By Emily Bowers
A cheer erupts from a television hanging from the low ceiling in the newsroom of The Score, a 24-hour-a-day sports news network, the television station formerly known as Headline Sports.
The noise from the boisterous NCAA basketball fans gets the attention of 28-year-old Brian Spear as he leaves his desk tucked in a corner in the small room to check the score.
The underdog St. Bonaventure Bonnies team is trying to narrow the gap against the fifth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats on the first day of the championship tournament.
A smile grows on the 1993 radio and television arts graduate’s face, as the Bonnies, the team he picked to move on mount a comeback. Spearsy, as he is called around the newsroom is a supervising the producer at The Score.
He has been with the station since its beginning in 1997. It started with just one program, a panel discussion show called The Front Page that aired at 6 p.m. every night. Spear worked on it as an associate producer.
Unlike most of its staff of about 30, he was not fired after the show was cancelled in 1998. Instead, he stayed at the network which was changing its format to headlines and highlights; a combination Spear believes is a sports fanatic’s dream channel.
“It’s an ideal world for a sports fan,” he says.
It’s a fitting job for Spear, a sports fanatic himself. He sits on the edge of his seat as he notices the Bonnies take the lead. But the Wildcats come back to tie and take the game into overtime. St. Bonaventure has five more minutes to pull off the upset.
Gazin out of a window from the third floor of the Holiday Inn on King Street West, where Headline Sports Broadcasting calls home, Spear’s eyes wrinkle at the corners as he recalls his Ryerson days.
“I spent a lot of time at the pubs,” he says with a laugh. Then changes to a serious tone. “Ryerson gave a basic understanding of how everything worked.”
“At Ryerson I learned how to cut features,” he says. Though producing is his main job, Spear says he still likes to create feature stories about special people and events.
The object of the day’s focus, the Bonnies, were also the focus of a feature he shot the previous Sunday. He travelled to western New York to profile the St. Bonaventure team, because three Toronto natives play on it.
Spear got his start in sports journalism at the Fan 590, where he worked for four years. He moved to Headline Sports and after the death of The Front Page and produced live updates. His job, he says, “just kept building.”
His day now begins at around 8 a.m. and ends around 6:30 p.m. after his last update. “Every day is different,” he says.
The Score has become home for many past and present Ryerson students. They work all over the network, from interns to reporters to executives.
“You tend to hire your own,” Spear says. “When something starts as a Ryerson place, it always becomes a Ryerson place.”
In the end the Bonnies lose to the Wildcats 85-80 and are eliminated from the playoffs.
“It think we got our lead game for six o’clock,” Spear says to reporter Elliotte Friedman, who had been doing analysis on the NCAA games for the live updates through the day.
“Hang out with a team for a day and suddenly you’re their biggest fan,” Friedman jokes.
The decision is not always that easy. Spear says he constantly questions what viewers want to see most.
“Would they rather see college basketball of the NHL?” he asks. “You’re not going to please everyone.”