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Interview with Roger Maloney founder of Ufront Media Insights

 

 

Ufront Media- What inspired you to start Ufront Media?
 

Roger-What inspired me to create Ufront Media is that wanted to showcase, interview and promote the all the new leaders within the media industry and put our their stories in front. I noticed for that new black content creators was getting much exposure and if your not a black celebrity you wont get attention. Ufront Media Insights mission is to be the TV GUIDE for content creators of color.  Second, I wanted to interview more people of color that are filmmakers, content creators, innovators in new technologies, education and much more because I noticed that many of them could not get press coverage until they reached the big celebrity status so I wanted to interview and highlight new people on they way to the top of their respected industries.

Third, what I realized is I started doing and more interviews and I would get calls from Public Relations firms and they wanted me to interview their clients who were white guys who ran large to midsize technology, media, and Advertising companies. This gave me the ability to learn and see the difference between how they run their companies, how they got funding, and how these companies think strategically about launching their products in the marketplace.

Ufront Media- Tell us about your background?

Roger- My background is very interesting because I am 45 years old black male of Carrbean decent born and raised in Brooklyn New York. From an early age my parents instilled in me an awareness of the importance of Education. As immigrants from the island of Barbados my parents viewed education. As immigrants from the island of Barbados my parents viewed education as the primary vehicle for accessing the opportunists available in thier new country. For many years I have had an interest in the role of media and technolgy as a galivanting force in society. Recent advance in Technology offer us unlimited possiblities for providing black people from every facets of life access to knowledge. My inital interest led me to pursue a BA in television and media that completed in 1997 at Brooklyn College. In years that followed from me working at various media companies and I witneessed firsthand the power of media to influence the trends and taste of targeted communities. Working for Black Entertainment Television (BET) and MTV networks also exposed m to some of the negative aspects of the industry. All often when money is the bottom line the integrity of the content suffers. I began to think reflect on the ways in which media might be used for educational and entreprenuer goals rather than simply entertainment.

I delevleoped and conducted bi weekly media literacy workshops for over 35 black and latino young adults. I also conducted these Media literacy workshops into the various schools in the Board of Education and Cuny Colleges within the New York City area. These workshops were desgned to help students especially Black and Lationo students understand the role of media in thier lives and how to become informed consumers and how to obtain

Ufront Media - While working withing the media industry did you ever experience racism?am

UFront Media- What are some of your thoughts about some of the big social news topics that has been affecting the entertainment industry?

Roger- Great Question, I want to share my thoughts about the need for black people to start creating their own media companies even more because for to long black content has always been the enginge that drives many streaming platoforms and cable networks to sucessfull profits and large audiences. The worst part that happens is that after that streaming service or cable networks becomes successfull some of these media companies start cancelling the african american shows. I do see alot of change with that due to the terrible event that happened with the George Floyd murder.

I have noticed that alot of tech companies and media companies started to put all here support around Black organiztions and putting black cerntered films and content at the forefront on their platforms.

Roger- I read the statement by Sean diddy Combs about his deal with Comcast and how pissed off about his deal and how Comcast was not marketing the Revolt channel in some markets and setting them up to fail. This is what Sean Combs said bout his deal with Comcast. “The start we received from Comcast, which was a condition of the United States government approval for Comcast to acquire NBCUniversal, was important, but it is not the level of support needed to build a successful African American owned network. Not even close,” Combs’ statement reads. “Since that launch our relationship has not grown, and REVOLT is still not carried by Comcast in the most affordable packages nor is REVOLT available in all of the markets that would enable us to serve our target audience."

Combs continued, “Comcast spends billions of dollars on content networks every year, but just a few million go to African American owned networks like REVOLT. That is unacceptable. Supporting diversity and economic inclusion requires a real partnership. The only way Black owned networks grow and thrive is with meaningful and consistent economic support. Otherwise they are set up to fail. REVOLT has never been in a position to truly compete on a fair playing field because it has not received the economic and distribution support necessary for real economic inclusion. Our relationship with Comcast is the illusion of economic inclusion By SEAN COMBS. So based on what Mr. Combs stated with the lack of support fom Comcast I felt that Black people need to start disturubtion channels to funded more black on media channels..

Roger- Another person that I admired is Paula Madison. She was the NBCU team leader who worked on and negotiated the MOU with the African American civil rights leaders she said the launch of these channels would not help them achieve success in business,” Madison wrote. “Indeed, as an owner of The Africa Channel, she recused herself from any Comcast-TAC discussions but she said she knew from experience that without the key components of a guaranteed number of subscribers and revenue, running a profitable cable network would be very problematic. I shared these concerns with Comcast — that the African American networks would be positioned to fail — and Comcast made it clear that it was only committed to launching these networks, and not giving them the necessary distribution and economic support to succeed. Period.”

