There are few people who Ellen and I have connected with in the last few years that have remained a part of our story as did Jory Rand. Jory was a sportscaster at KDKA here in Pittsburgh when he got an assignment just before Thanksgiving of 2010. Go out to Kiski, report on two coaches battling cancer. His report can be seen HERE.
Jory will forever be a big part of our story as it's voice. He added THIS report two years later at Jam the Gym 4.
Jory is no longer just the guy KDKA sent out to tell our story. He and his wife Jo have become dear friends, which made his decision to take a job at ABC7 in Los Angeles tough news to take. We did get to catch up with him while in LA as a part of our #SummerofUS trip. Jory now is a weekend anchor, so of course, I had questions. Five of them. Pittsburgh reconnect with an old friend. LA learn about your new anchor and his heart of gold.
Jamming in Five Questions, Jory Rand!
Current Location-Los Angeles, CA
Position-Anchor/Reporter, ABC7 Los Angeles
College-U. of Maryland (Terpy Terps!)
You recently relocated from Pittsburgh to the West Coast driving cross country to complete the move. What was that like, and what did you discover about America and yourself on this trip?
Well, I had actually driven cross-country back in college, so this wasn’t entirely new to me, but it absolutely was the first time I did so with 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 houseplants in tow! It was a bit more rushed than I would have liked -- we couldn’t do much sight-seeing because we had the dogs, and we couldn’t leave the RV for too long because of the cats.
But it was a lot of fun, even with a flat tire in Colorado and a campsite snafu in Moab, Utah that had me driving around in my underwear at midnight looking for a place to sleep for the night!
I discovered that Kansas takes forever to drive through, 1-70 West out of Denver has to be the most amazingly picturesque stretch of highway you could possibly imagine, and Arches National Park is pretty damn cool.
Going from sportscaster here in Pittsburgh to news anchor in Los Angeles is a big change.
What do you like best about hard news and what do you miss most about doing sports?
At this point, I am getting a kick out of simply learning how to cover hard news. It’s a much different animal than covering sports (duh) and it is much harder work. I did sports for 13 years, with another 3 years in college, with another 18 years of being a sports fan before that so much of it just came naturally. That’s no longer the case now with news, and it definitely is work.
What do I miss about sports? You mean what do I miss about the thing I am most passionate about in life? The thing I dedicated my career to? The thing I participated in since I was 4 and followed daily since I could form coherent thoughts? Eh, not much, really.
I kid, but I do miss it. I had the job that I always wanted, and in the perfect place to cover it. It was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but this was a challenge I couldn’t pass up.
Along those same lines, is a dramatic switch just going from Pittsburgh to LA. What do you miss most about Pittsburgh and what do you like best about your new lifestyle in Los Angeles.
Hard not to fall in love with the weather in LA. It’s funny, but it’s sunny every single day here to the point where you find yourself wishing for a cold, cloudy day. It didn’t rain for 5 months after moving here. We moved in June and Halloween night was the first rain we had seen!
I miss so much about Pittsburgh. The people, the passion, the sports (!!!!), Double Wide Grill, Bob Pompeani, all the great things that make Pittsburgh home.
Knowing that these are big changes, what can you tell new graduates that might ease their concerns about big moves and leaving home. Was it difficult for you to make these decisions?
It was incredibly difficult to leave Pittsburgh – I had such a great job, working with great people in a great city -- I had many sleepless nights deciding whether to give all that up and move across the country, away from everyone I knew, away from my family, and basically start a new career. But it was the right thing to do for my career.
I tell this to every young aspiring broadcaster – You’re going to have to start in a tiny town, making very little money, and it’s going to be like this for years. I made $17,200 a year in my first job (and this was after a $500 raise six months in!). It’s just how the business typically works. There are exceptions, but they are rare. You have to start small and work your way up and be willing to leave your home town and your family and friends. But if you work hard enough, the bigger markets (and the bigger paychecks) will come.
Knowing how much you enjoyed lacing up the skates, have you found a new group to play pick-up with and if so, how is the play in LA compared to what you might find on a typical rink here in Pittsburgh?
I haven’t been on the ice once since I’ve been here! I have a lot less free time in my new job and I’ve yet to look into getting back out there, but it’s something I plan to do soon. I’ll have to show these West Coasters what hockey is all about.
Most of our readers are aware of your special connection to our story.
What drew you to us, and what made telling our story so important to you?
Initially, just the shock of seeing 2 coaches on the same volleyball team have cancer, and one of them for the third time, drew me to the story – I felt like this was something that needed to be told. But when I came out to do the story, I just fell in love with Jaime and her quiet poise in the face of such a nightmare. And how much the girls just adored her. And then I felt like I just connected with Ellen, and she talked about how people come into your life for a reason and that they were so upbeat and positive -- it all just stuck with me. When you first show up for a story, it’s just that – something you cover, and then it’s on to the next one. But once you get to know people, you feel a connection to their story, so I just wanted to help as much as I could, and continue to keep Jaime’s legacy alive and help Ellen out as much as I could.
Jory Rand has proven on countless occasions his genuine kindness, his deep concern for the stories he covers, and his professionalism. Pittsburgh's loss is Southern California's gain. By the way JR, it's like 15 degrees outside...
...still miss us?