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Name: MediaWest*Con
Dates: 1981-present
Frequency: annual
Location: Lansing, Michigan, United States
Type: fan-run
Focus: general science fiction, media fandom
Founding Date:
URL: MediaWest Main Website[1]

Subpages for MediaWest*Con:
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.


program for 1981, the year the convention was formally re-established as MediaWest*Con

MediaWest*Con (it was called: "MidWest*Con" the first two years) is a general SF/media convention, held every Memorial Day Weekend (the final weekend in May) in Lansing, Michigan. MediaWest*Con is sponsored by T'Kuhtian Press as a celebration of the diversity of SF/Media fandom, run by fans, for fans, and is staffed entirely by volunteers. It has no paid guests or speakers.

A fan in 1994 described it as one of the pinnacles of her year: "MediaWest, for me, boils down to a meeting of friends-cum-family, a unique union of minds, a whirlwind of pure creativity, good humor and bad puns, chocolate, and a healthy dose of hormones." [2]

About the Con Today

Membership is capped at 900.[3]

Con events include an art show and art auction, a vidshow, a Masquerade (costume contest), dealers' room where members can buy all sort of things including zines, and a variety of panels. MediaWest also hosts the annual FanQs, or "Fan Quality" awards. [3] In addition, there is a 'Door Decoration' Contest. A Video Room is offered where fans can watch episodes of their favorite TV shows along with a Fanzine Reading Room.[4] Finally, members can reserve the "Party Suite" to host parties with themes focusing on their favorite TV shows.

flyer for the first con in 1981, click to read

The con is family-friendly and thus leans heavily toward gen, but adult materials (both het and slash) materials are welcome as long as they're not blatantly in the face of small children. During the main vidshow, "mature" (het adult) vids are shown after 9pm, and slash vids are shown after the mature vids.

Space in the dealer's room often sold out quickly, leading to a tradition of fans in the main hotel selling zines and other fannish items out of their rooms. In the evenings after the dealer's room closes, many members make a circuit of all floors of the hotel, looking for rooms with open doors and merchandise to sell. Fans decorate their doors and often sections of the hallway for the door decoration contest, and to attract members to their room sales. Door decorations might be anything from a few posters to a Stargate, a Tardis, or a fireplace from Hogwarts. The hotel also allowed advertising flyers to be posted in elevators and foyers during the convention.


A pre-forerunner was KWest*Con. [5]

The first of the cons that would become MediaWest*Con was held in 1978 and organized by Lori Chapek-Carleton, Gordon Carleton, and Paula Smith who were zine publishers. This first con was called T'Con and held at the Lansing Hilton Inn. The second T'Con was held in 1979 and called "2'Con." [6]. (T'Con was descended from SekWestercon, the first by fans, for fans, Trek con.)

"We did not hold a convention in 1980. The plan at the time was to alternate every other year with other SF/Media conventions held elsewhere, in this case Mos' Eastly in New York. That plan didn't work out." [7]

The convention was formally re-established as "MidWest*Con" in 1981, a name the con had the first two years. It was year three that it was renamed "MediaWest" in deference to the influx of fandoms that were not Star Trek and Star Wars. [8]

The initial success and popularity of MediaWest led some fans to call for a multi-fandom media Worldcon in terms of scope and scale. One of the reasons behind this call was the ongoing marginalization that media fans felt from literary science fiction and fantasy community and that Worldcon was not a welcoming venue. Others wanted the various media fandom conventions to coordinate their schedules, if not combine their efforts.[9]

In 1983, Gordon Carleton put that possibility of a single media based Worldcon to rest:

