Steve Darling’s tenure as host of Global News Morning may have come to an end, but he’s still making news
In a move that few saw coming, the former morning show anchor announced he’s joined the ranks of Christy Clark’s Liberals—with the hopes of becoming MLA for Burnaby-Lougheed after next spring’s provincial election.
“I spent my career at Global trying to make a difference,” says candidate Darling. “I did in the stories I told and the charity work I did. We tried to stand up for the little guy. This is a different way for me to make a difference, and to hear the stories of the people in my riding, and bring those back to Victoria.”
After nearly two decades as one of B.C.’s most popular TV personalities, this is no pipe dream. In fact, he stands a solid chance of wresting the riding from its current occupant, New Democrat Jane Shin, during the upcoming election, to be held May 9.
However, Darling’s longtime fans are still wondering why he made such a drastic job jump in the first place. For answers, we must rewind to earlier this fall.
It was Thursday, October 6, eve of the Thanksgiving long weekend, and Darling had just wrapped another edition of Global News Morning, which he’d anchored since 2001. Only this time, he had barely stepped away from the anchor desk when he was called into a meeting. When the meeting ended, Darling and Global parted ways. “It was a surprise, for sure,” he says, adding understatedly: “It wasn’t the greatest thing in the world, but so be it. No sense dwelling on it.”
While losing a high-profile job might have rattled the confidence of most, Darling says that wasn’t the case. “My confidence was never really shaken,” he says. “I know we did a good job on the show. There was nothing I could have done differently to have changed anything. It is what it is. [Lay-offs] happen to people all the time. Mine was just a lot more public.”
Besides, he adds, it was just business—not personal: “Media is struggling everywhere. There aren’t a lot of jobs in the industry anymore. I’d been at Global a long time, so I had advanced to a certain level up the pay scale,” he says. “I was part of the union and it was made clear that there was no anchor position available and I would have to accept another job that wasn’t going to work for me and my family. The only real option was to leave that day.”
“Steve has many passionate fans and we were hopeful he would join us for a farewell show,” said Global BC station manager Jill Krop in a statement to TV Week. “In the end, we respect his decision to pursue other career opportunities. Steve will always be part of our extended family at Global BC and we wish him all the best. We look forward to both welcoming him back onto the morning show as a guest and holding him accountable should he be successful in his run for the B.C. legislature.”
To which Darling responds: “For me to appear on a farewell show after the company let me go would have been very emotional and difficult for me. I needed to move on.”
In any case, it was a sad goodbye for all when he returned to the station’s Burnaby offices the next day to clear out his desk. “Everyone at Global has reached out to me—Sophie [Lui], Randene [Neill], Mark Madryga, people behind the scenes. We had a little get-together at the Cactus Club and they gave me a nice gift certificate. We shared some laughs, and some tears. It was nice to get some closure.”
Even now, months after his final show, Darling is still marvelling at the outpouring of support he received from family, friends and fans alike. “I had, like, 600 text messages the day the news broke, and my phone was ringing non-stop. My cellphone battery kept dying,” he chuckles, before adding sincerely: “The response from fans was really touching. It brings a tear to the eye. When I was doing [the show], you hope you’re making an impact, but you don’t know for sure. It’s humbling to know that I made a difference. People still pass by me on the street and say, ‘Sorry to see that you’re gone. I loved you on the show.’”
But when one door closes, another opens, and it didn’t take long for Darling to be contacted about taking a run at politics. “At the time I said no, and so did my wife,” says Darling, who was initially hoping to transition into a career in communications, marketing or PR. “But over a two-week period I started to think I could make a difference if I was fortunate enough to be elected. We had a meeting with the premier and, after that, we decided I would run.”
Despite his lack of political experience, Darling maintains that he’s no novice. “I’ve been asking the tough questions for 18 years now,” he says. “I’ve talked to so many people, been all over the province, and I’ve heard so many diverse perspectives. I have done so many stories on so many different issues. I have had a very unique perspective.”
And he can’t wait to get going on his campaign. “I’m ready to start knocking on doors and talking to people,” he says. “That is what I plan to do until the election on May 9. I’m not taking anything for granted. I know this will be a tough campaign so I’m not wasting any time getting out there and talking to people. I am known as a people person and a new direction in life doesn’t change that.”
Meanwhile, the mood in the Darling household has become sunnier. “My wife was really affected by it,” Darling admits. “She was having trouble sleeping, worrying about our security as a family.” Now, he says, “Jen is behind me 100 per cent. I would not have agreed to do this unless she gave me the go-ahead. She is excited for me and is looking forward to helping me out along the way.”
Such solidarity is admirable, and diehard fans who vowed to turn the channel after his departure should know that Steve Darling is still a viewer. “I have tuned in now and then,” he says of the show he anchored for all those years, “and I wish my friends on the morning show success.”