What feels like 100 years ago now, but was probably more like 10 years ago, I met Ivan Rojas in what was back then one of my favorite bars in the state: La Cabaña.
I was a young lawyer trying to build a law firm and trying to have a good time every once in a while, despite working 60+ hours per week. I loved Latin dancing, though at the time, I could not dance. But I would hang out in this Latin nightclub and watch people dance. I love how so many Latins dance.
Why is dancing so much more a part of Latin culture than American culture? I remember the evening I met Ivan Rojas. Always a gentleman, he offered to buy me a drink. I was a regular at the club which was actually owned by a friend, so I never paid for drinks, but Ivan’s kind sentiment was not lost on me.
Ivan and I struck up a conversation that evening. He told me he had an awesome wife and two great kids named Esteban and Alejandro. He also mentioned that he was an account executive for Latino 100.3FM.
Again, always a gentleman, he asked me what I did for work. I told him I was a lawyer, trying to do God’s work for justice on this earth. He asked me if I had handled cases for Latinos. “Claro que si,” I said, mentioning that at least half my clients were Latinos. I told him that I thank God frequently for my ability to speak other languages, that my ability to speak Spanish was one of the greatest gifts God has given me.
Always a gentleman, but also a salesman, Ivan immediately asked if I would like to advertise on his radio station. Again I said, “claro que si!” Always a lawyer/negotiator, I asked, “what kind of a deal will you give me?“ Ivan assured me that he would give me a great deal, and when all was said and done, he not only gave me a great deal, he also suggested the idea of my doing a Saturday morning legal talk show. Bam! A star is born! Well, not exactly, but I loved the idea right from the get-go, and I immediately went to work to create a live legal radio talk show.
I decided to name the show “Pregúntele a la Abogada Donna.” I would answer legal questions, but I would need someone to help me understand the various Spanish accents/dialects/words that somehow eluded me and my non-native Spanish.
Ivan introduced me throughout the radio station to the General Manager, Cesar Salas and to all the DJ’s from DJ Gato, to Marcos/Sugar Daddy, DJ Travieso, TJ Fredi, DJ Monok and many more. Over the years I came to know Ivan as a hard-working, honorable guy who fled his guerrilla and war-torn country of Colombia in search of a better life for his beloved family.
Ivan is just one of those guys who will always help you if he can. He is trustworthy and prompt and always willing to go out of his way along the extra mile to lend a hand, whether it’s to the children of Saint Jude’s hospital or to a client or friend.
Ivan has distinguished himself in the world of Latin radio, and he has done so with class and panache. We long-ago surpassed the sales representative/client relationship and moved into what I know will be an enduring friendship. Ivan, thank you for your friendship and collegiality and professionalism all these years.
Tune in to the next episode of “Que Onda Con Donna” to learn more about Ivan and his extraordinary journey to today.
“¿Que Onda? con Donna” can be seen on YurView – Cox Channels 4 and 1004 – Tuesday’s at 7:30pm, Wednesdays at 8:30pm, Saturdays at 2:30pm and 8:00pm (EST time)
The author, Donna M. Nesselbush, is a founding partner at Marasco & Nesselbush Law, a Rhode Island State Senator and Municipal Court Judge for the City of Pawtucket. She hosts a Spanish language Saturday morning radio show on Latina 100.3 FM and the “¿Que Onda? con Donna” TV show.