Today we introduce Nina Cardona, reporter and host for WPLN, Nashville Public Radio’s All Things Considered, weekdays from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. Many of us tune in for our daily dose of arts, music, pop culture and politics imparted by this familiar, resonant voice. Nina delivers insightful and provocative commentaries on everything from family portraits in the Belmont Mansion to forest life on the Cumberland Plateau. She graciously joins us today to report on the best bedside reads, great meals in Nashville, and her beloved Maine Coon.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Rutherford County.
When did you know you wanted to be in radio broadcasting?
I sort of stumbled into the job. My degree is in Music History; I started at WPLN as a classical music host. Seven years later, I made a leap over to the news side of the station and have been there ever since.
Which, if any, of your articles were particularly difficult to compose?
Maybe I’m just blocking the hard times from my memory, but nothing stands out as being the most difficult to write. What does stand out are certain good moments like crouching on a back porch floor to mic the feet of a champion buck-dancer or an elementary school principal interrupted from our interview by a bear hug from at-risk kindergartners.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Tell listeners the same details you’d tell your friends if you were telling them about this topic over a glass of wine, because that’s the fascinating stuff.
What advice would you give other young women pursuing similar careers?
Don’t be too quick to ask the next question. Most people will fill in a beat of silence after their stock answer by restating things a more interesting way–or adding a detail that makes it all make sense.
If you could choose another career, what would it be?
Once upon a time, I trained to be an opera singer. I’m glad I didn’t choose that path, yet I can’t help but wonder how it would have turned out.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I can be something of a homebody. That quiet time on the sofa is vital for recharging my batteries.
What is the last great meal you enjoyed in Nashville?
I’m glad Nashville has so many fine restaurants, I do intend to try them–and I know I’ll be glad when I do–but I keep opting for the city’s best comfort foods like breakfast at Monell’s, a breast quarter from Hattie B’s (I’ll take mine hot, please) or the black bean nachos at Calypso Cafe.
Where do you take out-of-town guest when they visit?
The reading room of the downtown library and the crazy, muraled Egyptian revival sanctuary at my church, Downtown Presbyterian.
What other hobbies or interests do you have?
I dabble in photography, all sorts of crafts and open water swimming.
Would you identify yourself as a cat person or a dog person?
I really like other people’s dogs, but I’m absolutely a cat person. We currently share our house with a cuddly Maine Coon named Kippie and a playful tabby called Toonces.
What books are on your bedside table?
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Ecuador. My mother was born there but I’ve never managed to visit myself.
What are your carry-on essentials for travel?
Earbuds and tons of podcasts.
What excites you most about Nashville today?
When I was a kid, it seems like our local pride was a quiet, passive thing that always involved comparing the city to some other place. These days we are fired up to be Nashville, not the next Charlotte or a little Atlanta, but Nashville. There’s still some of that valuing-ourselves-by-
If you could change one thing about Nashville, what would it be?
Can we agree to stop referencing the “It City” thing? That was great, but let’s keep chugging forward.
What is your favorite way to relax and unwind?
Watching embarrassingly bad television with my husband at my side.
What tracks are on the top of your playlist this summer?
I’m really enjoying Scratch My Back/And I’ll Scratch Yours, the project where Peter Gabriel covered other musicians’ songs and, in return, they recorded new versions of his.
Name three things you can’t live without (excluding God, family, and friends).
Good loose leaf tea, my husband’s homemade salsa, something–anything—to read.
Thank you, Nina!
And special thanks to Ashley Hylbert, who each week provides StyleBlueprint with amazing photos of all our FACES of Nashville. To see Ashley’s website, click here.