Meet the Media: Triangle on the Cheap’s Jody Mace
Jody Mace is the publisher of Triangle on the Cheap and Charlotte on the Cheap, local resources for freebies, discounts and deals.
How did you find yourself as a writer and blogger?
Right now my main work is publishing Triangle on the Cheap and Charlotte on the Cheap, which are regional event sites, but my beginning as a writer was actually as an essayist, which might be a little bit of an unusual way to start. I published a number of essays in print magazines and online journals, and also service pieces in magazines. In 2009, the market for magazines was tanking a bit. A friend of mine had started a website called Atlanta on the Cheap, so I got the idea to start my own website in Charlotte called Charlotte on the Cheap, figuring that I didn’t have anything to lose, and that my success wouldn’t be determined by magazines’ budgets. Charlotte on the Cheap seemed to strike a chord and became pretty successful. After my kids started college in the Triangle, I started spending more time up here and fell in love with this region too. That’s when I decided to start a similar website, Triangle on the Cheap.
How are your needs different from other mediums?
One thing that might be unusual about my work is the sheer quantity of information I’m dealing with. I write about so many events every week. I’m trying to answer the question, “What should I do this week?” for my readers (with the caveat that it shouldn’t cost much money). And, since I have so many different kinds of readers, I need to include a lot of events. It’s not unusual for me to write 10 posts a day for each website. With the quantity of data I’m dealing with, I’m really appreciative of websites that keep their pertinent information up to date and easy to find. I need to be able to get information very quickly.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
At heart I think I’m a matchmaker. I love to hear that someone read about an event I wrote about and went to a concert and has a new favorite band. Or that they found a new brewery that they love, or found new like-minded friends at a games night. My message through the websites is that you don’t need a lot of money to connect with your community. I might write about free tacos, but in my mind it’s really all about the connections that we form when we get out and do stuff.
What do you look for in a story?
On Triangle on the Cheap, it’s pretty simple. I’m looking for free or cheap events for people to do.
Without giving away any secrets, can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
I’m happy to give away all of my secrets! I’m very much interested in events from organizations that might fly a little bit under the radar. I’m interested in all events, but especially events that are being presented by people of color, people in under-served communities, grass-roots arts organizations, or anyone who might be overlooked in media coverage.
Who do you most look up to in the journalism industry?
I’m still writing essays, so I’m answering this question from that perspective. I’m crazy about Tommy Tomlinson. He’s flat-out the best writer that I know. It doesn’t matter what he’s writing about. Even if he’s writing about someone or something I don’t think I care about, his writing will grab me and make me understand that I do care.
If I am not reporting, I am…
I’m probably listening to music. I listen to a lot of live music and probably spend a little bit too much time creating Spotify playlists. I’ve merged my interests in music and writing by doing a series of interviews with songwriters about their songs and processes. For the last few years, Glide Magazine has been publishing my interviews in a column called “One Track Mind.”
What is your interview style like?
I don’t do interviews for Triangle on the Cheap, but going back to the songwriting interviews that I mentioned, my interviews are very much open-ended, and more like conversations than Q&As. I tell songwriters that if I ask a question that they don’t think has an interesting answer to answer a question I didn’t ask instead. Since my goal is to get to know what’s in the songwriter’s head, my questions are just jumping off points. Sometimes when we’re done, I realize that we went on way too long and I have a huge recording to transcribe, and I’m a little miserable. But those are the best interviews.
My favorite thing about the Triangle is…
Because of the universities, you see an intellectual component to events in the community, like philosophy cafés and astronomy talks at breweries. I’ve been exposed to so many musicians that I would never have encountered, for example, the “Music on the Porch” series by Center for the Study of the American South, at UNC. Even though I haven’t been to the concerts, when I’m writing them up I often listen to the bands that are performing. Right now I’m listening to a banjo player named Ryan Cavanaugh, who merges elements of jazz, folk and classical in his work. And I’ve listened to a band called Hindugrass that combines Indian music and bluegrass. There’s a lot of arts and culture to discover because of the rich intellectual environment in the Triangle.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, favorites, background, etc.)
I was born in England because my dad, who was in the Air Force, was stationed there, and I grew up in New Jersey. I’ve lived in North Carolina since 1989. I’ve got a daughter who graduated from UNC in 2016 and a son who’s studying physics, math and music there right now. So now there’s just me and my husband, and our two dogs, at home. You can find a lot of my not so “on the cheap” writing at jodymace.com.