“Shunpiker” is an uncommon enough word to prompt an inquiry into the Shunpiker Journal and Shunpiker Productions and the person behind them. Turns out, it aptly fits how the man producing and hosting the hour-long web radio journal and a number of other auto-related endeavors arrived where he is. Steve Purdy “shunned” the turnpike or the direct route in favor of back roads or more circuitous paths to making a living as an automotive journalist. He takes pride in that designation and tries to live up to it although he has no J-school training, no desire to write, no “hands-on” mechanical experience, and no time at the wheel of a racecar. But yes, plenty of enthusiasm, networking and “hanging in” part time– like seven years as the call-in correspondent for a Detroit radio station’s coverage of the Cannonball One Lap of America, once in a Yugo GVX. (And not when he was a flexible young teenager able to easily shake off days of being cramped in considerably less than the world’s smoothest ride.) The experience provided him with numerous contacts and opportunities to work with TV shows and find outlets for his car photography. And, he worked on his writing skills.
That made it relatively easy to segue when early retirement was offered in 2002 from 25 years of social work to a second career in automotive journalism. He began with radio coverage of the Detroit Auto Show and events at Michigan International Speedway for the local Fox station. A year later, he was named Detroit editor for The Auto Channel and began covering a full range of auto topics, including product reviews. From there he added writing and photography for collector car publications.
Purdy’s hour-long Shunpiker’s Journal launched in February and right now is on Tuesdays, 11AM to noon at www.TalkLansing.net but within a few weeks the programs will be downloadable as podcasts and archived for access to any of them, any time.
Purdy co founded a group of Motor City area freelance communicators that, among other projects, revived the Detroit Press Club Foundation’s prestigious International Wheel Awards. They were going strong until two years ago when the auto industry’s economy went sour. He plans to bring the event back.
Cultivating an ability to write and on-air presence, he parlayed his interests, enthusiasm and ability to network into a second life but cites the help and guidance of veteran journalists in making it work for him, particularly veteran freelancer Gary Witzenburg who went out of his way to help Purdy make his way and Bob Gordon who gave him a shot with the Auto Channel.