Editor’s note: RTP Beat is a regular feature on Thursdays.When freelancer Adam Cohen, 36, returned to the Triangle after seven years in San Francisco last year, he came armed with a business idea. In the Bay Area, he and other freelance designers and copywriters would pull together on an as-needed basis as a virtual agency to bid on and serve clients. The team of freelancers would vary depending on the client and its needs.

“We provided the same level of work as a large agency, but not at the same high price,” says Cohen, who has worked as an advertising art director at Howard, Merrell & Partners in Raleigh and as a senior copywriter at Ketchum Advertising in San Francisco. “The light went off. I knew talented freelancers here (in the Triangle) as well as all over the country.”

The fact that the economy was tanking was a boon to Cohen, because it provided a glut of freelancers and companies looking for less expensive ways to execute their advertising and design goals. Thus in December Cohen began building Distill (www.distillgroup.com), a consortium of senior advertising executives, designers and corporate communication consultants who have worked at some of the very best advertising, design and PR firms in the country. Today Distill has 25 freelancers from San Francisco to New York, Atlanta to Los Angeles, and the Triangle to Chicago. Consultants in Distill’s network have done work for Apple Computer, Amazon, Bank of America, Charles Schwab, Compaq, Levi’s, Microsoft and MTV. Distill does not charge freelancers in its network a commission or referral fee.

“We see ourselves positioned against the typical wastefulness of PR and advertising firms,” says Cohen. “They are the last bastions of corporate fat. Everyone else has been cut to the bone.”

Distill offers advertising, corporate communications and design services. It also can supplement marketing departments on a short-term or long-term basis. Its clients have included the American Movie Channel (AMC), Crispin Corp. and Planetweb.

From computer chips to fish and chips

FOX 50 aired the last episode of “The Triangle Technology Show” today and is replacing it with “N.C. Waterman,” a local fishing show. “The Triangle Technology Show,” created by RTP-TV, debuted in January and aired every Thursday from 5:30 to 6:00 A.M. The show, which featured local biotech and information technology companies, originally got its start as an Internet TV show at RTPTV.com.

“The cost for producing the show for TV became too expensive,” says Randall Gregg, founder of RTP-TV. “We’ll still be broadcasting the show online, because that’s where our audience and the money is.”

Two-year-old RTP-TV offers 12 different shows at its Web site, including “The Interview Show,” “The Biotech Show,” “Tech Central,” and “The Sig Radio Show.” New content is available at the site almost daily.

“We brought in our own replacement,” says Gregg, about N.C. Waterman. “Our time slot went from computer chips to fish and chips.”

Despite the show’s short-lived life on broadcast television, Gregg says it was a good experience. “FOX 50 was great to work with, and we hope to work with them in the future.

RTPTV.com has plans to launch in July a new biotech show covering national companies and trends.

Seeking winning startups and entrepreneurs

The Council for Entrepreneurial Development is seeking nominations for its 17th annual Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards ceremony. The awards are designed to honor outstanding entrepreneurs and members of the CED community for their achievements throughout the year. Nominations will be accepted through June 4 at the CED’s Web site.

The CED is accepting nominations in five categories: entrepreneurial excellence, outstanding service to entrepreneurs, innovation/technology/product of the year, spinout of the year, and startup of the year.

The awards ceremony is scheduled for August 8 at the RBC Center in Raleigh.

What do you see on the tech horizon? A ray of sunshine, a thunderbolt or rain shower clouds? E-mail Cal at: cal@localtechwire.com.