(This is the first in an occasional ‘Where Are They now?’ series on Chemainus Secondary School graduates).
Teamwork is the recurring trait in the significant developments of Art Aronson’s life.
During his high school years, teamwork was the primary focus for Aronson that brought success and provided motivation on basketball and other sports teams at Chemainus Secondary School. Now 34, he graduated in 2005.
“I was really into athletics,” said Aronson. “We played all the sports and we had a really good crew of guys there at that time.”
His takeaway from that was not just the value of being from a small community, “but learning how to make the most out of what you had,” he said.
His sister Jenny went to Chemainus Secondary ahead of him and was quite an inspiration for Aronson in his athletic pursuits.
Teamwork also plays an important role in Aronson’s current position as news director at the iconic 100.3 The Q and The Zone 91.3 radio stations in Victoria.
“In media, you’re part of a team, you’ve got to be a good teammate,” he reasoned.
Experiences unlike any other also started at an early age for Aronson. He went from an orphanage in Thailand at the age of four along with his three-year-old brother Emmett to his adopted family on Thetis Island where he attended the one-room schoolhouse there during his elementary school years up to Grade 6.
“I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he said. “It’s a unique experience.
“When I was on Thetis, there was a lot of guys right around my age. We were all interested in the same things. We became pretty much the basketball team when we went to the high school.”
As a go-between and in preparation for high school, Aronson’s parents enrolled Art in Grade 7 at St. Joseph’s School.
As fate would have it, “that’s where I met David Robinson there,” he indicated.
Robinson, the son of Chemainus basketball legend Bill Robinson, and Aronson turned out to be the best of friends.
“David was a really good player,” he recalled. “He and I both really liked it.”
They got to attend a National Basketball Association game in Vancouver during the Grizzlies’ existence against the Sacramento Kings and Bill provided the boys with all sorts of opportunities to expand their horizons through his connections.
“He was friends with Jay Triano,” said Aronson. “Bill introduced David and I to Steve Nash. That’s when I really got into basketball. David and I used to play for hours with Bill.”
They used to shoot at one of Bill’s specialized hoops reduced from the conventional size – the logic being if you could hit shots with diminished space, it made the normal rims seem as wide open as the ocean.
With further basketball development on his mind, Aronson was eager to take his game to the next level in high school, but David Robinson threw him a curve.
“I was very disappointed when he chose Ladysmith instead of Chemainus,” he recalled. “I tried really hard to recruit David to go to Chemainus.”
Even though David’s dad Bill made Chemainus famous for basketball many years earlier, coach Randy Steel had elevated the Ladysmith program and that’s where David decided to go.
Ironically, the two good friends never wound up playing against each other for any bragging rights. “We didn’t play any league games north of us,” noted Aronson.
“I was always very jealous of Ladysmith. They’d be rocking Friday nights – full gyms. When I look back, though, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love Chemainus.”
Bill still came to a couple of Aronson’s games and that pleased him. Aronson also can lay claim to scoring the first basket on a free throw in the new Chemainus gym after it was completed.
It was an especially heartbreaking time last year for the Robinson family after Bill died and for Aronson, having learned so much from him and admiring his accomplishments. They still haven’t been able to have a public celebration of his life, as COVID restrictions hit right around the planned ceremony time.
After graduating from high school, Aronson attended Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo and took general courses while driving a delivery truck for Neptune Foods. He decided one day he didn’t want to wake up at 2:30 in the morning and pack heavy foods the rest of his life so he enrolled in the broadcast journalism program at BCIT in 2009 at the age of 23.
“I was a mature adult by the time I went to BCIT,” Aronson quipped.
He learned from some of the best in the business there and graduated in 2011.
There were lots of opportunities during his time at BCIT to hone his emerging broadcast skills. The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver provided a perfect training ground to acquire experience.
“Just to be part of the whole atmosphere of the Winter Olympics of 2010 was incredible,” he said.
Aronson did an internship in Toronto in 2011 with SiriusXM satellite radio for the National Hockey League’s Home Ice package, culminating in the infamous playoffs when the Vancouver Canucks lost in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs to the Boston Bruins that set off a riot in Vancouver.
“By the time we got home and turned on the TV, the city was on fire,” he recalled. “That was a crazy time.”
Aronson thoroughly enjoyed doing the updates for NHL Home Ice.
After that, he went in search of a broadcasting job. He wound up doing some odd jobs, including play-by-play for the B.C. Hockey League’s Surrey Eagles.
As you can tell, Aronson is a big sports fan.
Eventually, though, he found work as a news reporter in Peace River, Alberta. Within two months, he was offered a job back closer to home with the Vista radio station in Campbell River and relocated to the Island.
“That’s where I really sunk my teeth into municipal politics and small-town events,” Aronson recalled.
Two years later, he went to the Courtenay-Comox station within the same company as a news reporter and covering a variety of sporting and other events.
Aronson actually quit radio at one point in 2013 and took a job with an on-line website that gave sports gambling advice.
Eventually, the lure of radio proved too much. A friend, who happened to be a producer with CFAX-1070 in Victoria, told him about a part-time freelance reporter position there.
But then a job at The Q and The Zone opened up and Aronson was hired for the roving reporter position. After about a year, news director Kirk Mason retired.
“I was supposed to be the reporter and he was supposed to be the anchor and news director,” Aronson explained. “Here I am, the reporter and the anchor. I do news for both stations. It’s more anchoring than it is reporting.”
He’s eclipsed three years since taking on the roles while working on completing his Master of Arts and Communication.
“My time in Victoria has been fantastic,” he enthused.
The Q is like the NHL of broadcasting, with a solidly-entrenched team of on-air personalities, a loyal listening audience and strong advertising base.
“It’s been enriching for my career,” Aronson conceded.
And there’s a certain notoriety that comes from working at The Q. It’s like Cliff (Clavin, not LeQuesne) walking into the bar at Cheers. Everybody knows your name.
“I never got into the business to have that status,” said Aronson. “I don’t see myself as famous, but people do recognize my name and my voice now.”