Do You Blog?
Meet Tampa Bay’s best-read bloggers
In their circle of peers, they’re among the elite of writers.
Toiling away in near anonymity, they tap away daily at their keyboard,
sharing news, views and even the muse of their everyday lives.
They’re the authors of some of the most-read blogs in Tampa Bay. And until now, you probably never knew they existed.
Web logs – commonly called blogs – are not new, but the popularly
of the online journals has grown exponentially over the past few
months. One respected Internet search engine recently reported it was
tracking 14.2-million blogs at the end of July. That’s double the
amount from even five months ago, according to the report from
What’s the attraction? Blog writers will say it’s the ability to
communicate even the most trivial of thoughts instantly and uncensored
to a world-wide audience.
"I was so impressed by the idea that anyone could get their ideas
out into the universe with a blog, so I went at it gung-ho," said
Rachel Moran, the 24-year-old author of the Tampa blog Midnight
Most of Tampa Bay’s better-read bloggers have a few things in common:
* Frequent updates. David Bloom, who writes a Devil Rays blog, often posts twice a day.
* They lead interesting lives – and aren’t shy about sharing the
dirty details with everyone. Moran, for example, openly wrote about her
June arrest for DUI. "A lot of people are astounded that I’ll write
about it so freely," she said. "The ways in which the charge has
affected my life create some magnificent blog scenarios." (Since this
story was written, Moran contacted tbt* to report that she
withdrew from Stetson Law School earlier this month because Stetson
"made it clear that several elements about the blog’s content seemed to
indicate my lifestyle was incompatible with what they wanted out of
their students." Her trial is pending.)
* It’s all about Tampa Bay. There are plenty of bloggers out there
dissecting the latest Washington scandal. But in his Seminole Heights
blog, David Scott Banghart keeps his focus squarely on his Tampa
Here’s a closer look at a few must-read Tampa Bay blogs.
• Blog name: Sarah in Tampa
On the Web: www.sarahintampa.com
Author: Sarah Perez, 29
Lives: Wesley Chapel
Profession/career: Systems administrator for La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries of Tampa Bay.
What makes it great: Computer tips, tech news and lots of
links make up the bulk of the blog. But personal photos from the author
and a great page design give it real class.
From the blogger: "When I first started blogging, I was
over at Blogger and I was keeping more of an online journal. When I
moved to Typepad, my posts became less personal and more about tech
subjects – software, the net, what Google’s been up to – because that
is what interests me."
Watch out, Google: "I find myself Googling my own blog
sometimes because it’s almost easier to do that than to hunt through my
bookmarks folder for the link I need," Perez said.
Favorite Web sites: news.com, wired.com/news, techiediva.blogs.com/weblog, msn.com
• Blog name: Midnight Culmination
On the Web: www.midnightculmination.com
Author: Rachel Moran, 24
Lives in: Tampa
Profession: Looking for work right now
What makes it great: Photos, audio, video and every detail
on the social life of the now former law student living in Ybor City.
Another blogger describes it as "curiously interesting."
From the blogger: "I seriously care about the things that
most people seem to think are superficial or inane, but I think these
are things that determine your quality of life. I got a butter-melting
compliment from someone the other day that I put "a golden glow’ around
Secret to her success: Following reader feedback.
"Commenting is a form of mini-blogging when it’s done well," she said.
"I went through a few weeks where I was everyone’s favorite a–hole,
and I felt so sad and disheartened by it. But then, suddenly, I
realized it meant I was doing a seriously spectacular job of blogging.
People who want to hate on you are people who are reading."
• Blog name: Seminole Heights
On the Web: seminoleheights.blogspot.com
Author: David Scott Banghart, 47
City: Tampa (Seminole Heights)
Profession: Senior child protection specialist at the Child Protection Team at Tampa General Hospital.
What makes it great: If it happens in Seminole Heights,
you will read about it here. Banghart’s blog reads like a daily
neighborhood newspaper – only far more interesting.
