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In this insightful podcast episode, Zander engages in a meaningful conversation with Uzette Salazar, a multimedia superstar with over 30 years in local San Francisco radio. They explore Uzette’s personal journey, her tight-knit family background, and the tragic loss of her brother, Tom, shedding light on the challenges of coping with grief. Uzette’s resilience and gratitude for the hands-up she received along her path create a touching narrative.

Listen to the podcast here

 

EPIC Unexpected With Uzette Salazar Part 2

In early November of 1996, I was on a trip with my parents to Hong Kong. We were coming back. When we got back to the US, we were in LA. My dad was looking at the paper. American Airlines was having this Thanksgiving special, which allowed you to fly from Boston to Chicago on a round trip for $88. You had to fly back on the last flight on Friday. You could fly on Thursday, but you had to come back Friday. My parents said, “Let’s have Thanksgiving lunch with Lucy.”

They got on a plane. They went and had lunch with Lucy. My dad asked her, “You’re almost done with your first semester of your second year. What type of law do you think you want to practice?” She said, “I’m interested in being an assistant DA or a public defender. The problem with that is neither one of those jobs pays a lot.” It’s hard when you get out of law school because you have the law school debt and a job that isn’t paying a whole lot of money.

It’s admirable, but it’s not going to pay the bills.

My dad had seen that in his years on the bench. Dedicated, brilliant assistant DAs and public defenders, who, after a couple of years, had to go into the private sector because they couldn’t continue to only get paid. They had bills to pay. That was several days before Lucy was killed. She would’ve started off there. Where she would’ve gone from there is anyone’s. She was dramatic. She’d be big. Everyone knows this person as a public defender, but she is taking big, high-profile cases.

We started a foundation in her name and a scholarship that we gave to a graduating attorney from John Marshall Law School who’s going into public service to help support their decision to do this. We’ve given 25 scholarships away. It’s been rewarding to do good things in Lucy’s memory. It’s nicer to celebrate her life, what it is that she wanted to do, and the difference it has made in these people’s lives. Money is used to help pay down their law school debt.

 

EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | Uzette Salazar | Unexpected Memories

 

They’re living through Lucy.

Every year, we go to Chicago and have a dinner with all the former scholars. It’s always a lot of fun to find out what people are doing, how that has helped them in their careers, and what they want to do. It’s a great way to keep Lucy alive. It’s much nicer to focus on doing good things in our sibling’s memory than focusing on that dot that is the end of their life. It’s not to forget it, but it’s also to say that’s not the only thing. He had several years with Tom. There’s more to his life than he bought a motorcycle and got hit. He had long, flowing rockstar hair. I want to thank you so much for coming and sharing. It’s always challenging to talk about these things.

It’s always a lot of fun to find out what people are doing and how that has helped them in their career and what they want to do.

It’s amazing how fresh it still is, even after all these years. You had opened up the conversation with it. It doesn’t get any easier. Time may go by, but I don’t think it got easier.

I don’t know if it will get easier. We acquire more coping skills. In my book, I talk about when we first experienced loss; it’s a gigantic life raft. We all have cubbies in our lives and things we can think about. “There’s that nice memory of the day I got my license.” You can pull it out, play with it, and put it back in. When we pull it out, it takes over everything.

As time goes on, we find a way that we can pull out those memories and get them back into the cubby easier. It’s not like it takes over, but there are days when it will be the life raft all over again, and it derails you. It’s not necessarily the big things like December 7th. It is never an easy day, but you know it’s coming. You’ve got to experience the things you do or don’t want to do. You’re braced for it. It’s more of those unexpected reminders that come along. You’re walking down the street, and you see someone who’s their gate is the same as Tom. It triggers you with a smell or a song.

 

EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | Uzette Salazar | Unexpected Memories

 

I like to say to people, “Use that unexpected memory as an opportunity to be happy that you got to remember them now because you didn’t know that you were going to get that opportunity.” Let’s try to make some lemonade out of this thing. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always a good glass of lemonade, but it is like, “I had this opportunity.”

There are songs that come on the radio or in movies. Lucy loved the theater. She majored in theater. One of her favorite plays was Chicago. When the movie came out, I went and saw it by myself. In the first minute and a half, there’s Catherine Zeta-Jones singing all that jazz. I bawl my eyes. I’m like, “How am I going to make it through this movie?”

