“I brought a lot of joy, let me tell you,” she said. “I did a lot of free announcing of benefit dinners and dances, community events. Without my being there, the word would never have actually gotten out. It was a big thing for the community for me to be able to do that, put the Tejano music out and keep everyone updated on all the fairs and festivals, and other happenings on the Tejano scene.”
Ms. Avina served as a bilingual announcer, as much to benefit the non-English speaking Latino community and keep them informed as to draw closer to her audience on a personal level. Her radio show had hundreds of loyal listeners who would call in to dedicate songs to loved ones.
“I felt proud to bring out what I was doing—bring out the Tejano music,” she said. “I was just able to bring joy to families every weekend. People couldn’t wait until Sunday for the program to start—the cookouts, birthday parties. Everybody planned everything around that time when I was on and it just made me feel good people let me into their homes.”
Ms. Avina readily admits her departure from the airwaves is bittersweet. While she’ll miss connecting with listeners, she wants to devote her Sundays to her own family and watching her grandchildren grow up.
“People were calling up, saying ‘What are we going to do without you on Sundays?’” she recalled. “We’d sit down and talk and listen to you. But I said, ‘Yeah, you know how much I’ve missed? I was a very hard decision. I still had passion for the music, but my passion to be there every Sunday just was not there anymore.”
Ms. Avina was never paid for her radio gig. The show failed to gain any sponsors along the way, too. She finally decided she had missed enough family birthdays and holidays—Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day among them—only able to take off four Sundays a year with a substitute D.J.
“I grew up with it, I love the music—I just have a passion for it,” she explained. “I love to dance. The words to the songs— I love everything about it. Being at the festivals, trying to keep the music alive in the community and even with the younger generation, it is amazing how I have a young radio listening audience. They listen like clockwork every Sunday.”
Ms. Avina has two grown children: Rebecca, 34, and Michael, 36, as well as two grandchildren, ages 10 and 6. She has been married to husband Mike for nearly 37 years, marking their latest wedding anniversary just before her final radio show. Her radio “retirement” also will allow the couple to travel more. Camping is a favorite weekend hobby.
Ms. Avina, 54, also has an ailing mother and will have to help provide care. Many of her fans will miss her, but understand and appreciate the reasons for her departure.
“She said, ‘You’re going to be missed, but your family has missed you more,’” Ms. Avina recalled one listener telling her. A male listener called to tell her thank you and tell her he had been listening to the show for a decade, but admitted he had to hang up before starting to cry.
Listeners will still have B-Net Radio and www.tejanofm.com on the Internet and other Tejano music sources, but nothing with a local flavor such as Lady Di. The first hour of the radio program was devoted to recorded song dedications from as far away as Texas. Listeners have called to thank her, and a waitress even presented her with a free meal during a recent trip to a restaurant, because the employees played her radio show in the kitchen every Sunday afternoon and evening.
“A lot of people would play my show during their family events, and the party was over when I was off the air,” she said with a proud grin.
Ms. Avina’s grandparents came from Mexico and worked as migrant farmworkers. Her father was born in Texas, but grew up and graduated from high school in Bryan. Her mother was born in Fostoria. She still works full-time at an Adrian-based business and lives there as well.
Her most unique moment in the past dozen years occurred last year, when Tejano artist Rubén Ramos [of Rubén Ramos and the Mexican Revolution] called her radio show right after winning a Latin Grammy award.
“We were the first radio station he called as he walked off the stage,” she said. “We were the very first call. He called live as he was stepping off the stage. That was awesome. My station—it’s known all over.”
Tejano music still will remain an active part of her life. Ms. Avina and her husband enjoy traveling to Texas whenever possible to attend Tejano music festivals and award shows and rub shoulders with many of their artists.
“It’s been a wonderful past 12 years,” she said. “There’s not a D.J. that can say they’ve had an audience like mine.”