"I have been deeply honoured for many years by your readers," says Steve Murphy in his instantly recognizable baritone, upon hearing that, given his dominance of this category, he is being elevated to our Hall of Fame.
It's hard not to think of Murphy when you think of television news in Atlantic Canada. The Saint John native has been living and working in broadcasting in Halifax for "28 years and change," having spent the first 19 years and ten months in New Brunswick. "I'm a relatively well-rooted transplant," he says.
It was in 1977 that he first started to work in radio news in Saint John, a full-time position in grade 11 after school, which diminished his grades enough that he went to part-time in his senior year. Upon graduating, he told his parents he was "taking a year off" to work at a radio station. He never did get back to his education.
Though never formally schooled in journalism, Murphy's had more than enough on-the-job training, at CJCH (now 101.3 The Bounce) where he hosted a call-in show in the early 1980s, while also doing on-air editorial bits for CTV's Live at 5. Murphy was 22 or 23 when he started appearing in Maritimers' living rooms offering opinion pieces on the afternoon broadcast. He says that when he now reads transcripts of some of the things he said on air, if he had the choice, he "would probably take some of it back." But he's very grateful to all the folks who gave him a chance in radio and in television.
"I'm indebted to them, they had confidence in me. I learned from very, very good people" he says, mentioning Paul Ski, now Rogers Radio Canada President, and Dave Wright, who mentored Murphy and from whom Murphy took over the Live at 5 hosting duties in the summer of 1986, eventually succeeding him again on the anchor desk on the six o'clock broadcast in early 1993.
These days he does two news shows, the noon broadcast on the A channel, formerly ASN, and the supper-hour show. He helps develop stories and he writes and produces, which seems like an enormous amount of work to do twice a day, five days a week.
"I don't know what it's like to have a job I don't love," he says. "I serve at the pleasure of my audience and my employers. The people I do it for believe in it, and the relationship I've had with the people in the Maritimes, I've never felt like a stranger any place that I've been." Murphy's commitment to the community extends further than his work: He's the co-chair of the 2008 campaign for the United Way of Halifax, and predicts that the recent economic upheavals are going to result in tough times for the more vulnerable among us. "This is no time to be timid when it comes to our well-known generosity," he says.
Murphy's seen the TV news business change, with the advent of the 24-hour news cycle, cable news and the internet, though he doesn't have any doubt as to what his part continues to be in the scheme of things.
"The internet is the most democratic thing that's ever happened to journalism. at six, we're going to do the traditional news of the day. Our role as editors is even more critical. We've done the searching already, so you don't have to spend hours online ."