Conroy Alison: Big Apple all-rounder
THIS year is the 40th anniversary of Jamaican Conroy Alison's involvement in New York City's entertainment industry.
Now in his mid-60s, the Kingston-born Alison has worked as a show promoter, broadcaster and marketing consultant. He has helped pitch Caribbean products on radio in the Big Apple since the mid-1970s.
In a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer, Alison said he started in the business with three colleagues as Friends Four, which promoted and organised parties in Manhattan.
After two of its members moved to Florida, Friends Four dissolved but Alison maintained his ties to the business.
“I continued promoting parties at various venues in Brooklyn and The Bronx," he told the Observer.
His biggest promotion has been with the Blake family of Merritone sound system fame. In 1981, two years after being hired as a marketing specialist for the WLIB-AM and WBLS-FM radio stations, Alison established a business relationship with Winston ‘Merritone’ Blake, head of the Merritone organisation. Shortly after they met, the Merritone Boat Ride and Merritone Family Fun Day were born.
“This tremendous outdoor event provides a template used by many others. We provide a menu of attractions that appeal to children, their parents and grandparents.
It’s the first major event of its kind to highlight family, family fun, togetherness, respect. The Merritone Fun Day truly has a vibe of its own,” said Alison.
As far as marketing goes, he has worked with major companies such as Caribbean Food Delights, Western Union, Digicel and Grace Foods. A past student of Jamaica College, Conroy Alison says music is his first love. It was a passion before he migrated to the United States in 1969.
His parents had a lot to do with that. “There was always music in my parents' home every day. My father, Conroy Allison snr was regarded as one of Jamaica’s better pianists," Alison explained. Marketing entered the picture later.
“As a young boy I dreamed of becoming a top-class journalist. As it turned out, I got involved with media and I’m still loving every minute of it. I’m extremely happy I chose this path," he said.
"Having it to do over again, I would probably change a few things, but broadcasting and promotions has given me a chance to provide a community with entertainment and information to uplift people,” he said.