The barbershop can be a tremendous information hub. It’s a place where people can gather and have their voices heard and their opinions validated. It’s a place to pontificate and to debate and sometimes just to listen. Thanks to the Internet and JP Hair Design, part of that barbershop experience is now being streamed right into your home or to your mobile device.
“Behind the Chair” offers a new platform for outreach in education and awareness to members of the Madison community. It is the brainchild of Jeff Patterson, owner of JP Hair Design. “We have so many experts that come into the shop — whether it’s a doctor, a lawyer, a financial advisor, insurance agent, business owner, etc.,” Patterson tells The Madison Times. “While they are at the shop and we’re behind the chair, we get to hear whatever they are talking about when it comes to their specialty area or expertise. We learn quite a bit.”
Behind The Chair is a chance for Patterson to pass on that knowledge. The first show was aired in November of last year and it has been a hit in the community so far. “I felt like I could take the knowledge that we gained in the shop and put it on a bigger platform,” Patterson says. “This is a community outreach talk show and the topics that we cover consist of community events and activities, academics and athletics, spiritual and religious life, and then we have financial literacy and legal issues, insurance, politics, and entertainment.
“We have a great network here at the barbershop — we got the hook up,” Patterson adds. “I figured that this was a way that I could use that network to connect with the community. I can give all the people in the community the same information and same expertise that I hear at work every day.”
Behind The Chair guests have included — among many others — NBA basketball player Wesley Matthews; Catrina Sparkman, author and minister; Forest "Kipp" Thomas, head executive chef and owner of Kipp's Cuisine Catering; Ray Allen, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Financial Institutions; and Mahlon Mitchell, State President of the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin.
With the program, Patterson is filling the informational gaps that are all too often evident in the African American community. “I want to be able to give people good information that helps them make good decisions,” Patterson says.
Through Behind The Chair, local businesses are provided an opportunity to promote their products or services to a highly sought after and diverse marketing demographic from school-aged students to senior citizens. This supports the JP Hair Design mission to educate and empower the local community in a new and engaging way.
JP’s has a virtual studio where Patterson interviews his guests in front of a green screen. He then blasts the interviews out on youtube, Twitter, Facebook, e-mail chains. Soon, there are thousands of people learning about important issues. “The social media is the connection to this show ... all of the different kinds of social media tie into each other,” Patterson says. “We use everything that’s available. We’re shooting these shows right into people’s pockets — right into their phones, right where they are. You can be in the airport and get an alert and then check out one of our videos. Social media is huge for us.”
For Behind The Chair, social media provides the perfect format to engage clients on a continuous and personal basis.
“There are five people here [at work] but thousands of people get to hear it,” Patterson says.
Being a TV host is a brand-new endeavor for Patterson. It’s a job that he enjoys quite a bit.
“I’ve had no training on being a host, being on TV, or doing any of this,” Patterson smiles. “I just try to act like it’s just me and a person talking at a table. I have watched my first and second shows and compared to now and I have definitely seen improvement. I’ve learned what to do and what not to do. The community is great and I’ve been getting insight from people. I’ve been learning on the run how to do it.”
Behind The Chair currently runs about once every two weeks. “My goal is to do one a week,” Patterson says. “The production can be costly, so I’m working on getting underwriting and sponsors.
“I want to have it where people can go and see the shows and with each of the topics from community events, academics, spiritual, health and wellness, financial literacy — have editorial there for people to get information about the topics and about the interviewees,” he adds. “I want to make it more of a comprehensive outreach to educate people.”
Patterson’s goals are to see Behind The Chair get bigger and better and to run the interviews more frequently. He wants to start to reach out to high school students more to highlight their academics and athletics. And he wants to continue forging partnerships in the community and to continue to educate his viewers on diverse topics.
“When I first started the show, I received so many positive e-mails back to me saying how much they liked the show or how they thought it was a great concept or just thanking me for doing this for the community,” Patterson says. “It’s something that I enjoy and it’s a great way for me to communicate with the community. It’s kind of taken the place of my New Year’s Eve parties — which were a lot of work. This can take the place of that, though. I can bring people together with the show rather than spending a lot of money and time on that New Year’s Eve party. That’s only once a year. Behind The Chair is something that is ongoing throughout the year.”
For more information about Behind The Chair, visit www.jpbehindthechair.com