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News anchor Gord Steinke leaving the desk to hit the open road

After a thirty-year ride in the news business, Edmonton broadcaster ready to take his foot off the gas

Retiring Global Edmonton anchor Gord Steinke is preparing to focus on the past as he looks to the future.

The 63-year-old news veteran, stepping down in August after 30 years, is eager to expand his study of Canadian history--including that of his war hero grandfather.

"I want to walk in my grandfather's footsteps," said Steinke, referring to Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Herbert Ford, who fought at Vimy Ridge and Passchendale.

Steinke, who wrote a best-selling book about prohibition-era mobsters in 2006, plans to visit the battlefields in Europe and eventually write a book about his grandfather too.

The award-winning newsman fondly recalls visits with the war hero at his Saskatoon home while he was a boy. “He would sing while I played accordion." (In 2012, Steinke paid tribute to his grandfather when he was appointed Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of 15 Edmonton Field Ambulance.)

Born in North Battleford and raised in Saskatoon, Steinke says he displayed journalistic tendencies from an early age.

"I used to walk around with a tape recorder and ask questions of my aunts and uncles. I was acting like a reporter,” Steinke recalled.

He also put together a newspaper with a schoolmate during grades three and four. "After mom typed up our stories the school secretary would roll off copies on a Gestetner machine."

Young Gord’s love for music grew after his parents bought him a guitar, prompting him to start his first rock band when he was 14 years old. The first song the group did was BTO's 'Takin Care of Business.'

Throughout high school and for seven years after graduation, Steinke played in rock bands across Canada. But life took at turn when, at 23, Steinke fell ill at a tour stop in Sudbury, Ontario.

“It was tough. I realized I needed to make a switch."

Steinke returned to Saskatchewan and obtained a journalism degree from the University of Regina.

He was hired as a researcher at CBC radio in Regina, but a short time later, his boss told him he had “a nice set of pipes” and suggested he make the switch to on-air.

“A lot of people smoked at their desks and so they lit my script on fire," said Steinke of the unusual way his then co-workers helped him alleviate his nerves before going on-air for the first time. “I pulled the script away before it got badly burned. But it took away the nerves."

Months later, Steinke's radio job was eliminated, prompting him to switch to a television anchor position. “They said 'cut your hair and tie your tie.' So that's what I did."

Steinke stayed in Regina for a couple of years before moving to a similar gig at a Minneapolis news station. In 1992, he landed the co-anchor job at ITV in Edmonton--where he's been ever since.

Over the last 30 years, Steinke has anchored an estimated 14,400 broadcasts, highlighted by his coverage from the scene of the Fort McMurray wildfires in 2016.

Steinke has also always found time for numerous charities, especially those close to his heart. The anchor teamed up with MADD after his sister, Jan, was killed by a drunk driver in 1996. He even produced an award-winning album called ‘Something Wrong’, with a portion of proceeds going to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving. Honoured with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Governor General in 2017, Steinke is also active with charities including No Stone Left Alone and motorcycle fundraising rides.

Throughout his career, Steinke says his passion for playing music never waned. "I’ve always been in a band. In broadcast there are always musicians around."

As he prepares to retire, Steinke says the "crazy times" of the world today concern him and he urges anyone interested in a similar career not to hesitate.

"We're the watchdogs of power. We need objective journalists now more than ever."

As for what's next, Steinke says he and wife, Deb, who regularly take trips on his Harley-Davidson, plan to do more travelling and spend more time with family.

“I'm also looking forward to not looking at a clock."