Nina Hajian

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Women To Watch” series, written by Charese Fruge on April 19, 2022 

Nina Hajian is one of the hosts of Westwood One’s New Syndicated Top 40 Night Show “Eliott & Nina.” The show, based out of Atlanta, is a little over three months old. “I’m in a new city that I need to explore, with new people that I need to take the time to know. Our show is so new, so a lot of my energy has been going into watering it and helping it grow,” she says of the job so far. “Normally my side hustle list is long but right now I’m just trying to live! I did have a podcast called ‘Guilty Pleasures and Growing Pains.’ That will be resurrected with a new name and a fresh coat of paint SOON!”

Nina has a decorated radio resume which began in Seattle, one of three cities she calls her hometown. “I always say I grew up between three cities: Seattle, Baltimore, and New York. I have such a hard time when people ask me where I’m from or what I am (nationality) because I’m just a mix of a lot of things and a lot of places,” she explains. “But I love it! The confusion has been part of the adventure. My dad is from Iran and my mother is an East Coast girl that gave me her sass and my German/Irish side. Seattle is where it all began career wise. I was at KISS 106.1 for 10 years (I did everything there) and my last year or so I pulled double duty as a member of the sports radio morning show on KJR-A. Now, it wasn’t because I knew sports. I reported traffic and made them laugh with my witty banter. Ha! It was the only time radio actually helped me get dates.”

“After Seattle, I then jumped to Sacramento, CA where I co-hosted the morning show on NOW 100.5 while also serving as a feature reporter on weekends for ‘Good Day Sacramento.’ I was there for four years,” says Hajian. “THEN I LANDED MY DREAM JOB IN NEW YORK CITY!!!! I co-hosted “Shoboy in the morning” with Edgar Sotelo on 92.3 AMP radio. That dream ended when the station flipped formats after three years. Then, B96/Chicago called, and it was an opportunity I could not refuse. Again, my journey in mornings continued there as I served as co-host of the morning show for just over three years with Gabe Ramirez and one year with Drex,” she says. “Now, I’ve been in Atlanta for just over three months where I work with Eliott King on our Night Show.”

How did it all start for Nina? “Well…. once upon a time I thought I was a genius!” She says. “I was going to be a singer and I was going to learn how to get my songs played on the radio, so I got an internship at a radio station. I was hosting and performing at a spot in Seattle when one of the jocks from my station saw me. He said, ‘So, you sing, you host, but nobody knows?’ His name was Jerry Potter and he encouraged me to explore the on-air side. I became close with our midday personality, Kristen the Island Girl, and she mentored me. We worked together for countless hours and put together an aircheck. Marcus D. Najera and Mike Preston didn’t hate what they heard, and they let me pull an overnight shift. I puked the first time I cracked the mic and forgot to plug my headphones in BUT it was the beginning and the rest snowballed from there. I found a new love and it was radio.”

“Once I really got that going, my dreams quickly changed,” says Hajian. “I no longer wanted to be a singer I wanted to host a morning show in New York City (I also wanted to host TRL but my interview at MTV didn’t go so well. They told me nicely that I needed to lose weight by ‘encouraging me to get a trainer’ and blah blah it was hilarious! I felt like I was in a scene out of the movie “Knocked Up”). But I digress. So, when I saw that 92.3 had flipped again, I knew the job was going to be mine,” she says. “I stalked Rick Thomas (the PD of AMP) and I was determined to get him to notice me. I went to Walmart and bought every kind of ball you can imagine. Baseballs, basketballs, fireball, etc. and I had an office basketball hoop custom made for him. In the shipping box, I included a card with a picture of me and my balls that said, ‘I’ve got my balls ready to go to be the co-host of your morning show.’ He CALLED!!!!! After meeting Edgar, and a few other hoops, I got the job. I had never felt so happy in my entire life. I did it! I was going to New York,” she says. “While I was there, I was honored with 2 Gracie Awards for my work. Last year I was honored again with another Gracie for my work at B96. It might seem silly, but I was never really ‘really good’ at anything. I was always there, but never really noticed, so to be recognized in this way is so special to me in so many ways.”

