For nearly two decades, Angelenos woke up to the voice of radio personality Argelia Atilano and her husband Omar Velasco.

Together, they hosted a popular morning radio show on KLOVE. So listeners were shocked when they recently announced they were taking a break from radio. But you'll be happy to hear that Atilano has a new project. "LA Times Today" talked to her about her life, career and East LA — the place where she first found her voice. 

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  • For nearly two decades Angelenos woke up to the voice of radio personality, Argelia Atilano, and her husband Omar Velasco

  • Together, they hosted a popular morning radio show on KLOVE.

  • When they recently announced they were taking a break from radio, listeners were shocked

  • Since then, Atilano has accomplished a big milestone and published her first children's book "Grandes Dreamers"

For many Angelenos, KLOVE is an iconic LA staple, like the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"El Show de Omar y Argelia was on for 18 years, from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., every day. From music to talk, you name it. We had it all," said Atilano, who grew up listening to KLOVE and says it was a full-circle moment that she got to work for this iconic station. "You grow up in the hood in the barrio of East LA, listening to this station, and you end up owning your show. It's so nice to know that the number one show — general market — was many times' El Show de Omar y Argelia.' And that's also a beautiful thing because when we closed this chapter, we closed it being number one — general market. So yes, that's also why it was a shock to LA. But that's also a beautiful goodbye. You know you want to leave on top."

When it came to auditioning for KLOVE, Atilano says she mostly did it in honor of her mother because that was her favorite radio station. And she did not think this experience would change her life in so many ways.

"They were looking for a female voice to accompany the star, at the time, Pepe Barreto. I went to the audition with Pepe Barreto. I don't know how I did it, but I did it, and I landed the gig. I did it mostly for my mom. I thought, how cool would it be to be on the air, on the radio, on her favorite radio station, where she gets to listen to me every morning. And so that was what drove me to audition, not knowing that I would fall in love literally in that station with the co-host — not Pepe, but later Omar Velasco, who came in to try to fill in some big shoes after Pepe Barret left. My life changed. My life changed completely," said Atilano.

Atilano always promised herself that she would come back to her community and give back when she made it in her career.

"I always wanted to come back to Garfield High School. No matter how many years go by, once a bulldog, always a bulldog with a clear head, a strong arm and a true heart. I always say that I was reborn in East LA," said Atilano. "Why in East LA? Because at the school, at Garfield High School, I finally found my voice. I fell in love with my culture. I discovered so many things about myself."

Principal Andres Favela of Garfield High School said Atilano has inspired students for many years.

"She's on the airwaves; she's on TV. I mean, she is a personality that people in our community know. But despite all that, Argelia comes back. We have graduations that she speaks at, events that she is here for, and she has given to our future college students via scholarships and things like that. And so, her presence is still felt, despite that, she went to this school years ago."

When Alitano amoved to East Los Angeles in her teens, there were negative stereotypes about the community, but she says living there is nothing like the negative ways it was depicted.

"When you come to East LA, and you get to live in this neighborhood as I did, you see a different light, and you want that to be highlighted in movies and the news. I want people to know that I come from East LA, and I didn't turn out that bad," she said. 

Back in the 1980s, when Atilano was a kid, she never saw Latino figures being represented in books, history class and school lessons. And when she noticed that there is still a lack of representation today, she decided to do something about it.

"Fast forward to 2018, Camila, my daughter, came home from school and told me she had to write a report. She had to choose a woman who has made an enormous contribution to this country and showed me the list. When I saw the list, my heart broke because I didn't see any Latina figures. I said I think I want to write a book about Latina trailblazers who have contributed in enormous ways, you know, to this country, through steam programs, arts, science, robotics, politics. And so, I found Ana Alvarado, who also happened to be a phenomenal artist and had this dream of illustrating a book with this concept. Three years later, here we are, delivering 'Grandes Dreamers.' And so, this is my new adventure and my new journey as an author, and it fills me with pride."

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