"If there is ever to be a WorldCon-scale multi-media convention, in May or any other time, it will not be MediaWest*Con...MW*C was never intended to be in any way like a WorldCon. MW*C is intended to be an inexpensive, low-pressure convention with programming based on the input of its members. This is why we limit membership to a comfortable number. While we are complimented that some people may think of MW*C as "The Con" it was never intended to be anything but the convention that we put on in the best way we know how. MW*C is not an entity that can be put on by others anywhere else, nor is it something that can be voted on to alter its basic form and purpose. We suggest that people interested in [finding] a WordCon-scale convention ..[that will] recognize media/sf fen become involved in WorldCon. You know, the real thing? Wouldn't it be better to award a Fan Hugo than a pseudo-Fan Hugo? [At Worldcon], one is able to become involved in all the large committees, political infighting and all the other fun elements necessitated by planning an event on that scale."[10]

Additional historical info about the convention can be found here. More detailed info is here and here.

from the 1992 con, "Beyond Holidome"

Over the years, attendance at mediaWest has steadily declined. It remains however, the largest media fan run convention in the United States. To quote one of the 2010 attendees:

"The con once again was downsized due to the aging of the fandom that makes up its members, and the economy. It’s been that way for the last three years. We’ll see if the old energy comes back, but if it doesn’t, I’ve decided I wouldn’t want a reinvention. I don’t care about attracting younger and newer fen. I don’t give two hoots about gaming or any of their other interests, and have been to actor cons before. They’re fine, but it’s really nice to go to a con that doesn’t have to cater to actors’ egos. Also, mega-cons are fun in their way, but I like the more intimate setting here. So if it dies out, so what? It had a good run.
I do remember the old energy and miss it, but at least I had the good fortune to attend for several years when Media West was a destination for Fandom Central. My first con was pre-Net, and the second was when the Internet began to be available to everyone, but not all of us had access or even knowledge of how to use it. For years MW managed to co-exist with the Internet, the zines still plentiful in the Dealers’ Room and hall dealers’ rooms, and the vids were numerous and the Art Show bursting with creativity, taking the Art Auction four hours or more to get through all the pieces for bid (now it takes only two), but you still get the chance to talk to people in panels and informally. If that isn’t flashy enough for newer fen, then so be it. Nothing will ever replace my memory of attending my first Media West and feeling, Yes! This is the place where I belong! These are my people! ;)"[11]


Mediawest offers extensive programming: panels are held Friday through Monday. Topics can include discussions about TV shows, actors and feature films, both gen, het (mature/adult) and slash themes.[12] Some panels focus on literature while others look into meta discussions about trends in media fandom. Technical workshops are also offered on writing, vidding and crafting. Finally, a few hours of gaming are also offered. Excerpts from a sample program book from 2004 can be viewed here: Intro & Programming[1], Videos & Masquerade[2], Panels[3], Hotel & Dealer's Room[4], Fanzine Dealers & Art Auction[5], Art Auction & Classifieds[6], Fanzine & Event Ads[7], and More Fanzine & Event Ads[8]. A more recent example of the proposed 2008 programming is archived.

The MediaWest program book was later skewered by two fans in the NOT The MediaWest*Con Program Guides which were scattered anonymously throughout the convention.

Dealer's Room

For many years, MediaWest's biggest draw was its fanzine dealer's room. Hundreds of fanzines would premiere at MediaWest and when the dealer's room doors would open Friday morning, the "feeding frenzy' of buyers snapping up fanzines could be quite fierce. As print fanzines began to wan in popularity the number of premiering fanzines dwindled and the number of fanzine dealers followed suit. Still, even in 2012 over 43 fanzine, fan art, jewelery and other craft dealers attended the convention.

a somewhat blurry photo of a 'room dealer' taken at MediaWest 2006. The door has been decorated as part of the Door Decoration contest

MediaWest is also one of the few fan run conventions that allows "room dealers" or "hall deralers" (fans selling their zines and other memorabilia from their hotel rooms). The room dealers rely heavily on MediaWest's liberal hotel flyer policy as posting the flyers in the hallways and elevators (with a description of the zine along with a room number) is often the only way to attract buyers.