It’s the song Sister Christian because Night Ranger was popular during that time. He and his little friends would love to think that they knew how to play it. That song gets me a little choked up. A couple of Jerry Rafferty songs get me choked up sometimes. I forgot I had this bracelet and I was looking for a bracelet to wear because I’m wearing silver earrings and I have this silver button right here. I pull it out, and I’m like, “I forgot about it.” The bracelet says, “Anything is possible.” I started thinking, “I need to wear this more often.” It’s a skinny little bracelet. One of the sales girls from Alice Radio gave it to me. It gets me in a better place. Some days are good for me and some days are not.

We all have those days, and it’s all about the choices we make use of that. Every day, I get to choose whether I want to talk about Lucy or not. You get to choose whether you want to talk about Tom or not. We’ve known each other for quite a few years. I was a voice on the phone, but I would call in all the time. It is important that we utilize that choice to say, “I am choosing now to talk about this.”

At one point, you mentioned that you’d lost your brother. I sent you an email. I know that initially, you were like, “I’m not talking about that.” I was like, “Okay, I get that.” It’s hard. We don’t know where all these other sibling survivors are. We don’t have people who understand. There’s that conversation to have where someone else understands. It doesn’t have to be about loss. It could be about someone else who is in broadcasting. There’s stuff that you could start to talk to them. They’ll get what you’re talking about. You don’t have to go and explain everything. It’s a much more satisfying conversation.

 

EPIC Begins With 1 Step Forward | Uzette Salazar | Unexpected Memories

 

When I talk to siblings, some sibling survivors have gone several years without getting to talk about their experience, loss, what it’s been like for them, and what they remember. I always say, “Remember the good and the bad about these people. They weren’t saints. We tend to canonize people.” I’m sure that Tom had times when he was a total s*** to you. I know Lucy was a s*** to me. We laugh and tell stories about them. Do you still talk to your brother and tell stories back and forth about Tom? Do you guys not talk about them much?

Over the past years, there has not been any talk because there’s pressure everywhere else because of COVID. Yes, we talk. We didn’t even text each other. His wife texted me and said something. He’s in a bad mood or grumpy mood. I said, “Don’t forget what the date is. Give him extra love.” She remembered. She’s good at dates. She knew what day it was. She gave him extra love. Personally, I don’t know that my husband even remembers what it is. He’s not good at dates. I don’t believe I said anything to him about it. You might be the first person I’ve talked to, the only person other than that text with my sister-in-law that I’ve talked about it this time around.

I’m honored that you would talk to me about it and everyone else we call.

It always puts a damper on Christmas, but the new year is starting. We’re all here. I hope that things are going to be better for everyone. It’s been a rough year. I’ve had a rough year, but I look at other people. They’ve had a tougher time. I always look at other people and go, “Someone else got it worse than me. I’m grateful for what I have.”

“I just hope that things are going to be better for everyone. It’s been a really rough year.”

It’s certainly been a challenging year on many fronts. I love my house, but I’m getting tired of being inside.

2021 is going to be the greatest.

Uzette, I want to thank you so much for coming on. It may not have been easy, but I appreciate you sharing about Tom. You are such a fantastic person. For those of you reading, she has her own YouTube channel. She does awesome product reviews. Is there anything else that you want to shamelessly promote?

I’m putting most of my force into doing nonprofit things. I left Alice in February 2020, and ever since then, I have been doing some segments for KOFY-TV 20. Most of them have been charitable organizations that fill my heart. That’s what I’ve been doing since then. I do this radio show called HOFMRadio.com. It’s Hall of Fame Music Radio.

There’s a lot of classic and different music that you know and remember in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. I’m looking to get back into Bay Area Radio. I know more people out of radio than I know in radio right now. That’s how bad radio has been for the year. Hopefully, things will come back, and everything will roll around again. Otherwise, I’m going to have to find some new stuff to do.

No doubt that you will find awesome things to do.

Thank you. I appreciate talking to you, and you’ve kept in touch with me. That means a lot to me. I needed this.

I appreciate that you’ve answered my Facebook message and said, “Do you want to be a guest?” It means a lot to me.

We will talk soon. I wish you so much success on your own. Both you and I are going to have a wraparound again.

Thanks so much, Uzette.

Thank you, Zander.

Bye.

 

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