Mary Bigham: Hardest-Working Blogger in West Chester

I’ve been having a great time bragging on West Chester since I stopped commuting to NYC in January. West Chester is filled with smart people who are really good at what they do. Yesterday, I bragged on Harold Ross. Today, I (almost literally) ran into another local luminary in the Pantheon of West Chester’s Awesomeness, so I’m gonna take a moment to brag on her and her blog project.

maryb_remote.jpgI was riding my sidecar rig to Starbucks this morning to get some coffee for Kate and me*, and Mary Bigham of the West Chester Dish restaurant blog flagged me down. She was doing a radio remote for local AM-talk station WCOJ, and she had me answer a few questions about breakfast on air.If JT in the studio (and on the phone) guessed what my answer was going to be correctly three out of five times, I’d win circus tickets.

Tip: if you want a radio DJ to guess what you’re gonna answer correctly, don’t claim your favorite breakfast drink is “Tang” because of the astronaut connotations.

Anyhow, in my career as Internet Court Magician to big companies, they’ve often wanted to know what the New Generation of Bloggers will do with the Internet. “How will the Internet Natives use blogs for business?” ask a hundred hand-wringing Forrester reports.

The answer is “Very well, thank you!” Mary’s food blog at looks great, is updated frequently, and has a friendly, clear, and enthusiastic editorial voice. It’s done on a shoestring, mostly by Mary and her designer/programmer Jason Tremblay. That gives it a “let’s put on a show in the barn!” vibe that makes established multinational interactive shops quake in their boots: “Wait, we just did a food site for a million dollars, and it doesn’t have THAT. Or THAT…” For my developer friends, it’s a highly-tweaked instance of WordPress, with clever mapping of tags to cuisines. It’s a great use of the blog model as a content-management framework, pushing it past just “sequenced updates published in a stack.”

Mary works her cross-channel marketing, too: she writes a column for the local paper, has a weekly radio show, and generally hustles like the scrappy newsboy from a Horatio Alger book. She just won “Business Woman of the Year” from the Women’s Referral Network of Chester County. Besides being great news for her, it’s a sign that new media has arrived. Now it’s simply “media”, and it’s a normal part of the local business ecosystem. THIS is what the internet natives are doing; the same community stuff that folks have been doing all along. They’re working hard, and making stuff that reeks of WIN.

Fortunately, I managed to win the circus tickets with the calculatedly-populist answers “Cold Pizza”, “Brinner“, and “I skipped it this morning”. Phew! Mary then moved on to the next fellow walking down the street. Good luck winning circus tickets, friend! Don’t answer “Tang!”


* Believe me, I know that driving a sidecar rig to Starbucks is a white-person train wreck. In 2002, while commuting daily to DC for work, I called in to a Baltimore hip-hop radio station for Wednesday morning “White People Check-in”, but the call screener (the “Black Pather Princess”) refused to believe that I was actually white. I sounded whiter, she said, than any white person actually sounds. Than it is POSSIBLE to sound. “Work on your imitation!” she said, and hung up.

UPDATE: In March 2009, Mary launched a bi-weekly supplement in the Daily Local News called “CC:”, which is all about local restaurants, entertainment, and nightlife. You can check it out at Mary has crossed the line from blogging into print, which is a tough trick — but if anyone can pull it off, she can!

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