In 2012, as part of a Facebook listing of memories of MediaWest one fan said: "... I'm also remembering the feeding frenzy for zines.... How people would burst into the dealers' room in a great wave at MW, and they'd be ten deep at the tables, frantically waving money at the sellers." Another fan added: "I remember standing in the main Dealer's Room at the old hotel, when a box filled with the new issue of some popular Star Wars fanzine (Kessel Run) arrived. It was placed on a table as a large crowd of anxious fans stood around, waiting. That box was emptied and all the zines sold and gone within a couple of minutes."[13]


MediaWest sponsors an annual fund raising drive to "assist a fan in attending a convention of his/her choice, that he/she would otherwise be unable to attend." The SF/Media Fan Fund accepts nominations from the membership for the next year and then the attendees vote on the current recipient. Donors are asked to send $2 with their vote. More information and a list of the winners dating back to 1978 (pre-dating MediaWest) can be found here.

MediaWest also sponsors a blood drive at the convention. Door prizes are donated by members and handed out to the donors. Donors can also read fanzines while giving blood.

Fanzine or "FanQ" Awards

from The New Monthly: a list of new zines making their debut at Media West in 1998, click to enlarge

Many editors planned to have their new zines premiere at the con, and fans waited eagerly to see, and buy, the newest offerings. The "FanQ" or "Fan Quality Awards" were awards given by convention attendees in recognition of the best work appearing in fanzines. More info can be found here. A list of the winners year by year can be found here.

Fanzine Debut

MediaWest had always been a place for zineds to introduce new zines. A natural fan-gathering spot, the con's Fan Q Awards also added to the appeal of bringing one's zine out at what some considered media fans' biggest party of the year.

In 1995, one fan questioned the trend of the con becoming the penultimate debut for print fanworks.

I've started illustrating for fanzines again, and I've noticed an uncomfortable trend in fanzine publishing, at least within the fringe I currently call home. All save one of the zines I illustrated for are slated for MediaWestCon '95 release. It's not a biological imperative, like salmon heading upstream at spawning time (at least, I don't think it is), it's an economic one. Zine publishing is an expensive proposition, so publication is timed for the best chance for recouping those expenses quickly. That chance appears to be MediaWest.

Also, many fen are no longer willing to purchase zines through the mail, even from reputable editors or publishers whose work they know (well, except maybe through Bill Hupe's fannish version of Publishers Clearinghouse-no offense intended, Bill). Many fans save up all year for their MediaWest*Con fanzine feeding frenzy, and that's their zine-buying for the year. Maybe they don't want to pay postage. Maybe they've been burned in the past by publishers who took their money and in return sent drek -- or nothing at all.

Both these patterns of behavior are reasonable and eminently understandable. But the combination is turning into a vicious circle, with the one factor exacerbating the other to the point where supply and demand revolve crazily around one weekend a year.

This puts enormous strain on fandom's creative resources -- authors, writers, and editors -- during those last few months before MediaWest (what some refer to as the "MediaWest Crunch"), and I find myself wondering whether this is affecting the quality of material being published. Is quality being sacrificed for the sake of getting the product out in time to catch the first wave (Thursday night, I'm told) of the MW*C feeding frenzy? [14]

Song Video Contest

the hallways of the convention are filled with flyers for fanzines and room parties and other convention events. This photo was taken during the 2011 Media West

MediaWest holds an annual Song Video (or songvid) contest for fan video makers. Vids are divided into various categories: Song Interpretation - Single Medium, Song Interpretation - Multi-Media, Humorous, Constructed Reality, Best Credits, Best Video Box and Best Video Flyer.

Entrants were formerly limited to no more than 15 minutes of video per person or group, and all vids were truly premieres. After submissions fell sharply in the late 00s, the 15 minute rule and requirement that submitting vidders also be attending or supporting members of the con were dropped. Vids must still be new to Media West, but they may be ones that have been previously shown elsewhere.

