He grew up in Edmonton and from age seven, he knew what he wanted to do: “I never met a microphone I didn’t like.” First, Lance Brown stopped at the Northern Alberta Institute for Technology where he graduated with honours from the Television Broadcasting program. He then took the first job in media he could find at a station in Northern Alberta called CFOK about an hour or so north of Edmonton. He earned just $400 a month and had many tasks and responsibilities, but his on-air duties on Sunday afternoons were the reason he kept on keeping on. He was sandwiched between a country music show and a religious talk show, so it was a strange and less than ideal time-slot, but Brown made it work.
Four hundred bucks was hardly enough to get by even in the 1980s though, so when one of his profs from NAIT – the one who happened to drop a little nugget of wisdom that propelled him to his first job: “if you get a job opening take it, and see what you can make of it” – called Brown up after about nine months at CFOK, Brown was all ears. The prof was also a part-time director at an Edmonton TV station, so he told Brown to apply for a job in the sports department, which he got. This was how Lance Brown got started in TV.
After a little while at that Edmonton TV station, Brown moved on to Regina, Saskatchewan and a station called CKCK-TV because they were offering what he really wanted to do: play by play. It was junior football mind you, but he loved it because he loved the game and the people in Saskatchewan really loved their football too. Not only that, but Brown says people in Regina were some of the nicest he’d ever met. Lance Brown was on his way up however, so when BCTV – what he calls “the rock in Western Canada, it was the place to be” – called him with a job, he just couldn’t turn it down.
While Brown says he loves BC because of its beauty – beauty that even brought his family over to the coast – and claims to even have a license plate that reads ‘OKANAGAN’, he says that the people at BCTV were less than ideal to work with. It was a great workplace and his best job yet, but the more closed off social life of the big city wasn’t what he was used to from his time in the more close-knit communities in the prairies. Brown says that he “made more friends in one week in Regina than in a year in BC”.
Brown was born and bred in the prairies and the West though and he didn’t know much about Toronto and what it had to offer, so when a man named Greg Mason called him with a job offer at CTV Toronto, Brown was indifferent despite his gripes with life in Vancouver. Mason said “you don’t know me but I know of you, would you send us a tape.” Brown was not wooed by Toronto at that point, so he forgot about the conversation and didn’t even send the tape. It was only after a call-back from Mason asking if he’d sent the tape, that Brown decided to send one out. CTV then called him back, flew him out and put him up in a hotel during the interview process and before he knew it, he had an on-air job in Canada’s biggest market and sportshub. Brown was nervous his first couple of years at CTV but he got his footing and 31 years in at CTV, he has a lot of autonomy.
Nowadays, Brown is not only CTV’s sports anchor, he is the director of the sports department. That is to say, he is host, writer and producer all rolled into one. Though Brown says each day is a little bit different than the last – one of his favorite things about his job, along with his autonomy – depending on whether he wants to go out to an event himself or what kind of events are going on in the sports world at any given time. There are some things he has to do on a daily basis however. These tasks are essentially putting together his segment; from accessing raw TSN footage, choosing content from the CTV database and deciding which sport events are more important and which will be left out based on time constraints. He also makes sure cameras are all where they should be at any given location and schedules the staff that need to be out filming.
When someone stays at a company for as long as Lance has, he will undoubtedly be able to say whatever he wants within reason. Autonomy and independence are always things people look for in a job. From his time earning $400 a month at a tiny radio station in Alberta to his happy time in Regina to his less than happy time in BC to his time as a host/writer/producer at CTV, Brown has certainly paid his dues to get to where he is today. And where he is today ain’t too shabby.
I would love to have his job – just without the on-air aspect. I have found that I am certainly not cut out for on-camera work, but his control over content definitely made me envious. The CTV building is full of studios too, and an internship there would definitely lead to positive things for me down the road. Just by walking around with Lance at the station I saw seven different sets, some sports, some news, some even discovery channel. I even ran into James Duthie before he went on for a segment. Even if I don’t want to go on-air, that definitely seemed like an atmosphere that would benefit me and my future in the industry.