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Today on the Menu: Cheap? This Podcast’s For You


Today on the Menu we had Phil Villarreal, who has the funniest ideas about how to be cheap that we’ve heard in a long time. Example: say you want to save on your electricity bill &#151 turn down the heat and head to mom and dad’s place (or a friend/significant other’s).

All these tips and more are available in Villarreal’s book, ‘Secrets of a Stingy Scoundrel‘.

Not one to promote being a non-participatory member of society, Villarreal notes that some of his tricks probably won’t win you any friends. Like his recommendation for getting out of buying an expensive engagement ring. “Go to Wal-mart and buy a cubic zirconium ring for a few hundred bucks,” says Villarreal. “Then tell your fiancée that it belonged to your grandma.” OK, so that one’s a bit nefarious, but as long as she doesn’t get the thing appraised, you’re good.

Check out some of Villarreal’s other tips in today’s podcast. He is also a contributing editor at Consumerist and a reporter at the Arizona Daily Star.

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Today on the Menu: AOL’s Layoffs and the Conan-Leno Clash


After a mic check of sorts, GalleyCat‘s Jason Boog and our own Matt Van Hoven got this morning’s Menu underway, with guest Amanda Ernst, editor of FishbowlNY, sitting in.

As many of you know, it was a somewhat tumultuous last few days in the media landscape, with perhaps the biggest story of the day being AOL’s layoffs. The gang discussed what exactly went down, how this changes AOL’s working environment and what we can expect with its move towards becoming a content provider.

Of course, it’s hard to ignore the other big media story: no, not Kate Gosselin‘s new hairdo but the Leno/Conan/NBC drama. After a lengthy discussion on said topic, Amanda also delivered her media predictions for 2010, focusing on trends in eReaders, citizen journalism, and non-profit news publication.

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Today on the Menu: NBC Won’t Make Money From Olympics, But Not Due to Advertising


It was a tough weekend for NBC, which was caught by the ever-watching eye of the media on two fronts. First in the cross-hairs were the network’s many, many late night programs. The bottom line: Jay Leno‘s on at 11:35 pm now, but only for a half hour. Conan O’Brien is on at 12:05 am, because his contract maybe says ‘The Tonight Show’ can’t start after that. Jimmy Fallon‘s pushed back to 1:05 am and no one seems to care about Carson Daly. But he just signed a deal to get back to his radio roots, so no big whoop.

Every few years, NBC wows us with their coverage of the winter and summer Olympics, and 2010 is no different with the winter games in Vancouver. That’s cool. But NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol &#151 whose name sounds like a product males use to clean their man-parts &#151 said the network will lose money on this year’s games. But! But! But! Not due to a lack of advertising, says he, “‘We are on track to do the same numbers that we did in Torino and Salt Lake City games,’ Ebersol said. ‘Rights have gone up and this will be the first time in my doing these Olympics that NBC will lose money, but it’s not because of the ad sales.’”

Also mentioned: Sasha Grey‘s porny Peta ad, Ashley Greene‘s semi-nude Sobe ad, the first-ever exclusive Kindle distribution deal, and you should probably read this even though we didn’t talk about it.

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Today on the Menu: Two Hangovers and a Beard


Today on the Menu we spoke with AgencySpy’s own Kiran Aditham, who is in his spare time a writer for Fangoria, the horror film world’s AgencySpy. The 30 year old publication has been a home of sorts for Aditham, who has a “healthy” obsession with the genre. Listen as he explains why you should care so much about blood and guts.

Also, last night was AgencySpy’s first party of 2010, and as I write this some of the evening’s imbibables (not a word) are most definitely swishing around. Kiran is lost somewhere in New Jersey. Bottom line, today’s gonna be rough. Please hold.

ps. Kiran has a beard, but the picture is old.

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Today on the Menu: Terrible Terrorism Terrifies Terra Firma

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Today on the Menu we hosted guest Michael Calderone, intrepid Politico reporter and keeper of all things real. The conversation focused on terrible terrorisms and their terrification of terra firma &#151 earth, that is, and everyone on it.

Calderone thinks the media did a great job making sure the terror story was back on top, with massive vacation-ending coverage from reporters of every bent. Not the vacations! Indeed, the days-off of exhausted reporters, anchors and bloggers everywhere were lost to a story of a man whose underwear would have ignited had only his balls not got in the way (that’s not what really happened, but wouldn’t it be funny if it did?).

Both right and left came together on this, the conservatives (well, Republicans really) taking a decidedly stronger “Obama is going to get us all killed” swing at the news. Libs, on the other (hairier-palmed left) hand lauded him for well, golfing.

