¡Viva Radio!

El Break proves there's more to Spanish-language radio than ranchero music

"It was very hard, but the good thing is when you have a good foundation, the rest of the people will follow. She made a good foundation," says Mayra Nieves, the station's programming director. "She wanted to serve the community and do programming that is interesting."

The new station was built on the idea of creating a bridge to the community — it even has a show that broadcasts Saturday mornings with the sole purpose of allowing callers to ring the host and practice speaking English.

"We want the community to know what Arizona is expecting of them, but also let tell Arizona who these people are and how they are benefiting Arizona," she says. "We are trying to create a dialogue. It's not so bad or awful — people are scared and we try and make something positive in their lives so they can smile and contribute to the community."

Laura Suarez prepares her El Break segment before going on the air.
Brad Garner
Laura Suarez prepares her El Break segment before going on the air.
Tony Arias debates immigration policy on the air.
Brad Garner
Tony Arias debates immigration policy on the air.

It was an idea Avila understood. He got together with his friend and former Nosotros y Tú partner, Tony Arias, and came up with a concept.

"Radio stations really suck. They are mostly national networks and don't talk to people from the community. I saw a need for our people to be given a place to talk," he says. "We created a network of young people and the network is about changing the way we communicate in Phoenix."

But before Avila could start communicating, he had to put together a cast of characters for the show. He and Arias started interviewing people at their favorite nightclubs — places like Sky Lounge and Club DWNTWN — trying to figure out what they'd like to hear.

They called a meeting of friends and acquaintances to see who wanted to be involved with the show. Arias invited his sister Gabby, and Avila invited his friend Nuvia Enriquez, who brought her friend Laura Suarez.

Around a table at Gold Bar coffee shop in Tempe, the concept for El Break was born.

Today's lineup includes the six original members, plus Avila's sister Diali, Sayra Sandoval, and Obed Hurtado. Avila compares El Break to Menudo (the Mexican boy band that gave the world Ricky Martin), and it's an apt comparison.

Each Breaker has a distinct personality. Tony Arias is the proud papa — his son Dante just turned 1 — given to blurting out random but funny non sequiturs. Gabby is quieter. Though given to a wisecrack here and there, she takes things more seriously. It's no coincidence that her segment on the show is about health care, one of the more serious topics they cover. Diali is the quietest of the group (possibly because she's also the youngest), though when she talks about music, she lights up. Ask her to suggest a band for you and she can rattle off several names, with her current favorite, Panda, at the top of the list.

Suarez and Enriquez are best friends, and look — and act — like they could also be related. Both are small and enthusiastic, but Enriquez is more emotional. Her eyes are sad when she talks about Mexico. Her sadness lingers even after she's moved on to happier conversation. If Enriquez brings soul to the show, her counterpart, Suarez, brings laughter. She claims to be shy, but she's always giggling, dancing, making the other Breakers smile.

The newcomers, Sayra Sandoval and Obed Hurtado, joined El Break late last year. The group teases Sandoval, in her Versace glasses, for being the most "Scottsdale" of the group, but she's not so much Valley girl as she is really well-adjusted to American culture. Hurtado, on the other hand, speaks with a thick accent and is more comfortable in Spanish (though his English is very good). If given the chance, he could charm just about anyone with his enormous smile. If you're a woman and he catches you on the dance floor, be prepared to blush. He is, as Suarez puts it, a very "sensual" dancer.

No one, save Avila, gets paid for El Break. Most are in school. They all have weekday jobs, from banker to construction foreman, but they all say they look forward all week to Sunday — El Break day.

Only two, Enriquez and Tony, are American citizens, though they say they feel more Mexican than American. Enriquez was born in Idaho and split her childhood between Mexico and Arizona. "I've always felt trapped here," she says of living in the United States. Enriquez is on the edge of her chair as she talks about how she once dreamed of becoming a Mexican citizen.

"I'm very patriotic to Mexico," she says. "My goal was to finish college over there and study acting. But then, I started getting involved in what I'm doing now, and it's not so much about me anymore. I would still love to live over there, but there's so much we can do here."

Tony was born in L.A. to undocumented parents, returned to Mexico as a baby, then came to America permanently when he was 8. He shares Enriquez's split feelings.

The others are permanent legal residents who immigrated here at different stages of their lives.

Diali, Avila's shy little sister, came with his mother legally, right before she turned 12. She graduated from high school this year, though she spoke only 10 words of English when she first arrived.

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Awesome!. Great report. I'm amazed and very glad. Altough i can't listen to the radio show as often as I would like. I LIKE IT VERY MUCH. As a latina I thank you for taking a look at us this way.


Otra hipocrita fresa que se cree muy gringa, que no mas anda metida en esto para hacerse publicidad, especialmente en este parrafo cuando dice:Sandoval, 20, was born in Mexico City and came to the States at 2. When she was in middle school, her parents divorced and she moved back to Mexico with her mother. After a year and a half in her home country, she found she just could not adjust to the Mexican way of life, so she moved back to America to live with her dad.

Si te has de haber regresado porque de seguro extranabas tus lentes Versace que te apuesto te costaron mitad de lo que ganas, pinches fresas hipocritas si estan tan preocupados por los mexicanos aqui porque no usan su dinero para ayudar a gente que lo necesita en vez de comprar lentes Versace?


La mera verdad son una bola de puros fresas quejones que estan enojados con Estados Unidos porque quieren venir aqui a crear la separacion que existe en Mexico entre los ricos y pobres, quieren demostrar que ellos si fueron a la universidad y pretenden querer ayudar a los mexicanos que estan aqui infiltrandose en cualquier medio de comunicacion posible, cuando lo que realmente quieren es que los gringos vean que ellos no son jardineros ni carpinteros, quieren los gringos los vean como si fueran Elena Poniatowska o Octavio Paz. Y aparte, estan enojados porque aqui no se les hace tanto borlote como quisieran por ser ninos fresas intelectualones, al contrario, la gente los detesta y los aborrece por ser tan hipocritas y por que se mueren por sus quince minutos de fama cuando ni siquiera tienen talento en ningun campo. Y que mexicano tan mas hipocrita es Luis, especialmente en la parte del articulo cuando dice que despues de regresar a Mexico por estar enojado con la prop 200 y no poder volverse adaptar a la sociedad mexicana, entonces quien chingados crees que eres? Un guero de The OC o que a poco los niveles fresas se te subieron mucho mas alto solo porque aprendiste a hablar ingles y porque sabes pedir un Starbucks? Que bueno que vivas aqui y tengas una identidad perdida, porque Mexico no necesita a hipocritas e idiotas como tu que no saben ni porque estan involucrados en tanto desmadre, hablas por hablar y por hacerte famoso usando causas como la de los ilegales para tu propio beneficio.


I am sorry sir, but we DO pay taxes. In clothes, food..etc!. So please inform your self first.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow

Thanks for the enlightening article. It proves that most illegals have no real loyalty to America, or any interest in becoming a bone fide American. They dance around the topic of why they don't want to stay in Mexico. Why is that? I'd like to hear some more specifics about that subject. If they want to protest something or go on hunger strikes, why don't they start by doing it in Mexico City? That's where it's really needed. If more Mexicans stayed put, and worked for change there, to make things better in their home country, I think we'd all be better off, including them. I personally might have a little more sympathy and respect for them if the majority were to do that.


Dear Protesters:I really do not give a damn about your cause. I came to this country from Poland to work and make a better life for me and my family. You want free education paid with my taxes. If you want to protest do it in your country of origen. You want free education, free healthcare, the whole enchilada...PAY for it!!!

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