In addition adult themed or slash vids are segregated from the main show. "Mature" (het adult) vids are shown after 9pm, and slash vids are shown after the mature vids. While there is no entry fee, vidders must either volunteer or arrange to find someone to volunteer in the video room in order to show their vids. This makes it difficult for the non-attending vidder to submit their videos and may be one of the reasons that video submissions have declined recently as more and more vidding is displayed online. Other fans have cited discomfort with the con's policies for slash vids as a reason not to submit vids. Many fans posting vids online may also not have heard of the con or know little about it. In 2009, there were not enough entries for competition and the video show information is not available for 2010. Contest winners from previous years can be found on each individual convention year page. However, information for vid shows prior to 1998 is still being actively sought.

Because the Media West vid show played a significant role in the development of vidding culture (see The Genealogy of Vidding) in 2007 Vividcon devoted their own vidshow to showcase vids that had appeared at Media West over the years. A playlist can be found here.[15]

poster advertising for the 2011 MediaWest vid show by Spaced Ponies, a vidding group

Vid Submission Requirements

The current policies can be found on the official MWC vid contest page. Vids must be new to the con. Submission is via physical format, either VHS or DVD, and gen, mature, and slash vids must be separate.

Other Contests Winners

In addition to the FanQ Awards and the Vid Show Contest, MediaWest offers several other contests. Among them a Masquerade Contest, Art Show Contest and Door Decoration Contest. The Masquerade contest and the Door Decoration Contest are judged; however the Art Show is determined by popular vote. The winners of these contests are often listed separately from the FanQ Awards. The information for each contest, where available, can be found listed on each convention subpage by year.

Door Decoration Contest & Art Gallery

sample door award certificate. This one is for the Sherlock Holmes themed door "I Believe" that won in 2013

MediaWest offers a Door Decoration contest where fans decorate their hotel room doors with media themes and then are judged for originality and creativity. This is a unique contest as the majority of hotels do not allow guests to tape anything to the walls and doors. However, like the extensive flyers which are posted at the hotel entrance at near the elevators at each floor, door decoration has become an integral part of the convention experience. [Note: when did the door decoration contest begin?]

The MediaWest convention website does not offer detailed information on the Door Decoration Contest. To learn the rules, fans must pay to become members and wait for the intermittent progress reports. This makes it difficult for fans who are new to the convention to plan and participate in the contest. Still, the contest remains a draw to both new and old members.

From the 2012 progress report: "Registration will be required. Forms will be available at con registration. Judging will take place between 5pm Saturday and noon Sunday. Overall judging will be based on the following criteria: Artistic Impression (pretty), Cleverness, Humor, Originality, Technical/Complexity, and Workmanship (neatness counts). Awards will be certificates of recognition."Starting in 2012, the winner of “Best In Show” door will receive up to 2 free memberships to next years’ convention.

Below is a representative sample of a door photos from each year that are currently available. Additional door decoration photos are on each convention subpage by year.

