Singing and acting star Jenni Rivera was loved as much for her troubled love life as she was for her singing and acting.
Two of Houston's most prominent Latin radio DJs, who've followed Rivera's career since the beginning, told Local 2 that despite all her accomplishments and accolades, the 43-year-old will always be remembered as "a woman who spoke for other women."
"She was already big. Whoa, she's going to be bigger now," said Beto Najera, morning co-host of Mega 101 KLOL radio station.
"It's like, 'Oh, my God, is this really happening? Is she really gone?' And it's just shocking," said Eli Escobar, morning co-host of Mega 101 KLOL radio station.
As news of Rivera's death played almost continuously on many Spanish language news broadcasts, Najera and Escobar talked about a woman who pulled no punches and always spoke her mind.
"She's always talked about how hard her life has been, her love life and we all know about her life," said Escobar.
"This is really big, this loss because I can say maybe half of the city listened to her music," said Najera.
Najera and Escobar said Rivera's popularity was only growing and she was on the verge of crossing over into American mainstream television with a planned sitcom. Already a major singing star, Rivera was recently awarded Billboard Mexican Music Female Artist of the Year and Banda Album of the Year. Rivera was also a star of reality shows like "I Love Jenni" and a judge on "The Mexican Voice."
Najera recalled asking Rivera during an interview if she wanted to be like the Kardashians in her show "I Love Jenni."
"And she said, 'Yes,'" he said. "I mean, she was really straight always in her interviews."
However, more than her talent on stage, Najera and Escobar said it was Rivera's openness about the troubles in her own love life that brought her a loyal following. Escobar said Rivera never held back.
"That's why they could relate to her. They saw her [and thought], 'That's me. She's going through the same thing. She's an everyday person. She's just like me and that's why I love her,' said Escobar. "Because of how they connected with her on a personal level, as a fan, everything in between. Jenni was everything for them."