Ben – From Indie Rocker to Journalist
#48 – Growing up in the west end of Toronto, Ben Spurr’s favourite thing to do was get together for jam sessions with his friends. What started as a way for them to hang out became something more when they realized they had the talent to make something of themselves. That’s how Ben’s band, The Coast, got their start.
Despite the possibilities of making music for a living, Ben also had an interest in furthering his education. He enrolled at the University of Toronto to study History, English, and African Studies and had to strike a delicate balance of academics with the band’s schedule. This balance was somewhat disrupted as Ben took an interest in journalism while working at The Varsity, UofT’s school newspaper, and he reduced his course load to make his schedule work.
At the same time, the band was also experiencing some significant success. With a manager and a record label, The Coast was able to book tours across Canada, the USA, and Europe and even had the distinction (I can’t convey how sarcastic I'm being) of having one of their songs in a Canadian broadcast of Jersey Shore. As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end and after touring to support their second album, the band decided it was time to move onto other ventures.
This was a turn of events that Ben was prepared for as he had kept his toe in the journalism pond while the band was touring and making music. He had stints writing for BlogTO and The Mark before settling in at NOW Magazine as their city hall reporter just in time to get a front-row seat to Toronto’s Rob Ford debacle that made international headlines. He was able to parlay that ‘trial by fire’ experience into a contract with The Toronto Star and five years later Ben is Toronto’s go-to source for transit reporting.
Listen to his interview to hear the full story of how Ben pivoted from indie rock musician to reporter for the biggest newspaper in Canada.