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Standing in Your Power and Redefining Beauty
The first thing you notice when you meet Nikki Balch is that
she’s just as bubbly and gregarious in person as she is on the air. It’s her
laid back, uber approachable personality that has earned her a friendly
reputation, as well as top spots in the field of broadcasting. You can catch
her sharing her passion and zest for life every weekday morning on The Beat 92.5.
The Early Days
Nikki Balch was born in a small town outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia. She grew up with her single mother until the age of 10, at which point she got a new sister. Balch felt fulfilled and found herself surrounded by love and support. Her mother nurtured and guided her, yet let her choose her direction in life. “I feel blessed because I grew up with a mother who always taught me that I can do whatever I want in life,” says Balch. “I was encouraged to follow my heart.
”What’s even more interesting is that though she grew up in a small town with a small town mentality, she didn’t prescribe to the status quo. Her environment was predominantly white and on the conservative side. Some expressed racist or homophobic attitudes, for example. Yet Balch never took these as universal truths, despite never having been exposed to much diversity.
As Balch reflects on her early days, she admits she always felt different – and that was okay. From a very young age, she developed an ability to focus on the positive and cultivated an optimistic attitude. She questioned why the world was the way it was, and challenged others. For Balch, going against the grain when she felt compelled to came naturally. There was a strength inside her that helped her pave her own way in life.
After high school, Balch moved to Calgary. Unsure of what she wanted to pursue, she took a year off and worked at a balloon boutique. She then moved back to Halifax and took radio and television arts at Nova Scotia Community College, aspiring to be a journalist.
Upon graduation, she did a radio internship in Moncton, which later became her first radio job hosting a show called Nikki at Night. Then she moved back to Halifax and worked on a radio morning show for five years. She was content, but felt the draw to a bigger city. In 2011, she moved to Montreal and fell in love with its vibrancy. Balch worked at Virgin for three years, spending a few of those years bouncing between Ottawa and Vancouver. In 2016, this East Coast girl officially made Montreal her home and began working at The Beat 92.5.
On the Success of The Beat 92.5
Balch could not be happier working at The Beat 92.5, headlining her show Mornings with Nikki, Sam & Andy. She’s especially proud that the show is heralded as the top rated English music morning show in Montreal. Not to mention, she’s the only woman who headlines such a show.
A critical part of the show’s success is due to the genuine friendship between Balch and her two co-hosts Sam and Andy. There’s a mutual respect and understanding between them. The trio are real friends, despite their varied backgrounds.
The diversity and the differing points of view that emerge create a magical synergy on the show. As in real life, they thrive on discussing and sharing, and most of all, laughing. The objective is to both entertain and inform, from deep issues to more mundane topics. “I love what I do,” says Balch. “I’m grateful I have such a platform and opportunity to be myself and truly connect with people.”
On Doing Live Radio
Live radio is a high-pressure situation, but Balch thrives on it. Oddly enough, she’s a perfectionist, constantly feeling like there’s room for improvement. In that respect, she admits that live radio would seem like a job that would drive her Type A personality nutty. And yet, it’s the perfect match.
Being comfortable doing live radio and being in the public eye has been a work in progress. When she reflects on her earlier days, she vividly remembers her anxieties and worries that she wouldn’t know what to say, or worse yet, that she would say the wrong thing.
But through the years, Balch learned to control her inner critic and developed more and more confidence. When she’s on the air, she’s extremely candid and honest, which is likely why audiences resonate with her. “Through this process of really becoming comfortable with who I am, and in turn being so vulnerable with our listeners, it has all really contributed to my own growth and healing,” Balch reveals. “It’s about being open, and honest, there's so much strength in vulnerability, and if it inspires others to do the same, that’s more than I can ask for.”
On Body Image
In most parts of the world, the pressure on people – especially women – to look a certain way are immense. And in the world of entertainment, that pressure is amplified tenfold. When Balch was young, many people around her constantly made remarks about her weight. Although some of these remarks may have had well-meaning intentions, this focus on her “body type” left a deep imprint on her. As a result, she developed a complex. It got progressively worse in her teens and early twenties. She frequently lost and gained weight, and struggled with eating disorders. Until one day, she realized that this was simply not working for her.
In that pivotal moment, Balch saw how she was essentially bullying herself and abusing her body. She was trying to make her body be something it couldn’t be. It got to the point where her obsession consumed her life. It was the first thing she thought about when she woke up, and the last thing she thought about when she went to bed. “It didn’t make sense to starve myself just to look a certain way,” says Balch. “When I lost weight in the past, people around me would tell me I looked great but I was dying inside. I was miserable. That’s when I made the commitment to do what’s right for me, and that begins with what's on the inside.”
The Importance of Self-Care
Once that commitment was made, Balch spent her time researching and became more educated in the realms of health and wellness. She began to love herself, through a practical approach. She gave up the notion that she wasn’t good enough and made an effort to consciously make decisions that would help her rather than hinder her.
After a lot of inner work, introspection and therapy, she came to a point where she genuinely accepted herself. Since then, she has learned how to nourish herself with proper self-care. Every morning, she spends some time in silence and meditation to help ground her. During the week and on weekends, she’s careful not to over-exert herself and takes time for herself to recharge. On top of that, she limits her social media time to 30-60 minutes per day and exercises regularly.
Although maintaining balance is always a work in progress, Balch is grateful she figured out what works for her. She adds that balance means something different for each person. At the end of the day, you need to be true to yourself, whatever that means. “It’s about taking the time, putting in the work, and trusting yourself,” she says. “Everything, including success and happiness, comes from that place of authenticity.”
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