UA grad Suzette Rodriguez has her finger on the pulse of pop culture

By Ane Pulu

While juggling her jobs as a radio host, vlogger and podcaster, Suzette Rodriguez said she strives to encourage others to embrace their truest self.

“With social media influencers and all these public figures, kids see that and they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s what I have to do to be famous’, or, ‘That’s what I have to do to make money,’” she says. “No, you have to be who you are because that’s the only thing that’s going to make you happy. You just have to be authentic.”

The diminutive Rodriguez has long, black hair and dark lashes that bat just as fast as the break of her smile.

While studying film at the University of Arizona, Rodriguez worked for Hot 98.3, a local radio station where she learned the skills required to produce a show for radio. Now, at the age of 26, she divides her time between three different radio stations, plus a morning show throughout the week.

She is on air daily with: Johnjay and Rich from 5 to 10 a.m., 104.7 Kiss FM from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Hot 98.3 from 2 to 6 p.m., and Wild 94.9 on Sundays from 3 to 7 p.m. She talks about her day, celebrity gossip, trending news, contest giveaways and promotions.

Bill Ryan, who produces JohnJay and Rich, described her work ethic as “almost incomparable. I thought I worked hard and then I saw what she’s doing. I’m worried about burn out with her.”

Rodriguez attributes her work ethic to how she was raised.

“I was raised by a single mom who had to work three jobs to take care of me. I saw her work so much. That’s what I thought we were supposed to do, no breaks, no nothing,” she says.

Aside from her radio work, Rodriguez vlogs with her boyfriend for fun and creates content for her podcast, “Be Raw.” There, she says she opens about her life in depth and engages in discussions in which she highlights inspirational quotes and the vitality of being genuine.

“I feel like my purpose is to push the youth to be authentic, to be real.”

Rodriguez says she must prioritize time with her friends, family, boyfriend, and even herself because she can get too involved with her work life. When her reality begins to become altered, she said she recalls times in her childhood, like playing in the streets of Mexico with her cousins and showering with an ice-cold bucket of water to help ground her.

“Every time I’m feeling like something’s not right or everything around me is too ‘fufu,’ too much money, I’ll be like, ‘I need to go visit my cousins, I need to see my family in Mexico.”’

One thing that hampers herself is being emotional. Her best friend of 10 years, Samantha Ruiz, jokingly says, “Everything makes her cry. When she’s at the movies and it’s not even a sad part, she’s crying. She’s really into her feelings.”

Ryan adds, “Deep down she is a softie. It’s a gooey center in there. She will get emotional in the drop of a hat.”

Ryan recalls the time he hired her to the station in 2017. Contrary to her sensitive side, he boasted of her energy and her contributions.

“2018 was the greatest year the show has ever had. Suzette Rodriguez is a huge part of that. A lot of the credit goes to her for appealing to an audience we couldn’t reach before.”

Ruiz, who met Rodriguez in high school, says her friend’s best traits are loyalty and humility. When Ruiz needed a place to stay, Rodriguez opened her home to her for three months.

In addition to her podcast and her YouTube channel, Rodriguez says she’s proud of her new clothing line.

For now, Rodriguez said she sees herself staying in radio because she loves it. She says she only hopes to send positive messages to her listeners, even when doubters attempt to obstruct her goals. Rodriguez has been bashed online and over the phone by listeners.

The 26-year-old radio host emphasizes, “I refuse to let them get to me.”