Room Lottery

Because in the past the main hotel generally did not have enough space for all of the attendees, a room lottery for the main hotel is held. The lottery was put in place in 1995[16] after some fans complained that the hotel rooms were being booked at the convention for the next year - this then meant that new attendees or members who could not plan a year in advance could not get rooms in the main hotel. In the 1994 Program Book, the convention organizers wrote:
"This system was set up after long discussions with the Holiday Inn South after we received many complaints that people were shut out last year before they had a chance to even attempt to reserve a room at the Holiday Inn South. To date, we have received complaints from approximately 25 people who do not like the new system. Give it a try for 1995, and we are open to suggestions on how to handle room reservation requests at the hotel for future years. For those who wonder, we have always determined MediaWest*Con's location based on the amount of function space. The Holiday Inn South is the largest hotel in Lansing, and also has the largest number of nearby hotels. Because we live in Lansing, we do not anticipate moving MediaWest*Con outside the area. There are facilities with more function space, but they are more limited In terms of immediately available hotel guest rooms."
In the years that followed the lottery (which the convention organizers call a "room reservation" system), some attendees seemed satisfied with the system. As one fan explained in the 2012 Facebook thread:
"Personally, we have no problem with the lottery. When the system works, we're notified in January if we have a room, and if not are given a choice if we want to be put on a waiting list and still have 4 months to find an alternative. The first few years I attended MWC I chose not to participate in the lottery and thought I would save a few sheckles by making my own reservations in a local motel. I may have saved about $20, but also had noisy traffic outdoors, thin walls, few pillows, mold on the walls and shower curtains, and none of the conveniences or amenities of the host hotel. It didn't take me long to switch. I'm now spoiled by the lottery, which seems the fairest way to work it until someone comes up with something better."[17]
However, not all fans support the lottery system. Some fans have complained that late notification or other problems with the lottery and the fact that nearby overflow hotels aren't within walking distance makes it impossible for them to attend. Even as early as 1995, fans were critical of the lottery system. In 1995 Mary Bloemeker held an informal survey on rec.arts.sf.fandom about the room lottery:
"I've been asked by several people for the results of the informal poll I conducted a few months ago here and on a few other online services as well as the Internet, about the MediaWest*Con hotel room lot--ah, assignment policy. While I now freely admit that my sole motivation in conducting the survey in the first place was to find out to what incredible and bizarre conclusions that some people might jump to about my motivations (a smashing success), I did come across some surprising results.

Of the approximately twenty replies, only two seemed to be in active support of the room assignment system. I say seem' because the two respondents seemed a lot more interested in telling me what my problem was than in actually answering the question. Of the remaining replies, I was surprised to discover that the main assumption that was being made about who would respond to my survey--that is, that only those disgruntled by having not gotten a room via the new system would bother to respond-- turned out not to be true at all. There were two (yes, two) people who confessed to having not gotten a room under the system, and both had immediately signed on with a friend who had gotten a room because all the people who intended to room together submitted separate applications, enhancing their chances of getting at least one room. The rest of the respondents were split about down the middle, between those who _did_ get a room under the system and those who would have never gotten a room under any circumstances, because they could never know from one year to the next whether they'd be able to attend the con in the first place. The primary objection in all those cases was that the system didn't address what the respondents felt was the real problem, which was that the hotel rooms only went to those people who could plan on attending the convention a year in advance. For those who couldn't plan that far ahead, the new system is no better than first-come, first-served and certainly no fairer.

I didn't hear from anyone who felt that they actually benefitted from the new system over the old one, though it would have been nice to get a response like that just to get a little balance and I still wouldn't mind hearing from someone coming from that perspective." [18]
And in 1995, at least one large fanzine publisher stopped attending MediaWest due to the room lottery.
"ORION PRESS, a fan-run, fan-supported press which has served Star Trek fandom for over fourteen years, has decided it will not have any presence at MediaWest*Con 15. Our decision is based on the unprecedented institution of a room lottery system which has left a number of our readers, contributors and editors without rooms in the convention hotel, thereby diminishing our enjoyment of the convention as well as adding undue expense to our convention budget. This being the case, ORION PRESS wishes to inform those readers who normally attend MediaWest*Con in order to purchase our zines that we will be taking part in REVELcon, ShoreLeave and other 1995 conventions to be announced later. We hope that ORION PRESS will be able to return to MediaWest*Con in future years. We will do so when the lottery assignment policies are replaced with something we and our readers find more acceptable."[19]

As convention attendance is now much lower than in the 1980s and 1990s, some fans now wonder if the lottery system is still needed.[20] Like it or hate it, the lottery is very unusual; almost every other major con operates on a first come first served basis.

