Interview with Aaron Rand
Long-time Westmounter opens up on his life and local issues
By Nadine Hennelly
Previously published in WestmountMag.ca
Montreal radio host Aaron Rand has been a mainstay on the English-language airwaves for more than 30 years — an impressive record in a competitive industry. To many listeners, his voice is as familiar as those of their own family. Westmount Magazine’s Nadine Hennelly recently caught up with the energetic and affable Rand on a hot, muggy afternoon at the CJAD station. The air conditioning was broken, but Rand remained cool and composed as he did his four-hour afternoon drive-home show, from 3 to 7 p.m. The interview was conducted throughout the show, during commercials and other breaks. And yes, he’s a lot funnier in person that he is on the air. See the full interview in the video below.
Here are excerpts of my interview with Aaron Rand:
What’s a typical day in the life of Aaron Rand?
I’m up at about 7 a.m., read the Gazette, check out the Journal de Montreal, watch taped newscasts from here and the USA if I haven’t watched them the night before. Then I begin scouring my regular list of news, finance, and lifestyle websites, looking for possible story ideas for my radio show that day or later that week. By about noon, I have a phone meeting with my producer to narrow down the story ideas, and he starts chasing interviews and nailing down guests. Right after that I try to find some timely audio or video clips from the night before which I can use at some point during the show. After that, I’ll start putting together some rough ideas for the opening monologue to my show. I’m in the office by about 1:30 p.m., looking to see what new stories have emerged through the course of the day, and then I’m on-air from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.
How much of your success do you owe to Montreal? Do you feel you chose Montreal or it chose you?
My parents chose to come here after the war, and outside of a year in Toronto after going to McGill, I’ve spent my entire radio career here. So I owe all my success to the people of this city, and the uniqueness it offers.
How did you wind up living in Westmount?
I had friends who lived here, so I knew the area pretty well. One day while driving around looking at homes, I came across a small house on a beautiful street — Surrey Gardens — that looked perfect and potentially affordable. It wasn’t, but as fate would have it, five years later it was for sale again, and this time I bought it.
What makes living in Westmount unique?
Outside of some of the largest, most expensive, and most beautifully designed and landscaped homes in the city, and the sense of understated elegance that comes with that, it’s just another Montreal neighbourhood. With bigger hills.
Do you like shopping in Westmount?
I enjoy window shopping on Sherbrooke Street West, where new stores seem to be opening pretty regularly. And we’re well served when it comes to ice cream and coffee, so that works for me.
What are some of your favourite Westmount shops or businesses?
I like Quincaillerie Hogg because it has the feel of a hardware store that I remember when I was growing up. Small, friendly, knowledgeable staff, kind of the anti big box store. I like National for the same reason. And of course Cavallaro and Foumagerie.
Do you feel the new MUHC hospital will be a boon to local businesses?
I’m not sure it will make much of a difference, other than perhaps in the amount of traffic. I imagine businesses closer to the hospital will be springing up pretty quickly, and I think NDG will benefit more than Westmount.
If you could change or add one thing to Westmount, what would it be?
It’s pretty nice the way it is right now. Wait, I thought of something to change or get rid of. That redundant stop sign in the middle of nowhere across from Roslyn School on Grosvenor Avenue that most people don’t ever stop at because they don’t notice it. And while I’m at it, that traffic light at the top of Roslyn and The Boulevard. If you’re travelling up that hill north on Roslyn, that light is only green for eight seconds. Really. Just eight seconds. That’s ridiculous.
Do you ever use public transportation (the STM)?
My parents didn’t get a car until I was almost 17 years old, so I spent all of my time on city buses back then. I travelled across town twice a day, even as a 10 year old, because back then people didn’t think twice about allowing their children to ride the bus. But as soon as I could afford it, I got a car and promised myself that I wouldn’t take another bus unless I absolutely had to. I had done my share. Occasionally though I do ride the metro, and did when the Expos were still playing at the Big O.
Do you own a bike?
I do own a bike, but I bought it only a couple of summers ago after being guilted into it by my girlfriend, who bikes quite a bit. The idea was we’d go cycling together. It was a good idea. For her. My bike’s been hanging on a hook in the garage ever since.
How important is saving Bixi for Montreal?
I’m the wrong person to ask. If it makes money for the city, I’m okay with it. But if it’s a drain on the public purse, I don’t think that’s fair.
What’s your favourite dessert?
Key lime pie. Or anything my girlfriend bakes. She’s an amazing cook.
Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy working out, and still pretending I can play baseball with kids half my age. I also enjoy reading, but the easiest place to do that seems to be on vacation.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
I’d like to be stuck in a 1960s time warp.
Check out Nadine Hennelly’s full interview with Aaron Rand, and find out if he has any political aspirations up his sleeve…
Read also An interview with Claire Webster
Nadine Hennelly worked and lived all over the world. A former committee member of the Musée des Beaux Arts de Montreal, she was also on the Committees for the NYC Ballet, The Whitney Museum, The Bachelor’s Ball, Knock out and The Kitchen in New York City. She also contributed her creative talents to The Alzheimer’s Group, la Fondation Les Petits Rois, and Le Garde Manger pour Tous. She can be reached at email@example.com