When it comes to small businesses, there’s certainly no shortage in Bucks County. And most (if not all) of the owners have a story to tell.
In order to introduce these individuals to residents and tourists alike, Visit Bucks County recently launched its first-ever podcast, From the Locals. With a new episode released each month featuring a business owner, the new audio series aims to highlight all that’s unique about the county, as told from the perspective of those who know it best.
“I think people love that. When you go to visit somewhere, whether you’re staying at a place or going to a restaurant or attraction, if you learn a little more about the people behind the scenes and their story, it resonates a little bit more,” said Visit Bucks County president and COO Paul Bencivengo. “It has more meaning for you.”
The inaugural episode spotlights Timothy Mourer, owner of The Happy Mixer – a gluten-free bakery located in Chalfont and stop on VBC’s Sweet Spots Trail. In a 30-minute interview with host Brooke Hillman, a Bucks County resident and frequent contributor to VBC’s online From the Locals blog, Mourer discusses his baking beginnings, what visitors can expect when they visit his shop, and why he is proud to own and run his business in the same area where he grew up.
“We’re really happy with the way it turned out. If you listen to it, she [Hillman] just has a great voice and tone to her. That makes it sound engaging. It keeps your attention,” said Bencivengo. “We’re trying to keep them under 30 minutes or so, and that is a longer format. But in order to tell somebody’s story behind how they started their business, why they got involved in the business and then what they can offer, that amount of time just felt right.”
Bencivengo explained how the podcast complements the long-running From the Locals blog, available on VisitBucksCounty.com, which includes posts on things to do, Bucks County history, arts and culture and recreation, all written by locals.
“People love the blog. They love seeing the locals’ content because it gives it more of a personal feel. It’s from someone who doesn’t necessarily work for the tourism office. You’re hearing it from the inside,” said Bencivengo. “We felt like the next evolution from the blog content was to move to a podcast. We know there’s lots of people who listen to podcasts and download them on their phone, whether they’re commuting to work, or now they’re listening to podcasts as they take walks. We thought it was an opportunity to leverage.”
According to Bencivengo, VBC has been contemplating a podcast since before COVID-19. After several successful digital initiatives, including the YouTube series Check In, which goes behind the scenes at local bed and breakfasts, introducing a podcast finally felt right this year. Though staff considered postponing its launch due to the pandemic, they ultimately decided to go ahead with it.
“No matter where life takes us, we always keep our hometown close at heart,” Bencivengo said. “We felt it was important to move forward with this project, as it will help distribute important content about the hospitality industry. Hearing the locals’ perspectives through podcast platform, we hope to inspire outsiders to want to come and explore Bucks County.”
Carl Glassman, owner of New Hope’s Wedgewood Inn, will be the featured guest on the next episode of From the Locals. Topics of the third and fourth episodes are in the process of being confirmed, and could be altered as owners continue to adapt to COVID-19.
Regarding the tourism and hospitality industry as a whole, Bencivengo said it’s in a much better spot than it was in April.
“Now that we’re in the green phase, some of the attractions are beginning to reopen. They’re putting in great ways to keep people safe. We’re making sure to share a lot of that information on our website and on social media,” he said. “As an industry, we’re just navigating through this. In years prior, we’d be in full swing advertising to outside of the county. But we’re keeping a lot of the social posts more regional to help get the economy moving, keeping it targeted at locals and people that are within Pennsylvania. If you want to go out, travel a little bit, have a staycation, you can do that and feel safe.”
Currently, VBC is seeking From the Locals blog contributors with a passion for mountain biking, kayaking and exploring local parks and trails.
“We’re looking for those people who would want to give a nice little description on, ‘Here’s a trail you could take if you’ve got a bike. Here’s what to expect and what kind of level of expertise you’d maybe want to use,’” Bencivengo said. “We’re looking for those outdoor adventure seekers.”
Visit visitbuckscounty.com/about-us/contact-us/ to submit a post pitch. As for the From the Locals podcast, free access is available through Spotify, iHeartRadio, iTunes/Apple, Google Podcasts and VisitBucksCounty.com/Podcast. New episodes will typically air at the beginning of each month.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org