Darling dances with conservation: 'I'm changing my ways'

Carol Crenna
For BC Home Magazine

Newscasters have to be effective communicators to sort and present the information they feel is most vital to keep television viewers up-to-date. That's not an easy job when there's so much coming from so many sources.

And while not all of the day's events are uplifting, Global BC's Morning News co-anchor Steve Darling calls himself a "glass half-full guy."

"I think there's a lot of good in the world," he says. "If you have a positive attitude then good things happen."

A guy who loves to tell stories

Darling's optimism is revealed in his choice of movies: black and white classics. Two favourites are It's a Wonderful Life and The Alamo.

'These movies were defined by great stories, and this is where my love of storytelling comes from," Darling explains. "Even when it's an unimaginably difficult news subject, there is always a story within a story – one that needs to be told. Then you allow viewers to create their own opinions about it."

We allow newscasters into our homes every day, so it comes as no surprise that they too, are often put under a spotlight. And Darling gamely answered questions about his eco-habits as a member of BC Hydro's Team Power Smart and shared what he does when he's off-air at 9 a.m.

Hockey, followed by dancing

After leaving Global for the day, Darling goes for a workout, and at least one day a week he can be found playing hockey at a local rink. But for the past two months, Darling has been trading in his skates and ice time and training with a dance instructor to compete in a Dancing with the Stars-styled contest – a charity event for Crossroads Hospice in Port Moody.

"I've got a really good program; we may have a chance to win," says Darling, ever the optimist.

Well-known as a former sportscaster, Darling now plays hockey, baseball and golf more than he reports on them. The sports enthusiast was once running so late for his golf tee time that he hit the first drive while he was still wearing his dress shoes. "I actually hit it pretty well," he says.

Life as a Power Smart leader

Darling joined Team Power Smart to get the word out about energy efficiency, even at work.

"We obviously need power as a TV station, but we've worked to improve basic habits and reduce energy usage. For example, we're as efficient with lighting as we can be, and we have a huge recycling department to collect all batteries, cans and paper."

Darling, along with wife Jen, their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Hayley, and dog, moved into a house in Pitt Meadows last year. Because it was newly built, it needed few energy upgrades.

While curtailing usage within the home is important, Darling notes that he has learned that it's better to buy new, efficient products than to sparingly use older, energy-hungry ones. During his home's construction, he ensured that walls were well-insulated, and the basement was weatherized.

The family purchased new ENERGY STAR® appliances, changed all bulbs to CFLs and installed digital programmable thermostats.

"People say they want to turn down the thermostat, but then forget to. This ensures that when we're not home or going to bed it is automatically turned down," said Darling, explaining the advantages of a programmable thermostat. "We also don't need to put the heat up as high, because the heat doesn't escape though doors or windows."

Darling's wife takes the lead

Jen is the one who takes on the home's recycling, ensures that windows and doors are closed, and turns lights off.

"I often leave the door open absentmindedly and she's always closing it behind me," Darling admits. "I have changed my ways: Although I prefer to wear shorts at home – even in winter – when we started turning the thermostat down a few degrees, I simply put on a pair of socks to keep warm."

Other smart shifts: Darling washes clothes in cold water, using eco-friendly detergent. The dishwasher isn't turned on until it's fully loaded, and Darling already encourages his daughter to turn off lights.

"She is tall enough to reach the switch now: Getting them started early is the key to creating good habits long-term."

Next up on Darling's eco-agenda? Composting – after seeing his neighbours do it successfully.

Busy on the charity circuit

Darling's contributions to charity are as important as his commitment to the environment. He volunteers at 40 to 50 non-profit events per year, and half a dozen charities are near and dear to his heart, including Ronald McDonald House, for which he is honorary chair.

"I've also volunteered for BC Children's Hospital for 12 years and promoted giving to its cancer ward, because you never know if and when a loved one will need treatment.

"This year, our close friend's daughter, who is the same age as our toddler, was diagnosed with leukemia. It's given us new perspective as we deal with an illness that has touched us."

For the past nine years, Darling has been co-anchor of Global TV's Morning News, and while he has to deliver serious information, he also has to have a sense of humour. After all, comedian Jon Stewart was voted America's most trusted newscaster last year (according to a poll conducted by Time magazine).

This story also appears in the December edition of BC Home Magazine, which includes a Team Power Smart section. A complimentary copy has been sent to Team Power Smart members.