You know her as one half of Nash Nights Live which is syndicated throughout all of the NASH stations throughout the country. Along with Shawn Parr, Elaina D. Smith has been one half of Nash Nights Live since its inception. In a recent interview with New York Country Swag, Smith explained how her journey to Nashville and to being behind the microphone of one of the countries most coveted radio shows has taught her so much. Growing up in Southern California, she always had the ambition to follow her dreams, understanding that she would have to do whatever it takes to make them come true.
Country music was not a prominent genre in Southern California, but she recalls always having a true love for Dolly Parton. From a young age, she knew she wanted to work in the entertainment industry, specifically a show like Entertainment Tonight. “I always loved the entertainment industry, that’s always where my heart was, not necessarily being behind a mic or on the air, I just loved the hustle and bustle of everything that happens and the excitement of live shows,” she tells us. Networking through high school and her first couple of years in college at San Diego State University, she did land a job at Entertainment Tonight, but quickly realized that that side of the industry was not for her. In order to pay for college, she took a job at a local radio station due to their ability to have her work flexible hours as a promotions assistant. After hosting events for the rock station, the program director asked her to audition for a morning show opening. “I ended up sitting with the show for an hour and doing a mock show and I thought that was the most fun thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she explains. “It was more in line with what I thought I wanted, I always knew I wanted to be in entertainment, I loved always working on the edge, that is what makes my adrenaline pump, it felt like a godsend that I got the opportunity to try it.” She recalls this was a right time, right place situation and she was so lucky to have the opportunity to work for that station throughout college.
After moving to Florida for a job opportunity with Cumulus, a mere ten months later, she got a call from them regarding starting a country Nash Brand and a syndicated night show out of Nashville. Her roommates at the time were always playing country music and she started to fall in love with the genre. Going from a small pop station in Florida to a national radio station was huge for Smith who says “I was freaking out that I was going to be on in New York, it was the most exciting thing to me to be on in New York and it still is.” She loves living in Nashville and although she misses her family she is happy that she currently resides in a place that people love to visit. She stays connected with her family through technology, even having FaceTime wine dates with her mom.
She loves how fast-paced Nash Nights Live is and how they consistently bring artists and unique content to country music lovers around the country. She tells us that her favorite artist to interview is Reba. “She is such a good person and in all of her interviews she just always know how to give a great answer, how to engage, and how to make sure she is giving her fans something unique,” she tells us. This past April, Smith was honored to be the very first female announcer for the ACM Awards, which she co-announced with Shawn Parr. She recalls getting a text message weeks after her audition while she was sitting in the movie theatre that said “Welcome to the ACM Family, Congratulations” where she proceeded to freak out and bother everyone else in the theatre she laughed. She explains how the actual experience was surreal, being a fan of award shows her entire life she was so thrilled to get to partake in the show and see everything that went on behind the scenes.
Her most recent endeavor, ‘Women Want to Hear Women’ is a podcast and feature that highlights a different female artist each week. “The title stemmed from a phrase that I have been hearing for years as a female disc jockey that “women don’t want to hear women” and I hear it from older white males all of the time,” she tells us. “They were telling me, a woman, that I don’t want to hear women. I am telling you I am a woman and I do want to hear women. I wanted to start reclaiming that narrative.” This is her opportunity to feature women, allow them to sit down and talk about the struggles they have endured and then to play their music and have them cover another female artist to create a sisterhood. She excitedly explains that it’s been a long time coming but being able to highlight these women is something she is so proud of and that her team at Nash Nights Live has been so supportive.
When discussing what advice she has for young women wanting to pursue their dreams of working in the music industry she says “Just be open to everything. Be open to any opportunity that is there, being a female in country radio and country music, there are very few spots and it is very intimidating. Find your path to get there, your story is how you become who you are.” A common thread among each of our Woman of the Month features is that they all say to find your network of women to lift you up. “That is what is going to be priceless in the end, is having the support of other women and being able to share your experience and figure out together how to navigate this industry,” Smith says.
Elaina’s Current Favorite Song: “Oh What A World” – Kacey Musgraves
Elaina’s All-Time Favorite Song: “Amber” – 311
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