As it turns out, knowing about it for months didn’t soften the blow too much.
Aaron Rand, who announced in February he would be leaving CFQR/Q92/The Q after more than 20 years as a morning host, spent his last day at the microphone on Thursday.
And when he finally said goodbye, there weren’t too many dry eyes in the room.
I managed to score an all-access pass to this moment in Montreal radio history. I got up before the crack of dawn and spent the entire show as a silent observer in the studio, camera and video camera in hand. I got more than 200 photos and more than an hour of video. It’s going to take me a few days to sort through all of it, but the money shot, as it were, is here.
The show included Paul (Tasso) Zakaib and Suzanne Desautels as special guests, along with a parade of fans and former coworkers including Patrick Charles and Rob Braide. Rand also got phone calls from such figures as Jean Charest and Gérald Tremblay (the real ones, not Tasso imitations) and Andrew Carter at CJAD.
Listeners got to hear most of the fun talk. But what they couldn’t see was at the very end, as Rand was giving his goodbye speech, when Tasso and Suzanne (who never got the chance to really say goodbye after they were booted in 2009) buried their faces in tissues.
There was also Natasha Hall’s final traffic report, which Andy Nulman at least thought was inspiring.
I found it a bit odd that I was the only journalist present for this. Rand’s departure has gotten coverage, both when he announced he was leaving and this week. The latter includes:
- A Saturday feature piece in The Gazette by Bill Brownstein
- A chat with Mutsumi Takahashi on CTV News
- An article in The Suburban
- An interview with Steve Hatton on Suite101.com
But the only visual records of this event, besides my own, are those taken by Q staff and by unofficial photographer and bus driver by day Daniel Rochon.
I’ve already written about Rand, why there are few people like him nowadays on the radio, and his views on how clueless managers are ruining this art form. I don’t like repeating myself, so you can just read those posts.
Suffice it to say it was a classy sendoff. The station let him say his goodbyes properly, even choosing his own music for his last show. They let him invite his old friends. (CJAD also showed class, letting Desautels and Charles spend part of the morning at a rival station). And they put a full-page ad in The Gazette, signed by his coworkers (secretly – he didn’t see it until after the show):
Maybe it doesn’t make up for having forced this talent to leave in the first place, but it was still nice to see.
Fans of the show are reacting on the Q’s Facebook page and Rand’s. If the number of comments are any indication, Rand will be missed.
Sarah Bartok takes over the big chair while the Q waits for Cat Spencer to become available in the fall.
UPDATE: From Rand’s Facebook page:
Thanks for all the kind comments everyone.. The last hour of yesterday’s final show was tougher than I thought it would be, but it was made easier, and it felt right to have Tasso and Suzanne both there. So today … I slept in till 8:30 !!!! Spending time with my daughter and friends this weekend, and then … joining Oprah on her yacht for a couple of weeks of R&R. (Please don’t say anything to her though. She doesn’t know yet.)
UPDATE (June 1): Another clip from my videos from that day, this one of Suzanne Desautels and Murray Sherriffs:
Ted Bird also writes for his Gazette blog about Rand and how radio stations ditching their best talent doesn’t make business sense to him.
And in case you were wondering, Rand’s attempt to set a ridiculous world record was … eventually … successful.
Another Montreal radio icon moves on.
Wow! Thanks for this. Great job.
Well done video. I heard it live on radio but it doesn’t give the full effect unlike the video. I’m sure they will be back somewhere on radio in Montreal, maybe even TV!
Steven – a great piece of work… I had listened to Aaron until 8:45, but until I saw this video I could fathom the depths of emotion that were in that room.
Truly a great Montreal radio personality is (hopefully temporarily) silenced by “the suits”.
One day, they will learn that radio is not all music… it is also heart and soul.
But hey, they are in it to make money, and I can understand that as well.
He leaves as the true winner that he is. He leaves at the top of his game.
I don’t know if he reads this, but as I am not a facebook fan, I will put my message to him here.
Aaron…. you are unreal. And the team you had (before the “suits” “fixed” it) was amazing.
Good luck to you and hopefully we will hear you back on the airwaves with your schtick very, very, soon!
You are not retired… not in the least – you are just between gigs. I know that!
Thanks for those 26 years… you really did (except for the last few minutes), leave us laughing!
Rand’s departure is sad, but it is also a clear signal that Radio can no longer afford to have “icon” style people on the air. It’s a commodity business, and replacing Rand with someone else doesn’t suddenly mean that listenership drops enough to merit a significantly large salary that comes with paying for an icon. The proof will come over at FM69/Virgin/Mix/Whatever where they replaced “brand” Kat Spencer with some dude named “freeway”. I don’t think their ratings will shift enough for it to matter?
