JR Cardenas

JR is the second of six boys born in Fresno, California to immigrant parents. His mother and father would move from city-to-city in search of work. They worked in the fields with long hours and six day work schedules — so, JR looked for attention in other places. Since the age of 7 he looked up to actors such as Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Lee and the Tonight Show’s Johnny Carson. JR learned many basics of theatre in High School. He loved entertaining and was also the leader of a Folklorico dance group. At the age of 13, JR decided to join a band in which he soon became the lead singer.

At the age of 18, JR decided to move to Phoenix, AZ and pursue a career in radio. By 1999, he interned for a local radio station and soon was on air, hosting a morning show and learning the trades of entertainment. In 2001, JR began traveling to Los Angeles to film television commercials. By 2003, he was on a television show in one of Phoenix’s leading networks where he won a Telly Award for host of the year.

Currently, JR is working with an old friend, Vanessa Ramirez, co-hosting Cox7’s Su Vida as well as other Cox7 specials. You can watch them every Sunday at 7:30pm & 9:30pm as well as Wednesday at 8:30pm on Cox Ch. 7 / 1007 (HD), online at cox7.com, on your mobile device by downloading the Cox7 app, Roku, and Cox On DEMAND Ch. 1894.


Vanessa Ramirez

Vanessa is currently a co-host of Cox7’s Su Vida as well as other Cox7 specials. She is a native of Phoenix, AZ where she graduated from Maryvale High School and Grand Canyon University. Vanessa earned her degree in Communications and Broadcasting.

Vanessa has been hosting Su Vida for several years. “I really enjoy discovering local events, places to chow down, artists and our community’s back stories so I can share the information with our viewers.”

When Vanessa is not hosting Su Vida or modeling, she is the in-game host at the Arizona Diamondbacks home games.

Vanessa is full of energy and always on the go, but she makes sure to carve out time for family, staying fit, and finding local gems that she can share with Cox7 viewers!

Adventures in Nature:

Student Nature Photo Contest Winners Announced

[TUCSON]  — Ten photographs out of 1,200 submissions were selected as finalists in the 2016 Adventures in Nature Student Photo Contest sponsored by The Nature Conservancy, Cox Communications and Arizona Highways magazine. The student winners were honored during an awards ceremony May 4 at Western National Parks Association in Oro Valley, with the top five winners receiving cash prizes from Cox Communications.

The winners are:

1st place: Randy Davidson, 18, Prescott High School, for “Under the Stars”

2nd place: Wyatt Mendez, 18, Tucson High Magnet School, for “Preying Mantis”

3rd place: Tanner Charnstrom, 17, Pinnacle High School, Phoenix, for “Afternoon Glow”

4th place: Mary E. Siml, 15, homeschooled in Tucson, for “Sky Island”

5th place: Madilyn Olson, 15, homeschooled, San Tan Valley, for “Double Rainbow”

Rounding out the top 10 were:

Mary E. Siml, 15, homeschooled in Tucson, for “The Great Expanse”

Lily Cate Smith, 14, The Gregory School, for “Green Bug on a Flower”

Michael Bray, 15, Walden Grove High School, Sahuarita, for “Web of Life”

Lydia Yates, 16, Poston Butte High School, for “Itsy Bitsy”

Tyra Hughes, 18, Skyline High School, Mesa, for “Salt River”

First place winner Randy Davidson took a dramatic night photo of the Milky Way. He said he researched the setting (Dosie Pit near Prescott) and timing (10:40 p.m.) of the photo for maximum effect, and added a silhouette of his friend to anchor the photo to the earth. He hopes to study natural resource management and perhaps minor in photography. His parents are Anita Davidson and Larry Davidson of Prescott.

Second place winner Wyatt Mendez took a stunning macro photo of a green praying mantis set against a red flower. He took the photo near Cave Creek in the Chiricahua Mountains, where he hikes often and searches for invertebrates to photograph. “Getting this none-too-happy mantis to stand still in a good position for more than half a second was no easy task,” he joked.

Tanner Charnstrom took his third place photo in Upper Antelope Canyon. A diagonal blast of light is set against the undulating gold curves of the slot canyon. Tanner hopes to study filmmaking with a minor in photography. “Photography,” he says, “helps me improve my filmmaking abilities.”

Mary Siml, the first place winner in last year’s photo contest, returned this year with two black and white photos (Sky Island and The Great Expanse) in the top 10. Mary says she loves getting out in nature and wants to pursue nature photography. “I love living in the Sonoran Desert where I can walk out my door and capture amazing images of nature.”

Contest judges were Jeff Kida (Arizona Highways photo editor), Rick Wiley (Arizona Daily Star photo editor), Mark Skalny (corporate and nature photographer) and Bob Billups (Nature Conservancy photo volunteer) Judging criteria included technical merit, creativity, uniqueness, visual/emotional impact and artistic vision.

You can see the 10 finalists’ photos in a slideshow at nature.org/arizona. The photos will also be published on-line on Arizona Highways and Cox Communications media.

For more behind-the-scenes photos of “Adventures in Nature: Student Nature Photo Contest Winners”, event held on May 4th on Oro Valley, please click here.


tncThe Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. To learn more about our work in Arizona, visit nature.org/arizona.


PrintSince 1925, Arizona Highways magazine has brought the beauty of Arizona to visitors and natives alike through its award-winning photography, travel journalism and steadfast commitment to discovering the state’s treasures. Helping to drive tourism to and through the state, Arizona Highways has subscribers in all 50 states and more than 120 countries.


coxCox Communications is the third largest cable provider and a multi-service broadband communications company in the country, serving nearly 3 million residential and business product subscribers in Arizona.