After the 2012 convention, the MediaWest organizers put out a call for suggestions for ways to improve the convention. Most responses raised two concerns: the need to find ways to attract both new and returning fans and eliminating the room lottery (which many felt would help attract new and returning fans). The latter suggestion received the most resistance from the convention organizers who, after fielding multiple inquiries, finally explained that:
"We have been very clear that we don't intend to change the early reservation system in any drastic way...I have thought [about these issues] for considerably more than a minute, as the same tired arguments have been made for years. Tales of unnamed friends and hypothetical new people [who are being driven away by the reservation system] are, indeed, apocryphal horror stories....Perhaps if people want to be helpful they could try not making the early reservation system sound scary to prospective members....Bottom line is, piss us off enough and there will be no MW*C."[21]

In the 2004 Program Book, the convention organizers offered "A Brief History of the MediaWest*Con Hotel Reservation Request Policy". See the 2004 Convention Page.

Joan Verba's Memories of the First Media West in 1981

From Boldly Writing:
The fanzine convention of the year was MediaWest Con I, held on May 22-25 at the Lansing Hilton. The convention committee consisted of Paula Smith, Lori Chapek-Carleton, and Gordon Carleton. The convention was truly a 'media' convention, now. Only three panels were wholly about Star Trek. One panel, 'Fan Wars or the ST-SW Feud], was partially about Star Trek. (To the best of my memory, the panel featured a lot of grumbling, but no real resolution. Time took care of most of this sort of friction.) The remaining panels were of other fandoms (mostly Star Wars) or generic topics such as author/editor relationships. In order to better inform fans about the nominees for the Fan Q, the committee put together a booklet with excerpts from the nominees, called The Fifth Annual Fan Q Awards 1981 Nominations Booklet. Winners were Bev Clark as favorite editor for Skywalker 4 (Star Wars), Barbara Wenk as favorite short story author, for 'Imperial Soliloquy,' in Warped Space (Star Wars), Paula Block as favorite poet for 'Stargame' (Star Wars), Joni Wagner as favorite artist for Facets 4 (Star Wars), and Barbara Wenk for favorite long story author for One Way Mirror. The voters also persuaded the Fan Q committee to divide the next year's awards into interest categories. This convention was the first time I encountered the 'all Star Trek fanzines nowadays are K/S' attitude (though it was certainly not the last). The theory was not true at that time, or at any time afterwards. The myth, however, persisted among many fans, especially former Star Trek fanzine fans, to this day. For example, in the July/August 1981 issue of Universal Translator, of the all-Star Trek fanzines, I counted over 90 non-K/S fanzines, as opposed to only 3 K/S. Although the K/S fanzines became more numerous, proportionately, with time, K/S fanzines generally made up less than half of all-Star Trek fanzines.

Other Memories of Years Gone By

In October 2012 a fan wrote of her memories of MediaWest:
"Baltimore was the Mecca for Star Trek fandom, Lansing, Michigan was the Mecca for general media fandom because of The MediaWest Convention. For my friend who adored Starsky and Hutch, it was a meeting place for that group. And it would be the place I would get to meet Man from U.N.C.L.E. fans who lived in other parts of the United States and Canada.

My early years at Shore Leave had been the most fun I’d had up to that point; Media West rivaled those times, with the added bonus of having a best friend who was as enthused about my show as I was. The convention lasted five days, with about 900 fans of a variety of shows: Man from U.N.C.L.E., Dr. Who, Star Wars, Stargate, Starsky and Hutch... even Walker, Texas Ranger. And of course Star Trek fandom which never died.

Regular programming included discussion panels, continuous videos, art shows and an art auction. The dealers' room offered books, memorabilia, and fanzines -- amateur publications written by fans.

The convention hotel, Holiday Inn South, was taken over by fans during the entire weekend. The convention lasted five days. It was a continuous party, being so much fun that I resented that I had to spend some of the time sleeping. There is nothing that is more fun than watching an episode of your favorite show with 30 fan friends giving commentary that revealed insights you never thought of before about your favorite characters."[22]

In June 2012, a Facebook thread was begun asking fans to share their memories. A few memories are excerpted below, and the full thread can be read here.[23]

