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Jonathan Moore

Jonathan Moore Enjoys Sunsets, Creates a Rowdy Orbit

“Rowdy Orbit is minority-owned, high-tech and young,” says owner Jonathan Moore. “We are the polar opposite of what people think they know about West Virginia.

“And I like to tell them that West Virginia is unexpected, too!”

Rowdy Orbit

Started in 2009, Rowdy Orbit is an online network that airs more than 140 Web shows, including 28 episodic series -- everything from a Hispanic horror show called “Lockout” to "Soul Delicious," the soul food cooking show, and a series about a black female superhero called, “Chick.” Each episode runs about two to five minutes. Moore’s target audience is African-American, Asian and Hispanic viewers who are looking for something fresh, outside of the mainstream media.

"We’re focusing on a multicultural demographic. We look to bring out the strategic side of that. We look for how do we deliver a quality video product, what’s the offline action and where do we discover the win-win. How do we use the various channels online to drive conversation and engagement? How do we make people 'give a damn?' We want them to care about what we want them to do, seeking common ground to have a conversation on.

"The more we get niche – the better results we get," he explained.

As a long-time advertising copywriter, Moore grew frustrated that the only time people of color were featured by the media was during ethnic heritage month. “Many film directors didn’t have the chance to push the envelope,” Moore said. He wanted to tap into this community’s talent.

“People want to been seen and heard. They want an unfiltered process where they have more control over the product that they’re creating. Rowdy Orbit promotes the shows and helps the artists reach new markets that they have a hard time penetrating and deliver great original shows to a thirsty, traditionally under-served audience."

Moore explained the meaning behind his company's name: “Rowdy” represents the shakeup of the media product, which is the online video and “Orbit” is the well-rounded strategic thought process to support the end product and get results. 

"Online, there are no gatekeepers. There are no levels of approval. You come up with an idea, you put your production together, you go shoot it and you put it on the Net. It’s instant feedback. Either you stay your course or you make corrections. The removal of the gatekeeper allows people to express themselves as they see fit."

Finding a Roadmap, Direction

Although initially focused on recruiting content and targeted promotion to blogs, Rowdy Orbit’s business model emphasizes hypersyndication, which is more targeted -- "narrow-casting" as opposed to broadcasting. "It allows you to build a relationship and tap into the trust factor with the blogger and the blog community. If you tap into the vibe of the blog – then you’re able to find commonality between the bloggers of interest. It’s all about collaboration and partnership and building on top of what people have already built."

Moore has seen some initial success. His company was featured on influential African American blog, The Root, and in the Washington Post, building Rowdy Orbit’s credibility in the community.

Moore also said the small business development center in Martinsburg was among the first people he called to help grow his business. The counselors helped him with business plans, time management training and making local contacts. 

"If you connect to the right people, there’s a lot of collaboration here. The SBDC people challenge me – they inspire me and they help me see opportunities. It has been invaluable. It all started with Christina Lundberg, the center manager. I can’t give them enough credit.

“When you move to a new state, you need someone to help you find a roadmap and point you in the right direction,” he said.

Calling himself the CEO -- the "Chief of Everything" officer -- Moore said he liked that Rowdy Orbit is small, nimble and effective. 

"We reach into our database of professionals that produce and direct online video and contract that right people for each job, so we don't need a large full-time staff," he said.

Moore's not sure his company will be around in 20 years... or even five years. And that's OK. It will probably evolve into something else as the medium evolves.

“There is no business standard; so, you have to monitor the trends and adapt, and focus on what works best for your particular business. It requires patience. Sometimes you need to shift gears in mid-motion.

"We’re always going to be in the online content game. The one factor that will remain true is that storytelling will be timeless. As online evolves we’ll have to redefine what we do and who we are. We have to be ahead of the game to remain relevant."

Enjoying the Sunsets

Moore grew up in Baltimore, but went to school in Utah. Later, when he was married and living Baltimore, he and his wife were looking for an affordable home and someone suggested West Virginia. Although they hadn’t been to the state, they spent two days here and found a house they loved.

“I knew that if I was ever going to start my business that this move would be the path.” Moore said. “It was a leap of faith. But you have a better chance of being successful in a smaller market than a larger one. It cost you less to enter the market and compete. With the Web we can collaborate virtually, but we can broadcast nationally or internationally.”

Moore said he sees how greater access to technology is changing the state. “We wanted to fit in with the state and make an impact.”

Rowdy Orbit reached out to Shepherd University and hired an intern as one of its three employees. Moore’s company also is working with the Contemporary Arts Theatre Festival in Shepherdstown and the University’s communications and film departments. In fact, one of the film classes is doing a group project that Rowdy Orbit will distribute.

Most of all, Moore says he enjoys the slower pace of life in West Virginia.

“When you live in a big city, life is so rushed. And those little moments that you can sit back and reflect are gone. Here, you work hard to make things happen. But I can still get to know my neighbors and have neighborly conversations.

“I’ve already started recruiting people from Baltimore to move here,” he said. “First, I tell them it’s all about the low cost of living. But, a lot of my friends are married with kids; so, then I tell them that in West Virginia, we let our kids play down the street and don’t have to worry about their safety.”

Moore said he also values the more balanced life he and his family have found. “Being in West Virginia helps a start-up from a cost perspective. But there are psychological advantages, too. We have rocking chairs on our porch. When I have friends who come to visit – they’ll sit on the porch. It’s peaceful and quiet, with a little wind blowing. Ten minutes later, they’re asleep. I love to let them nap on my porch – because, you just can’t do that in Baltimore!” 

Moore has gotten his whole family to eat healthier by buying local foods. He loves shopping at Orr’s Farm Market, Martinsburg.

“When I go back to Baltimore, I take farmers market vegetables and fruits to them. I never knew an apple could taste like this in my life before I came here. When the peaches come out, I’m there. Whatever is in season I’m the first one in line! 

"The air is cleaner, the food is fresher, stars are brighter and the people wave to you.” He laughed.

When asked what he likes most about living here – Moore doesn’t hesitate: the sunsets! “Ah! The sunsets are absolutely amazing. I have never seen pinks, oranges and yellows collide like that. I pull over my car to the side of the road, sit on the roof and just watch.

“It’s those little moments that help me reflect. It’s West Virginia’s way of saying, ‘Hey, slow down for a moment and enjoy!’ And I’m stopped dead in my tracks.” 

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