After reading this news story about the lack of support of these major cable networks that are founded by Black Entreprenuers and the lack of support of subscibers or revenue support from Comcast. it made me think that as the number one consumers media of content it is time that black content creators need to start thinking about ways we can disturbute, create and montizes our own media platforms without the help of white owened MSO. I feel as a solution to this problem I look at what Roland Martin as created with ROLAND MARTIN UNFILTERED. Roland Martin's news show was cancelled by TV ONE but that did not stop him he just figured out a way to create his own digtial platform which he owns and operates himself. He nows has the number digital news show on all social media platforms which is amazing to me and is a road map to succes for black media entreprenuers.

Roger - The next option for people of color within entertainment is to start thinking about creating our media ecosystems.

Media and the way it is consumed is changing so rapidly that it can be overwhelming. It is a challenge both as a consumer and a professional to keep up not only with the rush of information, but the constantly changing platforms, channels and technology associated with media today.

There are two general ways that an ecosystem view of media is practical.

For one, it helps individuals personally navigate and comprehend the media they use. Secondly, professionals — particularly in communications fields like public relations, advertising and marketing — can use an ecosystem model to conceive of where there audience is and how they use media. This will in turn affect how they craft messages and what type of media plan or campaign they construct.

That’s why social media platforms have worked to change their interfaces and peripheral products to keep users from jumping to other environments.

Google, for example, nicely integrates Google+ with all other Google products under its “one password, all of Google” slogan.

Facebook’s graph search and many of its own apps are ways to encourage users to stay there. Online portal Yahoo! recently purchased blog site Tumblr to add more younger users, who are fond of Tumblr, to the Yahoo! ecosystem.

Ecosystems also happen with hardware and devices. Apple has had phenomenal success by creating products and software that are well integrated, so users can synchronize content on multiple devices, such as laptop, tablet and phone.

The latest wave of ecosystem change is happening in television, with conventional TV series viewership on network and cable declining in double digits.

Now “channels” are appearing on everything from YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and Xbox. These alternative outlets are not just re-broadcasting old shows, but offering original content.

Some of this content will be device specific, as in the case of Xbox.

Of course, everyone must consider that even with media companies trying to own and control many parts of an ecosystem, in the form of what economists call vertical integration, there is still a lot of flow between ecosystem.

This usually happens in the form of sharing content and the social nature of modern media.

Much online content offers users the option to share an article or video or other content on multiple social platforms. This could be in the form of sharing a blog post or website article to a social platform, an Instagram or Pinterest photo to Twitter and Facebook updates or any content to a social bookmarking site, such as Delicious or Reddit.

Professional communicators need to encourage social sharing by their audiences and participate in this concept themselves to engage people in multiple media environments.

Mass audiences are rarely built in one channel, they need to be aggregated across ecosystem borders.

The elements we need to create our own media Ecosystem is the following;

1 We need to own more venture capital companies to fund more film, TV and webispodes projects created by people of color.

2. We need to own more advertising companies so that we can have brands that will do more integrated brand sponsorships in content created by people of color.

3.We need to create more social media platforms so that we can help promote and build digital audiences around our own content.

4. We need more black owned technology companies so that we can digitally connect to audiences more directly like what the bitcoin technology is starting to do in the financial world with Bitcon.

5. We still need more Black Owned Media Companies so that we don't fall in the trap of traditional black owned media companies have struggled for years to adapt to a digital world, but the pressure on black-owned media has been even more acute. Many are smaller and lack the financial resources to compete in an increasingly consolidated media landscape. Advertisers have turned away from black-oriented media, owners say, under the belief that they can now reach minorities in other ways.

6. We need more black owned Comic book companies that creates super hero of color and make sure that kids are exposed to them. We all know the when I was kid playing with toys like HE MAN and the Master of the Universe, Transformers, GI Joe and Voltron and collecting comic books and the experience of going to the comic book store and flash forward to becoming an adult see all these toy and comic book characters come to life on a large movie screens is so exciting and amazing to behold.

Ufront Media- Who are some of the media company's you admire and why?

