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Alumna Talks Her Way to the Top

Alumna Talks Her Way to the Top

Argelia AtilanoThe art of talking is not easily mastered, but through the years Argelia Atilano ’97 has strived to perfect the form and more people are listening closely.

More than a million listeners, from Santa Barbara to San Diego, tune in every hour to the morning radio show that Atilano co-hosts on KLVE 107.5 FM. Characterized as an educational station that the whole family can listen to, KLove features themes that vary from culture to news, religion, relationships, celebrities and, of course, the latest romance hits.

“Our mission is to entertain and make people’s lives happier,” said Atilano, who also fills a weekly television segment as a movie reporter for Univision, the leading Spanish media company in the United States.

George Clooney, Shakira and Enrique Iglesias are just a few of the celebrities she has interviewed. “Doing radio and television gives me the best of both worlds,” said Atilano. Latin entertainers are the focus on KLove, but her TV movie updates allow her to chat up famous Anglo stars too. “And, yes George Clooney is just as handsome in person,” she jokes.

It’s hard to believe, but the charismatic communicator started at LMU as the shyest person in her class, and she dreaded public speaking. Numerous classroom presentations and a DJ spot during her senior year at KXLU, LMU’s radio station, gave her the chance to become comfortable in front of a microphone and the confidence to speak to diverse crowds. A journalism internship and a career as a reporter followed after obtaining her double degree in communications and Spanish.

Knowing that there is a serious ethical responsibility associated with being a communicator, Atilano approaches her role on the air with caution. Radio listeners, particularly, have embraced Atilano and Omar Velasco, her co-host and husband, as authoritative voices for the Latino communities in Southern California. She acknowledges the need to back up what she states and make clear her personal opinions in order to maintain her credibility with the public.

Atilano does, however, use her influence when speaking to high school students about the importance of going to college. As a first-generation college student, she understands that there are many obstacles to overcome, especially for Latinos who may not be as readily informed about higher education opportunities.

“There are supportive parents who want their kids to achieve what they didn’t, but many others are afraid to let their children go,” explained Atilano. “My mother was highly criticized by our family for allowing me to go to college.”

Atilano’s pioneer journey to LMU paved the path for her two younger sisters, one of whom is also an LMU alumna, to pursue higher education.

The reality for many families is that paying for tuition is the biggest obstacle. But, according to Atilano, an education should be seen as an investment. “Your education will remain with you for the rest of your life, long after you are done paying back loans,” Atilano said.

The alumna financed 75 percent of her education expenses with financial aid and scholarships such as LMU’s Mexican American Alumni Association (MAAA) Scholarship, which continues to help deserving students today.

“I always tell young people who aspire to a career in communications, if you believe in something, work hard to make your dreams come true,” Atilano said.