JPFreek Magazine

The Faces of Jeep interview with Eric Walton, Editor-in-Chief, Publisher & Owner of JPFreek Adventure Magazine

 

FOJ-[Natasha]: “Why did you choose Jeep? When did your passion for Jeep begin?”

Eric: “Jeep chose me. Seriously, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love Jeep. I blame HotWheels.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “How long have you been wheeling?”

Eric: “My father was a great dad, but couldn’t program a VCR. I didn’t grow up wrenching or wheeling and it wasn’t until I got out of college and buy my own Jeep that I could get into it. It’s a very long story but my first time off-road in a Jeep was in Palmer, Alaska on the first long test drive of my 1984 Alaskan Postal Scrambler. I flew to Alaska and bought it not running in Anchorage, fixed it up over a week, made sure it worked (the test drive to visit a friend in Palmer,) packed it full of spare parts, tools and gear and drove it 5000 miles back across the country to my home in NC.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “What type of wheeling is your favorite?”

Eric: “I love trails and rocks, but my big thing is about driving my Jeeps to the trails (often times hundreds or thousands of miles), wheeling and driving them back home. I’m not one for trailering, all my Jeeps are built as weekend warriors that can go down the highway at 75 just as easily as crawl trails. I’ve driven round-trip from MI to Moab, TN, AL, SD and more to wheel. I think that’s what it’s all about.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “How many Jeeps have you owed?”

Eric: “Owed? Only two that we financed new 😉 Owned? If we’re allowing non-running parts Jeeps -10, 7 if counting only running.”

Natasha: “What is your favorite model of Jeep?”

Eric: “Since they were what got me into Jeeping as a kid and since one was my first Jeep, the CJs have my heart. They’re also the true root of the brand and regardless what anyone says for/against other models, that’s something that simply can’t be disputed.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “How did JPFreek Adventure Magazine begin?”

Eric: “Two Jeep enthusiast friends started the magazine in 2006 as a creative outlet for their Jeep passion and adventures. I love that it’s not just about the Jeeps, but the things you use the Jeep to get out into the world to do.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “When and how did you first get involved in JPFreek Adventure Magazine?”

Eric: “I took over the magazine in the summer of 2014 and the Fall 2014 issue was the first in my tenure. It’s been quite the ride ever since and even though there’s been a lot of challenges; I’ve loved every minute and am very proud of what we’ve built!”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “Can you tell us a bit about JPFreek Magazine and what it features?”

Eric: “The way I explain JPFreek Adventure Magazine is that we’re all about what you do “To, with and in your Jeep.” Meaning that we love tech and mods that you do TO your Jeep, but we’re also about the destinations where people go and activities people enjoy WITH their Jeeps and all the adventures people have IN their Jeeps (and not just wheeling/mudding/rock crawling.) We love sharing how typical Jeep people use their Jeeps, enjoy their Jeeps and modify their Jeeps. We aren’t into hardcore off-road specific fabrication projects or throwing tens of thousands of dollars at a Jeep to turn it into a crawling monster, that kind of stuff is covered well by other publications and goes against my “weekend warrior” mentality. We can appreciate great fab work and love looking at huge, high-dollar builds, but we focus on what we call the “center” of the Jeep modification world. People trying out their first mods and people building a Jeep to drive to work all week and have fun in on the weekends.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “What is your favorite part about running the magazine?”

Eric: “I have two things that I love the most,”

1) “When I took over JPFreek, my daughter was 8 and I felt that things had reached a point with the objectification/representation of women in mainstream off-road media that caused me to hide my magazines from her. I thought that was just sad. I knew scores of women off-roaders who could wheel with any guy, wrench on their own rigs and actively helped grow the hobby and I wasn’t seeing that. My background is marketing and I fully understand the idea of playing to your target audience, but I couldn’t help but think that it was a catch-22. SEMA booth workers and half-naked women in ads was not the best of what this industry had to offer and shouldn’t be all that was seen.” So, I resolved that anything that I published in JPFreek Adventure Magazine or on JPFreek.com would be readable/viewable by my daughter at age 8 and I’ve lived up to that. The response we’ve gotten on that approach has been fantastic and it makes me proud of what we’ve done by representing women as the active, engaged and capable Freeks that they are.”

2) “I felt that the off-road media weren’t doing enough to promote responsible trail riding and use of our outdoor recreational areas. We have these MASSIVE magazines going out to hundreds of thousands of readers and there was a very small proportion of them dedicated to advertising, messaging and stories about Tread Lightly!, the Blue Ribbon Coalition and all of the other great organizations and efforts going on to help keep our off-road areas open. Furthermore, I thought that there was WAY too much active sharing of photos and video that explicitly showed irresponsible and possibly illegal off-roading. We have been shooting ourselves in the foot by providing the opposition ample evidence not only that these things are going on, but that it’s basically sanctioned by the mainstream off-road media on top of it. This is why we donate significant ad space in every issue to Tread Lightly! and now Blue Ribbon Coalition and give Tread Lightly! one spread of news in each issue of the magazine to highlight the great work their organization and wheelers around the country are doing to help improve the areas we all enjoy. I love being able to help spread the messages of these great organizations and it will always be a part of JPFreek’s mission.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “What are your future goals for the magazine?”

Eric: “JPFreek is free to read and always will be, we’re supported by advertising dollars only. So, obviously, we’re not in this for the money. We’re simply a group of Jeep lovers that want to share parts of the Jeep life that aren’t being well represented in the mainstream books. We also want to help preserve our hobby for future generations.”

“So what is my future goal? To be able to drive my Scrambler out to a lake in the woods on a network of state-run trails with my grandkids to go camping when I’m 80 — and read JPFreek stories to them.”

FOJ-[Natasha]: “Where can people find you to check out JPFreek Adventure Magazine?”

Eric: “The current issue is always available at http://currentissue.jpfreek.com and on our app in the Apple App Store (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/jpfreek-adventure-magazine/id421516535?mt=8).”Our blog is at http://www.jpfreek.com

Natasha: “It has been a pleasure hearing your Jeep journey and thank you Eric for sharing with us. We wish you and the JPfreek Adventure Magazine all the best in the future.”

Photo from Eric Walton, Questions asked by FOJ-Natasha Kokkinis & Answers by Eric Walton. Permission from sender to use this content

 

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