A Chat With Alicia Lurye of AKL Productions
Written by Michael D'Ambrosio
Over the last nine years, I've attended many conventions around the country. Some are older than time itself (well almost), like PhilCon, LunaCon and BaltiCon. Some started in the eighties and nineties with the sons and daughters of the convention clans. The most interesting ones that I've participated in are the recent ones that I've seen from their birth like RavenCon and Roc-Con.
I had the opportunity to speak with Alicia Lurye of AKL Productions to learn more about the energetic woman behind her string of successful conventions and craft shows and charity events. Roc-Con, a convention I have followed since its inception, was started by Alicia in 2011 and hers is a very interesting story. I first met Alicia at LunaCon when she was laying the groundwork for Roc-Con. She scouted the vendors and the participants in search of the best that she could assemble for a convention debut in Rochester at the Main Street Armory in 2011. A student of the Comicon model, she learned quickly what it takes to build a successful event and how to apply it. Before we get into what Alicia accomplished with the conventions, let's talk about her as a person.
Alicia was born and raised in Brooklyn and the Bronx, NY for most of her life, except for a short three years that she lived in the Harrisburg, Pa. From ages 12-15. . She carried a burning desire to entertain people and spread happiness. She was a part of the original shadow-cast group from the infamous Waverly Theatre in Greenwich Village and at the Graham Theatre in Brooklyn, portraying Columbia.
Alicia received a degree in broadcasting from SUNY Geneseo and has worked as a radio DJ for over 30 years. She has worked as a DJ in a number of music formats from Top 40 to Country, to the Hits of the Decades (60s, 70s and 80s) and everything in between. Having grown up listening to the great NY DJ's of those era's, Alicia's first love has always been radio.
Along with working in radio, Alicia opened "On-Hold Specialties" in 1989. This company provides "on hold" audio in place of silence or a radio on hold. The idea was new at the time but she kept at it and "On-Hold" Specialties is now in it's 25th year. After attending San Diego Comic Con in 2010, she realized that Rochester, NY had no fandom event. Response to the idea was so overwhelming in the local and fandom communities that RocCon was born.
Since Roc-Con started in 2011, Alicia has brought the RocCon model to New York's Hudson Valley and Harrisburg also under the name Roc-Con. The conventions start as a one day event and grow each year to a three day event for multi-genre topics and multi-fan interests. There is something for everyone at Roc-Con. I was surprised by her location selections as she aims for the unique whenever possible. An interesting example is The Main Street Armory, built in 1905, where a large cemetery was once located. The armory has its share of haunted stories as not all the bodies were relocated before that and several other neighboring buildings were erected. But that, in itself, is a story for another day. The Armory has also been featured on Ghost Hunters.
One of Alicia's main goals with each convention is to highlight the grass roots talent in an area as well as other talent from across the country, whether it be literary, film, or artistic in nature. This aspect is very important to her to and she'll do whatever she can to ensure that everyone remembers her events as something special. She does quite a bit of research when she plans an event including the optimum time, location and theme. Most of Alicia's help comes from volunteers at the events and I was impressed that they all spoke so highly of her. That doesn't always happen at a convention because the workload usually outweighs the help by quite a bit. This is just one of many reasons why I am really looking forward to returning to Roc-Con in Rochester on the weekend of September 20-22. The attendance has grown nicely from about fifteen hundred in 2011 to over twenty-five hundred last year and should easily surpass three thousand this year. If you reside, visit or vacation anywhere near Rochester that weekend, I strongly recommend you attend.
I mentioned the three Roc-Cons earlier, but there are many more events including charity events that Alicia has created. Some that really pique my interest are the themed vineyard events throughout the upstate New York wine country. Mothers' Day on the Niagra Wine Trail, Summertime in the Vineyard at Palmer Vineyards, and The Christmas in July Craft Extravaganza at the Steamboat Inn and Resort are very impressive. Visit the Roc-Con website for a glimpse of Alicia's lineup of celebrities and authors at http://www.roccon.net at the upcoming convention in September. The exciting programming lineup has me excited for another great, unique convention. As I mentioned earlier, there is something for everyone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Michael was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. A graduate of Delaware County Community College (A.A.S. Electronics) and Widener University (B.S. Technical and Industrial Administration), Michael served in the Pa. Air National Guard as a weapons crew chief for 22 years participating in several Middle East tours before retiring. Michael enjoys science fiction and old-time horror films. When not working as a controls technician at a nearby power plant, he enjoys writing his screenplays and novels, while listening to various types of music. Halloween is his favorite holiday and the fall is his favorite time of the year.