, Soto and his wife of eight years, Beatrice, enjoy exploring Arizona, supporting various causes and attending sports events.
“We’re very involved in the community and various organization, especially when it comes to events,” he says.
“I was fortunate to be part of many events as an emcee. I married a foodie. She’s constantly telling me about the new restaurants that are opening. After those restaurants, we have to stay in the gym to keep the weight off. It’s a vicious circle.”
He says he loves what Arizona has to offer as much as Valley residents have embraced him.
“They’ve always shown me love, and I hope that they know when I’m on TV or off TV, I do everything with a great passion,” Soto says.
“I give them 100%, and I’m just me. At the end of the day, that’s all I can be, and I hope it resonates with people.”