We’re as sick as you are of waiting in longer-than-Lexington-Steele’s-Yonson lines at the airport, so the sooner this goes away the better. Frankly, we shouldn’t blame airlines, TSA, terrorists for flight-related inconveniences. So who then? Wolfe-fucking-Blitzer (and all other less-awesomely named broadcast news people) for their “I hope this sells more ad space” type of coverage (dear buyers of AgencySpy ad space, see how witty we are? please pay us yer moneys).

Next time there’s a need to head to the fly-overs, this half-rate blogger is driving &#151 a rental car of all things &#151 and probably listening to farty NPR all the way. Ira Glass and I are long overdue for a chit chat.

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Today on the Menu: 15 Minutes on Religion


This morning we speak with Kim Lawton, Managing Editor/Correspondent for PBS’ ‘Religion & Ethics Newsweekly’, the 30-minute weekly program covers the biggest, boldest topics on this normally sensitive subject. Here Lawton reveals the stories that have our nation and world up in arms.

Lawton has covered the beat for 20 years, and says that although the religion beat is usually among the first cut from the newsroom in tough times, it’s one of the most nuanced issues.

And it certainly rings true for Americans, who are more likely than not to have had some part of their lives influenced by one faith or another.

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Today on the Menu: The Copenhagen Boycott and More Tiger


With Matt Van Hoven toiling somewhere in the Midwest, PR Newser editor Joe Ciarallo filled in as co-host with GalleyCat‘s Jason Boog on ye olde Monday morning menu. The lads talked PR disasters including the boycott in Copenhagen and of course a certain golfer named Tiger.

If that wasn’t enough, the boys easily filled in the rest of the 15-minute Menu with their thoughts on Ashley Dupre‘s new advice column and a Google-created smartphone that could create waves in the publishing world.

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Today on the Menu: Lit. Marketing Now in Hands of Agents


Today’s guests were literary agents Karen Gantz and Dr. Joyce Starr. Both women are published authors and mavens in the literary sense, having spent most of their careers making deals and organizing events that further the pursuit of the written word. And now they’re marketers, too.

As the industry changes so do the offerings of your major publishing houses. What once was a business of large up-front sums (for the author, his/her marketing needs, et al) is now a print-on-demand, electronic penny stamp. In other words, less cash up front to make a book that best seller. So Gantz and Starr have been playing jazz, offering new services to help writers overcome today’s problem areas.

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Today on the Menu: Google’s New Clothes, Tiger Needs Balm, Comcast Buys NBCUni for TV Domination


Our guest on the Menu today was Mediaite TV Editor Steve Krakauer, the kindly gent who created our podcast before heading off to Dan Abrams‘ frappy (scrappy + fun) news site. Krakauer, a former NBC page, is well versed in the TV business &#151 which made him a perfect candidate to explain:

&#151 Comcast’s purchase of NBCUniversal, which he says is a good thing for the ailing network (and its strong cable properties).

&#151 Google’s move to allow content providers to block you from seeing their sites gratis, something Krakauer and co-host Jason Boog say could be good for niche sites like, for example, AgencySpy. Why? We won’t have to compete with the Wall Street Journal for Google ranking on breaking news.

&#151 Tiger Tiger Woods y’all.

&#151 Chris Matthews‘ remarks regarding the “enemy camp” also known as “West Point.”

Today on the Menu: PCMag Exec. Editor Dan Costa Talks FTC Guidelines, Future of Digital Readers


Today our guest is Dan Costa, Executive Editor at PCMag, where he oversees product reviews &#151 making him a perfect candidate to discuss the holiday season’s biggest tech items and those pesky FTC guidelines.

When asked about the lifeline of digital readers like Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Nobel’s Nook, Costa was of the opinion that their lives will not be long. A tablet fan, Costa agrees that these products lack multi-multi-media functionality that’s now available in similarly priced Netbooks (for example). Though ereaders focus on the reading experience, the cost margin makes them a product with little hope of full market integration. With smart phones, netbooks and digital readers all similarly priced, it’s no surprise that the PCMag editor takes this stance. Nonetheless, his publication will provide buying guides for all these goods this holiday season.

And to get the skinny on what’s worth buying, Costa is charged with running PCMag Labs, the in-house testing department where computers, phones et al are put through their paces. When a product comes in, says Costa, it’s bagged and tagged with a serial number and carefully tracked throughout its time at the magazine. This and a strict set of guidelines prevent these “freebies” from going home with reporters, and according to Costa the products are always sent back to their manufacturers.

Costa says that because his publication is on the up and up, the FTC guidelines regarding disclosure don’t really apply. They’re meant more for bloggers working independently, he says. Nonetheless PCMag will publish their internal guidelines so everyone can see where the publication stands.

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