Sitting Down With Gord Steinke

Lemmy

If you’ve watched TV in the last two decades the chances of you seeing Gord Steinke is an absolute certainty. The man is a legend in our city. Whether he’s talking current events, riding his motorcycle, or slappin’ the bass with his band, Gord Steinke is a fixture in our city, and I was lucky enough to speak with him. This is part of our conversation.

Baggedmilk: In the 20+ years you’ve been broadcasting in Edmonton is there a story that you’ve done that stands out the most?

Gord Steinke: That’s a tough question. There have been so many over the years. From our soldiers deployed to Afghanistan, Whyte Avenue fires, broadcasting live from Smoky Lake fires, Pine Lake tornado.. Mayerthorpe Massacre. They all stand out. I really enjoyed getting out and exploring small towns in a series called Your Town. I met some amazing people and learned a lot about our provinces colourful past.

BM: Any other stops along the way?

GS: I also worked in the U.S. for a while at the All News Channel at KSTP in Minneapolis. Lots of stories still stand out from that time. Gulf War, Jeffrey Dahmer trial, John Gotti, invasion of Panama.

BM: Is it still fun coming to work every day? What keeps you motivated?

GS: A ton of fun. We have a very bright, enthusiastic creative team here at Global. There’s always a lot of laughs during the day which is important when you’re dealing with serious issues that affect so many people. And in the news business every day is different. We start fresh each morning, and you never know what kind of stories you’ll be covering.

BM: Did you ever think you would see an Oilers playoff drought that lasted nearly a decade? How do you think it has affected our city? Has there been any effect?

GS: As a huge Oilers fan I’ve seen the ups and downs. From the days of Pocklington to Katz. Never in a million years did I think there would be a drought like this one. The fans here are true blue at heart, so loyal, and with all the recent player and coaching changes I’m as optimistic as everyone that they’re getting back on track.

BM: As someone that has reported on many highs and lows in our city I’m curious to know what you think the Oilers mean to Edmontonians?

GS: This is a huge sports town. The legacy of the Oilers continues to define this city. You can’t really think of one without the other. Wherever you go, if you mention you’re from Edmonton, eventually someone brings up the Oilers and their best memories of the glory days.

BM: I know you’re in a band and love playing music so I present you with a Sophie’s choice: Broadcasting the news or being up on stage with your band? Why?

GS: Two different animals. Performing with musicians before a live audience is really near and dear to my heart. I was on the road with bands across Canada for seven years. Great memories, and every time I get up to play and sing I get a rush.

Doing a live broadcast is about as exciting as it gets too. The newscast is live with no delay, so what you see is what you get. As with music you always want your last newscast to be your best one. Of course that’s impossible.

BM: Speaking of playing music, I have to ask about when you met Gene Simmons.

GS: I met Gene Simmons’ tour manager several years ago. I suggested would it be possible to ask The Demon if he might be interested in donating one of his basses for an upcoming Kids With Cancer Society fundraiser (I’m on the board of directors). Within two weeks Gene sent me a video message in full stage gear saying he was donating not one but two basses. Those basses (a Punisher and a Battle Axe) have since raised over 120 thousand dollars for Kids with Cancer!

BM: Did it you keep in contact afterwards?

GS: A year later I was invited to join the band on their Western Canadian leg of the Monster Tour starting in Kelowna. Quite the experience seeing behind the scenes of such an amazing rock ‘n roll machine.

BM: Do you have a favourite memory of touring with your band?

GS: While I was flogging a couple of CDs I’d written in the 90’s and early 2000 (some of the proceeds went to anti drinking and driving programs after I lost my sister Jan to a drunk driver in 1996), I had the opportunity to play some cool rock festivals around Alberta. The best part about these shows was we got to meet our heroes who were also performing. Everyone from Deep Purple, Rick Derringer, Pat Travers, Lemmy from Motorhead, Headstones, April Wine, The Tubes, Jefferson Starship…the list goes on. It’s been an amazing experience.

BM: It goes without saying that you’ve played in a place or two in your day so I’m curious about your thoughts on how will the Ice District will transform the downtown core over the next decade?

GS: So exciting to see what’s happening downtown right now. I enjoy taking my bike through the downtown core every now and then just to really get a good view of all the changes. You can feel the electricity and excitement as our city is being transformed into a world class facility for events of all kinds. I’ve been in a lot of major markets in North America and I think the design of the new arena and the surrounding buildings are all ultra cool and modern. It’s really going to put Edmonton on the world map and step up our reputation ten-fold around the globe.

BM: I know that riding a motorcycle is a big part of your life and you’ve transitioned that passion into the Look and Stepper Revving Up for Kids’ Charity Race. How did this get started and how did this year’s event go?

The idea came out of a proposal from Look & Stepper homes. After a couple of meetings we came up with the name and it wasn’t long until we had a lot of people on board. That was 10 years ago and since then the ride has raised nearly 2 million dollars with 100 per cent going to families through over 55 programs and services. Terry Evans from K97 is a huge supporter and does so much to spread the word.

One of my favourite parts of the event is The Parade of Heroes, where we take the kids for a Sunday afternoon ride through Hawrelak Park. I learn so much from the kids on the back of my bike about their cancer and it’s so touching to hear how courageous they all are. They’re all such incredible little fighters. The coolest thing is there are more and more success stories thanks to the generosity of Edmontonians.

BM: What other charities are you involved with?

I’m also involved with Ride For Dad (annual motorcycle event that raises money and awareness about prostate cancer), and the Toy Run with 630 Ched for Santa’s Anonymous is always a blast to see old friends, help out a good cause and maybe get up and jam with the band at Hawrelak Park.

I’m still enjoying talking to young authors and history buffs about my book Mobsters and Rumrunners of Canada (Crossing the Line – U.S. publication), which became a Canadian best seller.

BM: Where else can we find you?

GS: Not too big into social media, but I enjoy sharing some of my experiences and promoting our newscasts on twitter at @gordsteinke

WRAP UP…

Every time I do one of these interviews I think that I’ll start getting used to talking to people that I’ve “known” forever but it never seems to happen. I’ve watched Gord Steinke do the news since I was a kid, and for him to take a few minutes of his time to chat with me was incredible. I encourage all of you to read up on the charities that Gord is involved with, and get involved if you can. I can’t thank Mr. Steinke enough for chatting with me and promoting our city. This is a great man, and I appreciate him taking the time to speak to me.