From the blogger: "The blog both reports on neighborhood
activism and promotes it, so it crosses the boundaries that the normal
news media hasn’t. I know that local reporters from both major
newspapers read the blog to facilitate their reporting on neighborhood
How he does it: "I write about what I know best: my
neighborhood. I get my stories by keeping my eyes open to new or
interesting things in the ‘hood, and by following up on the question,
"I wonder why?’ when I see something. … I go out and talk to people.
I treat my blog as a very local newspaper, with investigative
reporting, personal experience, news, opinion and commentary, politics,
restaurant reviews, muckraking, activism and cheerleading."
• Blog name: Tampa Film Fan
On the Web: tampafilmfan.blogspot.com
Author: Lisa Ciurro, 35
Profession: Assistant director of the Tampa International
Film Festival (volunteer position); works in the communications
department of a large non-profit organization.
What makes it great: It features an exhaustive list of
film festivals – both local and on TV. Not bad for someone who’s
neither a film critic or scholar.
From the blogger: "This area has such a variety of film
screenings – from the traditional theater venue to museums, art
galleries and coffeehouses – but there wasn’t one place to go to find
out about them all easily. So that’s how the Tampa Film Fan blog began.
I’ve since expanded to include news from local film studios, movie
reviews, links to local movie theaters, and posts about local writers,
actors and their films."
On her niche: "I try to be a little different from other movie Web sites and blogs by providing useful information for local film fans."
• Blog name: Sticks of Fire
On the web: www.sticksoffire.com
Author: Tommy Duncan, 37
Profession: Lead singer of Johnny G. Lyon Band (jglb.net)
What makes it great: Possibly the favorite, most-linked-to
blogger in Tampa Bay, Duncan is the authority on the area’s nightlife.
But when he focuses his attention on local and state politics, he shows
off his real talent – a stinging, satirical wit.
From the blogger: "I’m limited in time, so I have a
million posts half-written, waiting for further research. Mostly I try
to address the hot local topic. On slow news days, I’m able to catch up
on those half-written ideas."
What drives him: A love of local history, Duncan said.
"I’ll pick a name or place and try to learn more about it. Whenever I
research something, I learn a bunch. The blog gives me an easy way to
keep it all together. Hopefully I’ll have time read it all over again
when I’m old."
Favorite Web sites: www.tampabayhistorycenter.org seminoleheights.blogspot.com
• Blog name: DRays Bay
On the Web: www.draysbay.com
Author: David Bloom, 38 (along with co-writer Jim Wisinski)
Lives: North Carolina (Tampa native)
Profession: Java software developer
What makes it great: Hyper-detail on the Rays, along with
a commentary on each day’s lineup prior to the game, makes for the a
must-read site for any fan of the home team. Though Bloom doesn’t live
in Tampa Bay, he’s in the home of the team’s AAA affiliate, the Durham
From the blogger: "How ’bout that lowly team – the Tampa
Bay Devil Rays. Sure, they will be bad. But at least it will be fun
watching these players develop."
Why he added a second writer: "Jim Wisinski formerly wrote the blog called Z-Rays (http://www.z-tiger.com) I was impressed with his writing so I invited him aboard."
• Blog name: St. Petersblog
On the Web: stpetersblog.blogspot.com
Author: Daryl Umberger, 41
Lives: St. Petersburg
Profession: Communications assistant for a medical software company.
What makes it great: As one of only a handful of local photos blogs, St. Petersblog
features unusual yet compelling images from around the bay area.
From the blogger: "I originally bought my camera for personal use, and to build a personal
photo stock to help me illustrate brochures, newsletters, Web pages, etc. for my work,”
Umberger said. "Soon I had a surplus of photos and decided that there was a lot that people
weren’t seeing because they never get out of their cars and walk.”
Why he started: ""I had been reading other blogs and was thinking about how the form could
be translated on a local level.”
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