For the past 13 years, Omar Velasco and Argelia Atilano have been a fixture on the Spanish radio station K-LOVE 107.5 FM where they host their show from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., Monday through Friday
Radio brought them together in more ways than one.
More than simply co-hosts, they also fell in love and were married. For the past nine years they have shared their moments of happiness, joy, challenges and funny anecdotes with their audience.
It’s a journey they now reveal in more intimate detail in their first book “Amor Al Aire” (Love’s in the Air). The book, published by Harper Collins, was released this month.
“It’s our story since we began working together more than 13 years ago here at K-Love — how we began our personal relationship, as boyfriend and girlfriend and how we formed a family,” says Velasco, 43, who was born in Jalisco, Mexico before moving to the United States at age 15.
He lived in Pacoima and San Fernando, attending San Fernando High School, and also California State University, Northridge (CSUN). The couple now live in Woodland Hills.
“In the book we focus on the question we’re often asked by radio listeners as to how we deal with working together and having a personal relationship outside of work, which is not something normal,” Velasco adds.
“We tell our tale, which is not always easy. We've had difficult moments like any couple. We share anecdotes about our family, like the birth of our girls,” says the father of Camila, 7, and Anabella, 5.
“We think it's a love story,” he continued. But also of inspiration and also as a way of saying thanks to our public that has always expressed their love to us for so many years. It's about sharing and thank them and return a little bit of what they give us.”
Foundation and Scholarship
Sharing is truly the main word here.
The book is a way for the couple to raise funds to help the community that has given them so much, they say. One hundred percent of the profits from the sale of the book go toward their respective foundations.
Atilano, 41, began her charity — the Argelia Atilano Foundation — five years ago at Loyola Marymount University, at her alma mater. The foundation has provided scholarships to at least a dozen girls, mostly from East Los Angeles, where she was raised.
Now Velasco is giving back. Starting next year he will offer two scholarships of $2,500 each to two “Dreamer” students from San Fernando High School who attend CSUN.
Velasco said he was inspired to do this, in part, by his wife’s commitment to this cause in the past few years.
“Dreamers” are undocumented students brought to the United States before the age of 16. This immigration benefit launched by President Obama in 2012 gives them a work permit and a reprieve from deportation for two years. Nearly a million young men and women have benefited from the program.
“I want to help these kids,” said Velasco, who came to the United States legally but knows of people who “lack papers” and “live in the shadows.”
He said he knows firsthand what it’s like to have to learn a new language and adjust to a new country.
“Everybody needs help, but I wanted to do this given the situation we’re facing in the news, the disparaging talk about immigration, and how people are talking about immigrants. The truth is that immigrants come here looking for a better life,” Velasco said emphatically.
CSUN has a large “Dreamer” student population. For many of them, “this is the only country they know,” Velasco said. “They’ve been here since they were little, in some cases don’t even speak Spanish and they didn’t know they were undocumented until they applied for the university. It’s very difficult for them to continue their education.
"I want them to know that they’re not alone, that there’s people who want to help them. I want to express to them my support, so that they don’t give up on their dreams because they don’t have [documentation]. There are many people who want to give them a hand.”
The requirements for the Omar Velasco Dreamers Scholarship Fund include an essay about their experiences, and graduating from San Fernando High School.
Velasco said he will leave the decision of who receives the scholarships to a special committee at CSUN.
In that respect it is different from Atilano, who does read some of the essays for her scholarship (which also features a 3x1 matching contribution from LMU). Her scholarships are for women only.
Living And Working Together
Mutual inspiration is one of the bonds of their relationship, which has been public for nearly a decade.
They are mom and dad at home and co-workers at the radio station, with multiple obligations aside from that.
They coordinate their week to always be ready to pick up their girls from school, and rely on Argelia’s mother — Mariana Atilano — to take care of them when they simply can’t be around.
But being together 24 hours a day can “be dangerous,” Atilano admits, and they give themselves time “to clear the air.”
They do that in part by driving separately.
“We’ve discovered that driving together doesn’t work for us. We either get to the house or work in not the best of mood,” Argelia said.
Separate driving also leaves enough wiggle room to attend to their respective hobbies and personal time.
Atilano spends her time exercising. She does Pilates two times a week “where I take out all my anger.” She also finds going to the market “therapeutic” and helpful; she’s very selective about the food they consume to help keep Velasco's cholesterol levels under control.
Every month she pampers herself with a massage and a facial, which she pays for in advance to make sure she goes. There are lunch dates Atilano has with colleagues from the station or with other friends in the radio industry. And she’s involved in community events, as panel moderator or as master of ceremonies.
Velasco prefers spending his free time going to the movies and staying home.
While they may share a lot of their lives with the people who listen to their show — something that Atilano describes as a “radio reality show” — there are things that are best left for their own amusement.
“You learn to figure out what you can and can’t share,” Velasco said.
That’s the easygoing “couple” dynamic that people have come to expect.
“Amor Al Alaire” can be purchased through www.AmoralAire.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Northgate supermarkets, Target and Walmart. It retails for $13.99.