Years before Lucy Lopez became a funny, sassy fixture on Power 96 — as the sole female cohost of the hit music channel's popular Morning Show — she called into the radio station on a whim. While stuck in traffic. To rail at the on-air hosts.
It was around 2001, and a young, quick-lipped Lopez was in the car with her homegirls, idling on the Palmetto, listening to her favorite station. Then a couple of Power 96 hosts, trying to be funny, delved into a rant about Hialeah girls that played on cheap stereotypes.
Lopez was fuming. So she called in. "Hey, Power 96," she told the hosts, "if it weren't for Hialeah girls like me, your whole station wouldn't have a job!"
Lopez dove into an earnest, artfully constructed rant of her own, in defense of her hometown and its young women. Then she hung up. The station called back. A programming director wanted to meet the passionate Hialeah girl with the rapid-fire mouth. The meeting that followed evolved into Lopez's placement in an overnight slot and then into her current gig hosting Miami's most famous morning radio show.
Along the way, Lopez honed her feisty, hysterical on-air character — an exaggeration of herself, she says, mixed in with a bit of her best friend, sister, cousin, grandma, and mom — and interviewed everyone from Kanye West to Pitbull to Bruno Mars.
Raised on Saturday Night Live and the Beastie Boys and influenced by Amy Schumer and Howard Stern, she connects with her listeners by asking stars offbeat questions and keeping it real — like when she recently "dropped an F-bomb" on Robin Thicke while inquiring about his personal crisis. "He was like a deer in headlights," she says.
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As a radio personality, Lopez throws herself in, not only because she knows that's what her fans want but also because she's captivated by her subjects. "I truly admire the artists," she says, "the whole journey... how they get there and how they make that piece of music."
Now "30-ish," the diminutive but tireless and refreshingly affable Lopez is also a wife, to Geno Pulido, her partner of seven years, and the mother of two little girls, Amelia Sunshine and Avery Luna. "I wake up every day at 3 a.m.," Lopez says. "My real day, as I call it, kicks off at 2 o'clock, when my 5-year-old comes home from school."
And decades after growing up in a first-generation Cuban-immigrant family in a first-generation part of town, Lopez is still a Hialeah girl with a quick mouth. Only now she's one with a hugely popular radio presence, who sees herself as a voice for so many other women listening in their cars, who might just hear Lopez and be inspired to embrace their own Miami identities.
"It's a big responsibility," Lopez says, "because I can't let them down."