The time has come, I think, for Lance Brown and I to get a string of those colourful patio lanterns and have a chat about what comes next now. Because, frankly, we’ve never really talked about it.
That name might ring a bell. Lance grew up in Edmonton and, ironically, attended the same southside school as Nicholas, my grandson.
Lance and I were classmates in 1977 when we were both Radio and Television Arts first-year students. I still can’t decide if he was a gentleman or a ladies’ man, when he was going out a north door of NAIT and stood waiting for 2-1/2 minutes — I timed him on my wristwatch — and opened the door for three ladies he spotted walking down the long corridor.
Lance and I became housemates with Ken Sellar, who had Woody Woodpecker painted on his car. Countless evenings, we’d sit on the porch of our west-end townhouse, which had a welcome mat outside the front door that warmly read “Get Lost.” See, we didn’t have any fun at all.
We’d talk until all hours of the morning, surrounded by those wonderful patio lanterns.
We were young. But we had dreams of making a small dent with our own craft in the media market. We talked about work ethic, finding a wonderful woman to marry, starting a family, buying houses and how we would give everything we had, and then some, to make it happen. It’s funny, though, we never once talked about retirement.
Now, we can.
After his NAIT days, Lance got his first job in radio at a Barrhead station. Then, he went to what was then ITV and then to Regina. Lance headed back west to Vancouver before getting a phone call from a broadcast great, the late Pat Marsden, to come work for CFTO in Toronto.
After 32 years working supper hour sports, Lance will be able to have early dinners with wife Andrea: Lance has retired. His last sportscast was Dec. 22 where, as he did for many years, Lance sung his Christmas carols and cleverly rewrote the lyrics to tell sports stories. But he was a big part of the community, hosting a golf tournament for Big Brothers, mentioning names of children in Toronto hospitals in his sportscast and leading a team of volunteers to build backdoor rinks for families who need a little hand up. The construction crew has been building rinks for the past 17 years.
“I need to do more for people,” he told me a few years ago.
It’s been a joy for me to sit back and watch, from afar, a friend from almost four decades ago chase his career. He would probably smack me the side on the side of the head — wouldn’t be the first time — when I tell you he was voted best sportscaster in a Toronto Sun poll a few months ago.
He used humour. He asked tough questions, too. And at the end of a sportscast, you were informed.
But also entertained.
The media landscape is changing all the time. Lance’s retirement is a signal that the supper-hour television sportscast has faded to black.
But my buddy should be proud of everything he has done.
So, we need a chat to look ahead into retirement around the patio lanterns. Ken and I will have to buy them, I suppose, since we’re still working