Charles G. Hill has had an on-and-off relationship with Oklahoma since he first moved here as a child in 1959.
When he moved back in 1990 he still had dreams of making it big on the West Coast, but he decided to stay after watching the community rally together in the wake of the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing.
Hill, 59, now has a definite role in the community, providing written commentary about pop culture and state issues on his popular Dustbury Blog. His blog dates back to 1996 and is one of the oldest continuous blogs in Oklahoma City.
I spoke with him earlier this week about why he decided to stay in Oklahoma and what he thinks the blog adds to the daily lives of Oklahomans.
As for staying, he said he was working in an office in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 when he felt the windows rattle. Later that evening, he saw the dismantled federal building and heard about the extent of injuries.
After watching the community come together in the months after, he knew he couldn’t leave.
“People that can come back that strongly are people I want to be around,” he said.
In 1996, Hill became upset at certain marketing campaigns that seemed like they were cashing in on the bombing tragedy.
Frustrated, he turned to the Internet to vent about this and started regularly blogging. At the time, the blog was called “Chez Chaz,” a domain he registered for two years for $70.
Word spread around town about the blog, as well as Hill’s profile. By leaving comments on other blogs, he was able to attract an audience to his site.
In 1999, he changed the name of the blog to Dustbury.com, a made-up little town in Oklahoma described as “the dream home on the edge of nowhere.”
By that time, Hill’s blog had grown and recorded 6,400 actual visitors in the first three years. Now that number is reached within two weeks.
“If you do something every day for three years, it starts to get larger,” he said. “I started writing up some stuff of my own. At the time, I wasn’t turning it into a big production.”
That soon changed in the summer of 2000 when Hill began posting daily updates on his blog. He said no many competitors existed in Oklahoma City, so he was able to attract an even bigger readership.
He posts at least five blog updates per day and hasn’t missed a day since.
“I try to keep enough ideas in my head. If it looks like I’m going to miss a deadline, I can come up with something in a hurry,” Hill said. “I’m writing all the time. If I’m not doing this, I’m commenting somewhere else.”
In the last seven years, Hill said the blog has had 38,000 comments and is now being scraped by Google twice a day. People have actually noticed him in public and told him they read the content every day.
He continues to add new features to the blog, including fan fiction posts, and hopes it will continue to be a popular item in Oklahoma RSS feeds for years to come.
“I don’t know how much more growth it can take, but I figure I can keep doing this as long as I have to. And as long as I’m breathing, I figure I have to keep doing it. I can’t imagine not doing this.”