Why is that? It’s because radio stations are format / music style locked for the most part. If you want hard rock, you listen to CHOM. If you want adult top40, you go with Virgin. A more adult mix of stuff? Q. That’s it. Q listeners aren’t going to suddenly tune over to CHOM and enjoy the AC/DC repeats. A CHOM listener isn’t suddenly go to the Q.
What radio really faces is the total tune out, where listeners stop using the radio altogether, and instead enjoy recorded music from their own collections, or otherwise entertain themselves in the car,at work, etc.
In order to make the business work, they are all having to look at the bottom line only. It’s really too bad, because we end up losing great radio people like Aaron Rand. It might make the bottom line work for a short period of time, but it’s another reason for people to stop tuning in at all.
What a great post, Alex. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I did not think I would so emotional….after all it’s not like I knew him (them) personally. I was wrong, although we did not know each other he was a part of my life for the last 23 years. Everyday I would get up to their voices and they were in my home. I will truly miss Aaron. Have a good one buddy and hope to hear you soon.
Just wanted to say how much you will be missed. Montreal radio will never be the same. 92.5 got turned off the moment you left. Gone are the great drives to work I so enjoyed. I met you many years ago at the Cystic Fibrosis telethon, one of hte many charities you helped in such a big way. It is a sad time for Montreal entertainment. I wish you all the best of luck in whatever you choose to do, I really hope you will at some point entertain us again in this great city.
Thanks for being there and making this moment available to us!
I had the honour of being invited by Aaron Rand to attend the last broadcast in-studio. It was an exciting, memorable and moving experience. For those of you who may not know, I am the moderator of the Radio in Montreal Yahoo Group. If you are not already members of the group, I invite any of you who are fans of radio to come over and check us out. We’ve been around since April 2000. All matters relating to radio in Montreal and the surrounding areas are open for discussion. Many people in the media are members of the group as well.
Today I posted 21 photos from yesterday’s broadcast on to the group photo page. Here is a link.
Thanks to Aaron for entertaining and informing Montreal radio fans for so many years. We’ll be waiting for your next appearance in the media!
Je ne comprends pas pourquoi devoir m’enregistrer à Yahoo Group afin de voir les photos…mais bon c’est un choix!
Thanks for this, Steve. Hopefully we’ll get to hear him back again somewhere soon.
Thanks to Aaron and Tasso for making we laugh every morning on my way to work. Radio will never be the same in this city!
What really “makes” this video for me is Ms. Hall’s emotion as she barely makes it through the traffic report. You’re a genius for including that. Thanks, Steve.
Probably the best post in the career of Fagstein. Nicely done.
Suits or not, Aaron has too many fans not be on the air in this city, perhaps by the early fall. Maybe with Ted Bird?
It is very unlikely that K103 would bring in another outside on the air, no matter how well loved by the public in general. After that, there really are not any english language radio stations in Montreal where Aaron Rand would fit in. CJAD isn’t going to change any time soon. CHOM has enough guys over 50 on staff already, and The Virginal Mix just got a freeway installed. So what’s left? Sports radio? Community station?
The sad fact is that there isn’t space in the Montreal market at this point, and with a limited number of companies holding all the cards, it’s pretty much a done deal. I would say the most you are likely to hear from Aaron Rand on the radio is going to be in commercial work. There just isn’t anywhere in the market that he can easily jump to.
I wasn’t suggesting Aaron & Ted together on K103. Both are top talents. Other than Pete Marier, who’s over 50 on CHOM?
CJAD? Not doing nearly as well as many would believe.
Congratulations on all the success you’ve had over the years! One day, somebody will realize how important it is to keep people with experience because that is what makes people/clients come back. Once again Great success for your new challenge to come!
It was the most powerful 7:04 minutes on the radio that day when Aaron Rand said his good byes. Usually, around that time, I am only a few minutes away from the Lafontaine Tunnel where, like most people, I’m stuck in there for 5 minutes to an hour, depending, so, not to miss this very important moment, I exited before the tunnel and just parked the car and listened. Of course, it was powerful and because it was Mr. Rand, it was perfect in its allocution. After listening and getting ready to leave, I noticed that there were five or six cars just sitting there doing nothing. As I looked closer, I noticed that some of the drivers were wiping their eyes. I actually went by one of the cars and said to the young lady “Aaron’s goodbye speech?” and she smiled and nodded. That is powerful, for all those people to redirect their route to listen to Mr. Rand. What a fitting tribute to Tasso, all I can say is thank you for many years of laughter to you and Mr. Zakaib. Good luck with the rest of your life sir.
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