Junkin looking forward to 'next adventure'
This evening, CTV Toronto viewers will see the last appearance by Jim Junkin as the station's veteran crime reporter, and he is fine with that.
"I feel great," he said Friday afternoon. "Forty-one years is a long time, and I think it's my time to retire.
"I think it's the end of one adventure and the start of another. I don't know very much about retirement, I've never done it before," he joked. "But we'll see. I think it's going to be pretty good."
Junkin, who has been with the station since 1969, is retiring shortly before his 65th birthday. He's been on the crime beat for about 25 years. His last story will go down as the takedown by OPP officers of an erratic driver on Highway 401.
His career began almost a half-century ago, when he worked part-time for CHWO Radio in Oakville.
People noticed his deep, distinctive voice. Other radio jobs followed. In June 1969, CTV Toronto hired Junkin as its weekend anchor.
Junkin recalls seeing the very first CFTO newscast in black-and-white television on New Year's Eve 1961 and thinking he wanted to be a broadcaster some day.
As he leaves, the show broadcasts in high-definition digital colour -- and 3D no longer a futuristic concept.
While the technology of broadcasting has changed dramatically, the fundamentals of the reporting job have not, said the winner of a Radio and Television Digital News Association lifetime achievement award.
"The job is get the facts on TV. I always like to get the feelings, because there's a 'people side' to what we do," Junkin said.
"I think viewers relate at a feeling level, as opposed to an information level. I think it will stick with them longer if you present them with the people side of the story."
Over the course of his career, Junkin has been exposed to hundreds of tragedies. His Monday story was about a construction worker killed in an industrial accident in Vaughan.
"You've got to set up a mechanism so it doesn't weigh on you," Junkin said.
"You learn very quickly that you've got to separate business from the rest of your senses. Otherwise, it will stick with you and become very heavy."
One way Junkin copes is by thinking that these events would have occurred no matter who was reporting on the story.
However, it's easier to wall out some crimes than others. Junkin, a father of two, said crimes involving child victims have always bothered him.
"We (wonder) the same thing that the people at home do: Who would do such a thing? Why did it have to happen?" he said. "But we have to focus. It's all about focusing on getting the information on TV to the people."
After 41 years, the stories blur together, but the 1979 train derailment that led to the evacuation of thousands of people in Mississauga is probably the biggest one, he said.
Junkin said he likes to do good-news stories, such as a free bicycle program for children, to balance off the grimmer stories.
These days, people have been talking to him about his looming retirement, but he's always found viewers to be very kind when he meets them on the street. And he's grateful for all the online messages since his retirement was announced -- including one from his Grade 10 basketball coach.
"They've always been warm and receptive to what we bring them. And that's great. That's part of the CFTO tradition is that we were always accepted in the city."
To those viewers, he said thanks to the people for supporting CTV Toronto. "They had a choice, and they chose to support us. That was nice."
Junkin will be leaving on a trip to Italy and France next month, then will take a Mediterranean cruise.
When he returns in early October, the next phase of his life will begin -- hitting the open road in his Winnebago with Angel, his Maltese-poodle cross.
"She's the owner. I just drive the motor coach," he joked.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Tom Hayes