Roger- The media company's that I admire the most is Disney because the company has done a great job to staying innovative with all the Disney properties they created such the parks, movies and products and when the Disney Company purchased PIXAR, Marvel, and Lucus Films under the leadership of Bob Iger all of those companies all made a strong impact financial for the Disney and they continue to create powerful stories and but they all stay true to their strong foundations. One of my favorite media companies is Marvel Studios because Marvel figured out their winning formula by starting their Marvel Cinematic universe with IRON MAN, Captain America, Thor and then the Avengers which were all connected and they all made alot of money. These films helped Marvel Studios become the most powerful movie studios in Hollywood for super hero content. Marvel Studios winning formula of creating a Cinematic Universe is so innovative that other studios are looking to follow Marvel Studios model to create their own Cinematic Universes and this success has helped increase the sale of the Marvel Comics books to increase their readership. So Marvel is winning because they stayed faithful to who their are as a brand and that is model for success I want to have with Ufront Media.

Ufront Media- Describe one the biggest media executives you interviewed?

Roger- I had an opportunity during Advertising week to attend a panel called “The Adolescence of Content Marketing” with the guest speaker Mr. Jeffery Katzenberg CEO Dream Works Animation. Here is a taste of what we talked about in my interview with him below:

Mr Katzenberg said “Back in the 1950s when TV came along, it filled these gaps in the day that exist in our lives and whether those gaps were the free time people had before work or after coming home from work but before dinner, or some other time. That was the goal what early television did for our society.”

On the topic of Digital Media and Technology today-

As people continue to watch a lot of TV, he said, but with the arrival of new digital platforms, it’s opened up new “gaps” during which people are looking for something to do or watch. “Think of these [gaps] as the waiting time in our lives. There is an amazing amount of in-between time in which we find ourselves waiting — waiting at a bus stop, or for a train, or for a seat at a restaurant,” said Katzenberg. “What these devices have done is allowed us to fill that space. It started with texts and social media and casual gaming.

On the Topic of Content-

Jeffrey talked about his new partnership with Awesomeness TV a top YouTube Channel and the Creator Mr. Brain Robbins. He said that Brian is an amazing storyteller and he is producing high quality content and short form entertainment both in high quality production value and storytelling said Mr. Katzenberg. He said“Awesomeness TV will be the leader in tween girls programming and they plan to launch more channels targeting boys, kids and moms and these channels will be bigger than the Disney, Nickelodeon, and the Cartoon Network put together and he is very excited about this.”

My One Question:

Mr. Katzenberg talked about what inspired him and what the secret to his success was and he said “Always do what you love and try to go the extra mile in life, with your family, and your career. Second always go with your gut and your idea because when your idea is fresh and new it won’t make sense to engage social media with your first idea it too new but do engage and get feedback when you have an audience then you can get their feedback.”

After he answered the moderator open up the floor for questions and nobody wanted to ask Mr Katzenberg a question, so the moderator Michael Kassan then said this will be a great opportunity for anyone to ask Mr. Katzenberg a question and interview him so I raised my hand and the mic came over to me because I had one shot to ask a great question. So my question to him was as follows; Hi Mr. Katzenberg, My name is Roger Maloney of Ufront Media insights and my ONE question is that you stated that everyone should ask themselveswhat is the most beautiful thing to them? So when you find it? How do you build on that beautiful thing you thought about whether it be Travelling, Art or Music?

Then he turn to me and said what is the most beautiful thing to him is seeing and hearing kids laugh and he used that to find his passion and to build on what he is today. He continued to talk about how his former boss Michael Eisner called him in his office and took him to the window after they finished a meeting and pointed at a building and Michael Eisner asked “Do you know what they do in that building? Mr Katzenberg said NO and then Michael Eisner turn to Mr. Katzenberg and said Now it is your problem. Do something with it. Mr Katzenberg told the audience he didn’t have any experience in animation but he knew a good story when he heard it. He said that he never knew that his love for children laughing would lead him to run a animation studio that was created by Walt Disney himself. He also stated that instead of finding your passion you should build on your talentbecause that will lead you into your dream job and career. I walked up to Mr. Katzenberg and I thank him for give me the opportunity to ask the ONE that nobody wanted to ask him. He smiled and thanked me for being bold.

Ufront Media - What are you most grateful for in you life?

Roger - I am very grateful for my wife Monti because we have been marrrie dfor 18 years now and and it has been the best decision i made to marry her we have been though AVengers Infinity War like tough times but some how Jesus has kept us moving forward. The second thing I am very gratefull for is my three kids cause they are so talented and very smart in thier own way that they are going to good great things in the world I am very excited to know they will achieve ALL of their dreams in life.

Ufront Media- What are your plans for the Future for Ufront Media and yourself?

Roger- I️ want Ufront Media to be a news cable channel that creates the best one on one interviews featuring new entreprenurers from various industries.

I️ would love to one day have Ufront Media become a cable channel like Vice Media or Bloomberg but still have that digital media company edge like Buzzfeed or Vox Media.

As for my future plans ,I want to replicate everything I️ know in the next generation.

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