  • "Some of our best memories come from the art show - the great characters doing the auctioning, the great art, the prices some things went for, the Invisible Man (I don't think I've ever laughed so hard!), raising money for people's pets or surgery or dental bills and being staggered (but not really surprised) by people's generosity when help was needed, terrific panels..."
  • "I remember seeing a game of Fizzbin in the piano pit the first year we moved into the new hotel, and the staff were staggered when they heard bets of "My creaky old spaceship" and "The Silly Rabbit Galaxy"! And then the hilarity when gameplay stopped because everyone had to crawl around -- counterclock-wise, of course! -- on the floor, and bark three times before resuming their chairs. The winner was decided when the last challenger left pinned him to the floor and made him recite the opening of the Star Trek theme. I had more fun watching the hotel staff's eyes widen in amazement than the actual goings-on."
  • "My favorite memories are about the excitement that would swirl around certain editors bringing new zines out for the con. People would be so looking forward to the latest innovation someone was introducing to zine publishing. The dealers room would be buzzing with speculation and commentary. A good-natured competition to see who could be first at something. It was an exciting time to be in zine publishing."
  • "How many of you remember the big groups of people who used to roam the convention in costume? The Robin of Sherwood fans? Star Wars (John and Jenni Hennig and that bunch)! The Phantom of the Opera group/costumers? There used to be a group of young men who did the funniest costumes and skits." And "What you're remembering is our attempts to win the "best cheap" costume award. One year [we] wrapped a single Tom Baker Dr. Who scarf around ourselves and went as "Renegade Doctors in Bondage". Another year we covered ourselves in bandages and were "All of Harrison Ford's Injuries"
  • "My first experience with the FOE [Blaster] battle was when some stranger ran into our room (our door was open to sell zines) and yelled, "Hide me, hide me!" I yelled back, "Who *are* you?" He waved his blaster. "I'm a rebel!" I pushed him into the bathroom and into the bathtub, then pulled the shower curtain closed, just as the stormtroopers ran down the hall. One glanced into our room and I just smiled at him beatifically. They moved on, and I let the rebel out of the bathroom, gave him a piece of pizza and he took off down the hallway with a howl, "Kessel run? Hah! I just stowed away in a *bathtub*!"
In 2011 one fan mused about Mediawest in the 1980s:
" I got active in fandom (writing fanfic) back around 1980 and attending cons about the same time. My first media con was one mostly dedicated to fanzines, their writers, filk singing, what we now know as cosplay, and performing various skits (many of which were truly hilarious). Slash fic was common even then with a large number of them being sold (complete with artwork). What amazed me at the time was that most of the people I spoke to (and there were many) who wrote slash fic were female and straight. And most of the people reading it were female and straight as well. They raved about it. They craved it and bought hundreds of dollars worth of zines about it. To this day all I can do is scratch my head and ask why?"[24]

Information On Other Years

Information on other years, including art show winners, masquerade contest winners, door decoration contest, convention reports and photos can be found on each convention subpage by year

Convention Reports

""Media West was great. I have to say that, going into it, I did not know what to expect and some of my expectations were incorrect. For one thing, MW is totally a fan-sponsored and produced event. I thought there would be TV promoters pushing stuff for various shows. There was none of that. There was, however, more than 100 fan dealers throughout the hotel. The Dealer Room was great, but I really found some treasures in the dealer hotel rooms... There were introductions and discussion groups for various fandoms going on all the time." (excerpt from a fan's 1996 Convention Report).

In more recent years, as attendance has declined, the tone of the convention has mellowed:

"I will always go to spend time with my friends and to enjoy face to face discussions in the panels. It's the only time of the year I get to see some of my friends face to face. But I miss the number of people, the fun of the art auction, and just the overall con atmosphere that has been diminished, at least for me, for the past couple of years. I hate that the whole con is beginning to feel a bit like one big dead dog party."[25]

For more con reports by fans, see the convention subpages for each year.


