'Be aware of your opportunities': Bob Steele retires from CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive
Friday marks Bob Steele's last day as host of CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive
Bob Steele's life-long love affair with music has taken him to concert halls across the continent — and ultimately paved the way for a three-decade career with the CBC.
Steele, the host of Afternoon Drive, CBC Radio's regional afternoon show for southwestern Ontario, is retiring.
Friday marks his final day in the host chair.
A musical first act
Born in Scotland, Steele moved to Windsor as a toddler. In 1964, he saw The Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show and knew from that moment he wanted to be a musician.
"I was offered my first recording contract when I was 17 years old by Warner Brothers of Canada. I left high school and moved to Toronto," Steele explained.
"I (ended up turning) down the contract...I just wasn't ready."
Despite this, Steele went on to pursue a career in music, first behind the scenes with Warner Brothers, and then with a band called "Steel River" — which he notes was not named after him.
When he returned to Windsor in 1977, Steele dabbled in private radio, wrote commercials and jingles as a freelancer, and decided to study mass media at the University of Windsor.
But before he could complete that degree, music came knocking again, this time in the form of a duo with friend Bob Bone, called "Roberts".
"We were a two piece band using technology, which was just beginning at the time. We were one of the first doing a big five piece sound with a two piece band — and that really took off."
'You need more than a good voice'
After a few years touring the United States, "Roberts" came to an end, and Steele returned to Windsor for good in 1987.
"I cold-called Rick Alexander, who was the manager of CBC Windsor at the time," he explained, making a door knocking sound on the desk. "Can I be your announcer?"
Steele was turned down flat.
"Rick politely told me that 'No, you need more than a good voice these days — you have to be a journalist,'" Steele said.
"I thought that was it."
A short time later, a chance encounter at a party with Beatrice Schriever, then-producer of CBC Windsor's morning radio show, proved to be his in.
"We got to chatting and she said, 'Well, how would you like to do a weekly entertainment column?' — and that's where it began."
Over the next three decades, Steele would do myriad jobs for both CBC radio and television.
"I've done everything — reporting, writing, associate producing, hosting...the only thing I haven't done is sports."
While much of his work pertained to the arts and culture scene in Windsor and Essex County, Steele was also a television weather presenter and fill-in news anchor.
When Barb Peacock retired in 2009 as host of Crosstown, CBC Windsor's afternoon radio show, Steele was tapped as her replacement. The show was given a new name: The Bridge.
In 2014, the show's focus expanded to include all of southwestern Ontario, including London-Middlesex, and was renamed Afternoon Drive.
When asked to name the biggest change to broadcasting over the last thirty years, Steele immediately mentions technology; more specifically, the influence of social media.
"That's where news happens, right? It's not a press release anymore; it's not somebody calling in a tip - it's people posting things on Facebook or Twitter and you go, 'that's news!'"
No immediate retirement plans
As for life after CBC, Steele mentions catching up on a backlog of housework, cooking for his wife Carol and perhaps taking a stab at writing a book.
"There are no immediate plans," he said.
'Well, I haven't played guitar in 30 years, so I might pick that up again," Steele said with a laugh.