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Norwalk's HooplaHa Concentrates On Good News, Partners With Roker Media

The HooplaHa team, left to right: Laurence Sheinman, Missy Godfrey, and Rob Hess.
The HooplaHa team, left to right: Laurence Sheinman, Missy Godfrey, and Rob Hess. Photo Credit: Submitted

NORWALK, Conn. -- Wouldn't it be great to hear only GOOD news?

In 2012, Fairfield resident Rick Fernandes was thinking just that. He had a discussion with his wife, Lori, about whether or not it was "healthy" to watch the 11 p.m. news before heading to bed. Their collective thought? No.

Fernandes, a successful direct and digital marketing executive and entrepreneur, reached out to Rob Hess, a storytelling and production executive from the broadcast industry, to get his thoughts. The idea, explained Fernandes, was to create an alternative to the bad news we absorb every day. The idea captivated Hess and soon thereafter, the two decided to work together to provide an antidote.

HooplaHa--Only Good News , a multi-platform digital media created with the goal to inspire, motivate, lift you up, and make you smile, went live in 2012, followed by its release on YouTube in 2013. The company also works with syndicate partners such as Huffington Post, Upworthy, and DailyMotion across social media platforms to produce original videos and curate some of the best positive content from other leading publishers across the web. "Our evergreen library has generated well over 300 million views," said Hess, who is now the Chief Content Officer and lives in Wilton.

And now, the Norwalk-based business has formed a partnership with Al Roker’s Live Streaming Network (LSN), Roker Media. HooplaHa's Happy Hour programming will be part of the first slate of Live Stream Original programs, significantly broadening HooplaHa's exposure and reach, which will, explained Hess, "give us the ability to share more good news globally."

Live broadcasting starts in September with "JoyStory," a program that follows Danbury JoyRide cycling instructors and viral sensations Adam Keller and Jared Marinelli who captured the hearts of millions around the world with their flash mob, same-sex wedding proposal on Valentine's Day.

The video was viewed almost two million times in less than 24 hours on Facebook alone before it went viral. Other popular stories include Circle of Care, a nonprofit started by two Wilton moms after their children were diagnosed with cancer; Blake’s Snow Cone Shack, a story about a former prom king who is now the only business owner in Texas who has Down syndrome; and Rescue Dog Jake, who was rescued and adopted by a firefighter, and then became a “fireman,” saving others’ lives. "I could go on all day about the myriad of heartwarming, inspiring stories we have shared. I love them all," said Hess.

"It's so great to see that even without the benefit of real-time marketing tools or advertising budgets, we've had three viral videos in less than a year, which is a major accomplishment for a media company of any size,” said Chief Executive Officer Missy Godfrey of New Canaan. “This speaks volumes to the fact that we are really striking a chord with our audience."

Though the channel produces videos all over the world, they do, by virtue of living and working in Fairfield County, receive tremendous outreach from local organizations and individuals with inspiring stories. "It is gratifying to feel such affinity with the local community and, in turn, put the spotlight on this talent who are making such a positive impact," added Godfrey.

Another original video that has expanded into a new series, which HooplaHa is live streaming with Roker Media starting this fall, features New Canaan resident Virginia Mahoney and the B kind organization she and her sister JoJo founded to honor their father and his extraordinary, kind life. (See previous Daily Voice story HERE .) "They are igniting a movement across the country, B kind Today, inspiring everyone, especially youth, to participate in random acts of kindness every day," said Godfrey. "The first B kind episode features New Canaan resident Tony Goldwyn from ABC’s hit series, 'Scandal.'"

As for what's next, Laurence Sheinman, Executive Vice President of Business Development, said given the current social environment, and the growing desire for positive influence and news, the company is positioned for an expansive growth opportunity. "Clearly the partnership with Roker Media, and the move into the live stream universe, will enable HooplaHa to reach a larger audience of consumers and sponsors," he said. "Leading brands recognize the need and benefit of aligning themselves with content that is inclusive, community-minded, and uplifting."

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