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This article was published 26/10/2019 (494 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Steve Halinda was a quintessential newsman, a leading figure in Winnipeg’s media scene in the 1960s and ’70s, who picked up a reputation for his smooth, baritone delivery.
For almost two decades with 680 CJOB and the CBC, Halinda ran two of the best newsrooms in the city, braving historic blizzards and media events.
He died on Oct. 19 in Langley, B.C., at age 84.
Born Aug. 2, 1935, in Humberstone, Ont., Halinda got his start in the news businesses after he responded to a call for open auditions at radio station CHOW (now CIXL-FM) in southern Ontario in 1962.
"He started out as a part-timer, a weekend sports reader at that station, but by the time he left, he did manage to end up as news director," said son Greg Halinda.
While working at the radio station, Halinda met a young copywriter named Connie Chicorli, who became the love of his life. The two hit it off immediately, and were married in 1964.
"I think it was love at first sight. She met him coming through the door to work when he was fairly new there. She was actually a year older than him and had grown up in Thunder Bay. Soon, Dad got work there and they moved out," Greg said.
Halinda took a job at CKPR radio and TV in Thunder Bay, before moving to Winnipeg to take a job at 680 CJOB. Greg was born in Winnipeg in 1965, followed by twin siblings Jim and Jennifer in 1967.
Halinda would spend nearly 20 years of his career in the Winnipeg media, working his way up the ranks at CJOB, before moving on to the CBC. In 1978, he served as the president of the Winnipeg Press Club.
Roger Newman, another former press club president, recalls Halinda as a fine reporter and news director, but an even finer human being.
"I just thought he was a great guy, a talented guy, and after he retired, he was missed. He was one of the leading figures in the ’60s and ’70s in the Winnipeg news world. CJOB had the biggest ratings. For years, it was the ratings leader, and he led an excellent news department," Newman said.
"It was just an outstanding operation that he headed. He was a really decent guy, very low key, and he treated his employees well."
On March 4, 1966, daily life in Winnipeg was brought to a screeching halt after a monster blizzard paralyzed the city. Despite the odds, Halinda made his way into the CJOB newsroom early in the morning.
"The road was terrible. He could barely get to work through the snow drifts. The snow was pouring down. He was shocked to not see any snowplows working. So he figured he was going to call the mayor to ask him what was up and what he was going to do about this," Greg said.
That phone call was immortalized in the pages of the Winnipeg Free Press in the following day’s edition of the newspaper. It turns out, prior to Halinda placing the call, then-mayor Stephen Juba wasn’t even aware of the situation unfolding outside his front door.
"The mayor — unaware of the blizzard — thanked (Halinda), rushed to city hall and set up an emergency centre, which subsequently issued news bulletins to all news media," the Free Press reported at the time.
It was far from the only time Halinda was at the centre of a major news story.
In 1980, when the Winnipeg Tribune shut its doors for good, he spearheaded CBC’s coverage of the daily newspaper’s demise, and was ultimately awarded for the spot news report by the former Radio-Television News Directors Association.
In 1982, Halinda took a job at CFRN-TV in Edmonton, which he held until his retirement in 2000. He and Connie later moved to Langley.
It wasn’t his abilities as a newsman that stick out most to Greg, but his abilities as a father.
"He was always very generous with us. He taught us to skate, to ride a bike, to cross-country ski. He led by example, in showing how much he valued family. I really value the things he showed us," Greg said.
"He introduced us to a lot of great things in life. He wasn’t forceful, he didn’t judge, he just really shared his joy of life with his kids."
In his final years, Halinda took up painting and enjoyed playing golf as much as he could. When he wasn’t hitting the links, he’d often watch the PGA on TV, and pull for whichever Canadian golfer happened to have qualified for the tournament.
A few years ago, Halinda was diagnosed with prostate cancer. By the time it was diagnosed, it had already spread.
When he looks back at his father’s final years, Greg said it was clear, even if he wasn’t working out of a newsroom anymore, his father was still a reporter at heart.
"Whenever something would happen, he would always call me up and ask for my thoughts on it. He was always giving his take of what was happening in the news. He was kind of an editorialist at heart, even though that was never his real job to be an opinion guy," Greg said.
"We were always so proud to hear him on the radio or to see him on TV. You’d realize, ‘Wow, he’s up there with some of the best that we’re used to seeing do this,’ like Walter Cronkite.
"Obviously, he didn’t have the national recognition, but he certainly had the voice and skills like anyone of his peers. It was great. He made us proud."
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.