“The cool thing about radio is that for the most part we all really do look out for each other,” says Hajian. “When my time at B96 had come to an end I moved back in with my parents in Seattle. Jeff Rizzo from RCA connected me with Louie Diaz who then introduced me to Eliott, and my current journey began. Eliott and I made airchecks through cleanfeed while I was on my bed in my parent’s house completely unsure of what I was doing or what was going to happen. Eliott and I hit it off and Louie is the absolute best. Thankfully, the work we did was enough to get us this job and here we are.”

“As for the path I want my career to take moving forward, this is a tough question for me because I always used to be so clear about exactly what I wanted and how I was going to get there. But right now, I honestly feel like I’m going through one of those growth spurts. I love what I do, and my goal has always been ‘to do life together’ and touch as many people as possible in a positive way. I want to continue to facilitate real honest conversations, help people, laugh, and grow ‘together.’ But I really don’t know what that looks like yet. I’m personally growing and incubating ideas as we speak.”

You can’t have the kind of resume Nina has and have not faced challenges in the business over the years. “I hate to say that being a woman has been one of my biggest challenges but it’s true,” she says. “Times are changing, and I have also been very fortunate to have wonderful men in my corner, but it didn’t come easy. I was a laugh track, put in my place, my appearance was questioned (THIS IS RADIO) not listened to or taken seriously for the longest time, I had a partner who used to call me stupid, and he would turn my mic off every time I said something he didn’t like. I wanted to quit! I hated everything and didn’t know what I was doing anymore,” says Hajian. “But thankfully I met other women experiencing similar things along the way and we became close. We helped each other. I now have radio sisters for life. I learned to stand up and use my voice. I learned I was only going to be treated the way I allowed people to treat me and eventually I started navigating my way through my career differently.”

Nina’s advice to women who want to get into the radio business: “I think being aware of what you bring to the table is important, but I also think it’s important to know that you will always have more to learn,” she says. “That goes for both men and women. The difference for women is that we have to be more conscious about how we speak. Speak with confidence and take up your space. The other important thing is to grow your support system and surround yourself with other likeminded women because the strength and knowledge that is exchanged in that space is so powerful.”

In her spare time, Nina stay’s busy, especially when getting to know a new city. “I like to cook, and I love wine!” She says. “I make up recipes and one of my favorite things to do is cook a big feast for the people I love. Games and drinks to be followed obviously. I’m also a plane hopper. My family and friends are all over, so I fly to them, or we meet in new places for adventures. I’m also always binging something!” adds Hajian. “I just finished season two of Ginny & Georgia on Netflix and randomly stumbled on a show called Bosch on Amazon Prime. I love rom coms and true crime.”

Something else you should know about Nina: “I’m a dinosaur nerd. I love them! I used to dig for fossils with my little brother in our backyard and now I’m a regular at museums with dino exhibits,” she says. What keeps her up at night? “The fear that someone is hiding in my closet. No matter how many times I check I always feel like someone is watching me,” she says. “I live alone, and I scare myself all the time. FACE PALM EMOJI!!!!!” But she does manage to calm down and find balance in her life through exercise and family. “I’m really close to both of my parents and I’m a proud auntie that is obnoxiously obsessed with my niece and nephew.”

As for what we have to look forward to from Nina: “Selfies and pics of my food! Kidding!” She says. “There is a lot I’m working on to be honest. Mental Health and education are two things I’m very passionate about and I’m marrying the two in a special way that is slowly coming together, but it’s too soon to share all the details. I’m also working on my new lifestyle podcast but it’s not here yet. My priority is growing the ‘Eliott & Nina Show’ and investing in my personal life. I have big house fantasies and I dream of family Sunday dinners to balance out the madness.”

Follow Nina Hajian @ninaontheair across all platforms