We recently connected with Alicia Valenski for round three of Meet the Media Monday. The series features a brief Q&A with leading Charlotte journalists as we get to know the faces behind the stories that matter most in the Queen City.
Alicia is a contributor to CharlotteFive and SouthPark Magazine and co-founder of Work for Your Beer, the ultimate guide to beer fitness in Charlotte. We had a blast chatting with Alicia about her favorite beers and breweries, dogs and her move to Richmond, VA.
What brought you to Charlotte?
AV: “My boyfriend at the time (now husband) and I were living in upstate New York after college, which was a mistake. It was so cold! We visited one of my college friends who was living in Charlotte and it was so fun. We wandered around NoDa and went to all the shops and restaurants like Salud Beer Shop and Smelly Cat (I’m an avid Friends fan). My now-husband and I went back home to New York and couldn’t stop thinking about Charlotte and thought, we have to move there, so we did!”
What’s your favorite activity in Charlotte?
AV: “Beer yoga! When I first moved to Charlotte, I actually didn’t like beer. When I moved here, I knew that breweries were popular so I started with wheat beers and eased into it. Now I enjoy all the beers. I went through Cicerone training. A sommelier is to wine what Cicerone is to beer. It was so enlightening and has been helpful in writing about beer to know how to properly describe what I’m tasting. My biggest tip for for anyone looking to find the fun activities in any place is to talk to bartenders. The first brewery we went to was Heist and we became friends with the servers and asked them what to do in Charlotte. That’s how we learned the cool things to do.”
What attracted you to journalism?
AV: “I’ve been a writer my whole life. I won an essay contest for Seventeen Magazine about why I had the best boyfriend in America, which is the dumbest thing! I got flown to New York, did a photoshoot and got my picture in the magazine along with my article. But that got me started thinking, “Oh I’m a writer.” Then I started interning for the Patriot News in Harrisburg (I grew up in Hershey, PA). I worked for them all through high school and also interned for a Harrisburg-area magazine called MODE Magazine. It was a fun time! I went to Penn State for journalism and straight out of school I wrote for an online magazine called Her Campus and was an editor for their main site.”
What’s the craziest story you’ve covered?
AV: “When I was working for Her Campus, I was invited to interview Aziz Ansari when he was releasing his book Modern Romance. I got tea with him in SoHo, which was so much fun. It’s probably one of my favorite things I’ve written. He was super nice but a lot of people think comedians in general are really outgoing. When you meet them in person, they’re kind of reserved and a little shy. He got Earl Grey tea.”
What’s surprised you the most about Charlotte (good or bad)?
AV: “One thing I was really surprised by when we first moved here is just how new everything is. Charlotte is such a young city. It’s been here a long time but a lot has been torn down. Walking around Richmond, VA recently, there are so many old historic buildings that are kept intact. Here it’s very tear it down and build something new. And it’s so spread out! I was surprised when I first moved here that if something is 10 minutes away, that’s far. When we first moved, we didn’t mind driving 30 minutes to go to one particular brewery. But now if we’re in NoDa, we’re not going to make the trip to South End.
One thing that I love about Charlotte is that it’s such an active city. You can be at a place that’s relatively upscale but be in your workout clothes and no one would think it was weird. I feel like that’s something I take for granted here a little bit. That I go everywhere in my lululemons and sneakers and no one really cares because everyone expects that you’re active.”
What’s your favorite social media platform?
AV: “I manage so many Instagram accounts and I’ve gotten pretty good at it with knowing about photography and how lighting works, how to focus, etc. I can do it well but I don’t love it. I don’t like that everything has to look so visually perfect. For me, my favorite account is Twitter. It’s the most fun. Everyone is just putting the weird things out there thinking, “Maybe someone will think this is funny.” Some people are so funny on Twitter! I connect with a lot of people there that I haven’t met in real life. I like it partially because it’s not that popular anymore.”