  1. Special note: from time to time, Mediawest pages go offline and/or internal wesbite links break. Where possible, we will link to the more stable links stored on the Internet Archive. Up to date info can be found at the main MediaWest website.--Morgan Dawn 19:46, 31 October 2009 (UTC)
  2. from Southern Enclave #39
  3. 3.0 3.1, accessed September 1, 2009. While membership may be capped at 900, attendance at MediaWest has been declining as the convention ages and little outreach has been made to newer, more Internet based fans. Convention attendance at MediaWest 31 in 2011 was put at around 600 - still a respectable number for a multi-fandom fan run convention.
  4. MediaWest 2002 Fanzine Reading Room information page].
  5. "The Kalamazoo con (starting with KWest*Con way back in 1974!) did not start out as strictly ST cons, and in fact, never were, though Trek gained in emphasis over the years. T'Con was mostly Trek, but 2'Con was a blend, and Mor' Eastlerly was even more so." -- from Lori Chapek-Carleton in 1981, as per her letter to Interstat #42
  7. A brief history of MediaWest*Con, accessed March 26, 2011]
  8. from a 2010 interview with Paula Smith for Transformative Works and Cultures
  9. In issue #13 of Jundland Wastes one fan write: "I love your idea of having an annual media convention each year in the same manner in which the World Science Fiction Conventions are held, alternating bet ween the three major portions of the entire country. The way it is being done now has caused dissension and bitterness to an incredible degree. Just this past weekend at PhilCon, I almost got into an argument with a friend of several years standing over the fact that one of us is going to MediaWest*Con and the other to Altercon. It's a ridiculous situation when two conventions are held in the same part of the country on the same exact weekend for the same exact reasons when the basic reason for the dissension leading to the two separate conventions boils down to money and location. If there is a major convention held in different parts of the country by different people every year, then both problems will be solved." dated March 1983.
  10. Gordon Carleton's letter "media no world con" printed in Jundland Wastes issue #14, May 1983.
  11. bradygirl-12's MediaWest Convention report, dated May 2010.
  12. MediaWest was the direct descendant of SeKWester*Con, the first Star Trek relaxacon held in 1976. Even then, the convention had one panel discussing slash, out of ten panels total -- about 10% of the programming. The slash percentage of overall programming held steady until at least the late 1990s (see the Slash Programming Debate of 1998). A more recent breakdown of slash vs gen vs het programming is not available.
  13. MediaWest Reminiscing on Facebook dated June 12, 2012.
  14. from the editorial in Psst... Hey Kid, Wanna Buy a Fanzine? #5
  15. reference link.
  16. Need to confirm date. Mentioned in the 1994 program guide for the following year. Also would help to understand when the random number assignments began.
  17. Comment posted in Barbara Staton's "I have a few questions for Lori and Gordon" dated June 11, 2012 (now locked).
  18. dated June 18 1995; link.
  19. letter sent to the adzine GAZ dated April 1995.
  20. The hotel has 300 rooms which are contractually guaranteed to MediaWest attendees. In 2012, the convention organizers estimated attendance around 500. Some fans felt that because most rooms were shared, there was sufficient hotel rooms and that the room lottery was no longer needed. Others pointed to the presence of non-convention hotel guests as further proof that there were now an adequate number of rooms. The convention organizers disagree with these conclusions. Deb Walsh's "Let's discuss ways to improve MediaWest' Facebook thread dated June 6-7, 2012.
  21. A series of Gordon Carleton's responses pulled from Deb Walsh's "Let's discuss ways to improve MediaWest' Facebook thread dated June 6-7, 2012 and fromDianne 'greenwoman' Wickes "I Have Some Thoughts" post on Facebook dated June 7, 2012. Note that the convention organizers are actively moderating the Facebook discussions and are deleting comments (thread now locked)
  22. Star Trek, U.N.C.L.E., Lansing and MI-O8 at the Daily Kos by JamieG dated October 30, 2012;reference link.
  23. Initially open to the public, now requires a Facebook account).
  24. Myka & H.G Wells dated July 18, 2011; reference link.
  25. MediaWest*Con 33 Suggestions Post on Facebook by greenwoman, dated June 7, 2012.
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