Entertainment feature

The Steep Climb of Janel Steeper

Photo by Sean Sisk

Stu Schwartz, Angie Poirier, and Janel Steeper— you never met six nicer people.

Before you jump to the assumption that whoever wrote that sentence can’t count, you should be aware that all three personalities, who collectively form the popular MOVE 100 morning team, are Geminis (so’s this writer, but let’s not complicate things that much!) Those born under that sign tend to be playful, quick-witted, social, and, as their dual nature dictates, shy.

It’s a string of adjectives each member of the MOVE team uses to describe themselves, despite their differences in backgrounds and professional experiences.

Montreal-born Schwartz, a.k.a. “Stuntman Stu,” has been a fixture on the local media scene since the late 1990s. Poirier, the proverbial “local girl made good,” has been around almost as long. As for Steeper, she’s the new kid on the block—at least, Ottawa-wise. An import from Southwestern Ontario, the London area farm girl studied Radio and TV at Niagara College. At first, she hemmed over which medium to hitch her professional wagon to.

“I didn’t know if I wanted to do TV or radio,” she confesses. “It’s one the few programs in the country with a three-year diploma where you can learn both. I ultimately went the radio route—but I use a lot of my TV skills in my day-to-day work. Radio is not just talking on the air anymore: We are on camera a lot. Whether that’s doing hits on CTV, commercials, or social media videos. The shooting and editing skills I developed have really come in handy in everything I do. You have to be a multi-talent these days to survive.”

Once radio-fixated, Steeper set out to score a regular gig on a morning radio show. And she was willing to do what it took to get there: the long, nomadic apprenticeship of the on-air aspirant. It’s a path that took her to Yellowknife, Wingham, Chatham, Owen Sound, London, and Fredericton, to name but a few of the moves on the way to MOVE.

“Radio is not an easy career to get into,” the long-haired brunette admits. “There are limited entry-level positions, so you need to be willing to relocate. I wanted to accelerate my career quickly. I kept looking for better talent development and guidance. I wanted to hone my craft, excel, and ultimately, land in a major market. I made a lot of personal sacrifices to get there, missing countless birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays…not to mention limited time with my family and close friends—but hey, in the end, Ottawa!”

Relocating to the nation’s capital in 2018, the country girl was happy to find that nature was in such proximity. “You can escape it so easily here,” she enthuses. “I can paddle board down the Ottawa river, walk along the countless trails, or in fifteen minutes, be hiking in the Gatineau hills.”

She’s also crazy about her job, a gratitude she owes, in part, to the largesse afforded her by Schwartz and Poirier, who have known each other forever. “With any relationship, it takes time for everyone to get to know one another and feel comfortable,” Steeper theorizes, “but with Stu and Angie, it all happened very quickly and naturally. It helped that I knew that I was moving almost two months before I arrived. Over that time, there were lots of texts between the three of us—now, it feels like I’ve known them my whole life!”

As for why their collective chemistry clicks, Steeper chalks that up to a shared professional philosophy: “We all come to work with the same mindset: Let’s have fun, entertain, inform, and not take ourselves too seriously.”

Added bonus: The trio is as tight off-air as they are on. “We’re there to listen when someone needs to vent, ask for advice or is going through something personally,” explains Steeper. Those circumstances include Schwartz’s well-publicized battles with leukemia and the topsy-turvy effects of Covid. Adds Steeper, “We’ve been there for each other through some challenging times. It makes our relationship that much stronger.”

At the moment, Steeper’s leisure hours are spent planning her upcoming wedding. Steeper and her fiancé, Adam, got engaged last March; they’ll be tying the knot at the family farm in June. When the pressure of organizing such a large, important milestone gets too much, Steeper the Gemini switches to her alternate personality: The quieter one who enjoys excursions in nature, DIY projects, and training her blue merle Australian shepherd. Says Steeper of her much-loved dog, “She is smart and eager to learn!”

Exactly like her owner.

By Dan Lalande

Photography by Sean Sisk

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