Real Possibilities

AARPBefore I get into the meat of this week’s post, I first need to walk you through a bit of a preamble. Also, this week’s post is a continuance of last week’s post about Millennials vs. Baby Boomers, so if you missed it, you might want to read that first here before you read this week’s. Now please bear with me while I set-up the story for this week’s post.

I’ve been a card carrying member of AARP since I turned 50. When you hit this milestone birthday, don’t worry the folks at AARP will find you and solicit you to become a member.

When I became a member, AARP stood for the American Association of Retired Persons. But at age 50, I was a long way from actually retiring.

AARP was founded in 1958, so this organization could be classified a “Baby Boomer” just like me. And just like me, AARP has changed over the years. It officially changed its name from the American Association of Retired Persons to just AARP. AARP no longer requires members be retired but they must be at least 50 years of age.

In 2013, AARP launched its “Life Reimagined” program that sub-labeled the “RP” part of AARP to mean “Real Possibilities.” You see, AARP realizes that today people aren’t thinking about retiring when they hit 50 as much as they are thinking about tackling a second, or maybe a third career or endeavor.

At my university we started a wellness program in 2013. I was a charter member. Our university self-insures employees for healthcare and one of the ways to control costs is to incentivize employees to be as healthy as possible.

My university office is on the third floor of the Mass Media & Technology Hall building. We have three elevators in our building. I never use them. I prefer the stairs for two reasons: 1) they are much quicker than the elevator and 2) I use the stairs as a part of my wellness fitness program.

When a student says they’d like to meet with me for a moment in my office after class, I often find them a third of the way up the stairs when I reach the top floor (I take stairs two-steps at a time). They are also huffing and puffing. I just wait for them to catch up.

Now here’s the point of this week’s post…

Millennials Don’t Know What Age “Old” Is

Millennials are today’s media buyers. Millennials are today’s creative’s. Millennials are today’s planners. Heck, Millennials are probably the people running the place too. So if they have a warped concept of age, it is going to affect their advertising placement decisions.

Millennials now populate today’s media properties. They are the programmers, air talent, sales management, sales people and possibly the senior management.

I just met the director of Cox Digital Media in Las Vegas this past April and he is 28 years old.

Millennials Describe What Old Age Means to Them

Well AARP did some research into this question of what Millennials think “old” is. Then they asked them to show them what they thought “old” looks like. Then they introduced these same Millennials to some real “old” folks. Best of all, AARP recorded everything on video.

Watch the four-minute long video and then continue reading.

See the problem now?

If you are wondering why more radio stations aren’t programming to Baby Boomers, or if you are wondering why more media buyers aren’t buying the BIG MONEY demos, now you have a better understanding of the problem. They think you and I have one foot in grave, instead of one foot away from the summit of Mount Everest.

Corvette Buyers

I live a short distance away from the only place Chevrolet makes the Corvette in the world. The average age of a Corvette buyer is 59. Boomers and people even older are the people who are buying Corvettes. They are NOT the Geritol-set.

We Are Part of the Problem

We call them Millennials, Generation X’ers and Baby Boomers etc, but another way to look at these generations is as tribes. Seth Godin has written extensively about this concept.

Seth says that sooner or later tribes begin to exclude newcomers. So each of these groups operates in their own little silo because it is easier than to keep breaking in newbies and because it could threaten the existing power structure.


The consolidation of media hasn’t helped either. RIFs (Reduction In Force) mainly dismissed the highest priced employees (Boomers) and left an organization of low cost employees (Millennials) all in the pursuit of increasing Shareholder Value.

Recent studies have shown that private companies out-perform public companies. The reason, they operate on the Peter Drucker principle that the only valid purpose of an enterprise is to create a customer. Privately owned radio companies also out-perform their publicly traded radio company counterparts. Same reason.

Turns out delighting customers is simple, clear and measurable, moreover it is the genuine path to successfully operating any business.


The first question of a leader always is: “Who do we intend to be?”

NOT “What are we going to do?

BUT “Who do we intend to be?”

In other words, says Max De Pree of Herman Miller “What are we here for?”

Napoleon put it this way “Leaders are dealers in hope.”

Tom Peters says “The leader is the person who inspires us, sends us on quests to places we had never imagined.”

Think Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and so many more just like them.

To paraphrase the title of Lee Iacocca’s 2008 book:

“Where have all of the radio leaders gone?”


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales, Uncategorized

22 responses to “Real Possibilities

  1. As usual Dick another thoughtful edition. Thanks for the AARP video link. Really points out why some stupid decisions of today happen. The sad thing is that I bet when Madison Ave came up with the theory about the age beyond which someone isn’t a valuable consumer, it was a boomer who made that call. How things change!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank You Frank.

      And you’re probably right about one of us “Boomers” making that “bright” decision about what age one ceases to be a “valuable consumer.”

      Just had one reader tell me about his 80 year old friend that just took delivering of his new $98,000.00 Corvette.


  2. For the record: I will be 50 in November. The corvette is a classic, and not many will make a snap decision to buy this 80K car. True… boomers have tremendous disposable income, but millennials spend more in numbers, and are not hesitant to buy anything. Advertisers make big bucks because they buy stuff in volume. As I age, I don’t buy many new products, and what I see in many TV commercials really doesn’t appeal to me like it would of 20 or 30 years ago. Music in the 90’s to a millennial is old, the 80’s is really old, and before that ancient. Yes, there are some some products that cross demos (such as computers), but for the most part, those in the 50+ demo are set in their ways. It is a harsh reality (I’m just coming to terms with it) and will think about it when I play a Bruno Mars song on the air Monday morning. I realize that Bruno will be what Madonna is to my generation now in 30 years. The cycle continues. The 50+ shopper is a valuable consumer, but a 25 year old (especially women) are too. You don’t see too many Oldies/Classic hits stations in the top 5, and talk radio is sliding (and not because of party affiliation). “Welcome to the new age” – Imagine Dragons.


    • Rick Singel

      I disagree, Damon. I am 63 and I am ALWAYS on the prowl for the new and different. I cannot be the only one…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Actually Rick, when I was managing a Music of YOUR Life radio station back in the 80s I put a new technology store on the air. The owner told me the following: The older person, unlike the younger person, takes the attitude when new technology comes out of ‘I want it now, because I may not be around for the next “big thing,” but if I am, then I will buy that next.’ Whereas the young adult says something like ‘that’s really cool, but they’re coming out with something better in six months and I’m going to wait for that.’

        The beautiful thing is you reach an age where you no longer have to put things off. If you want it, you buy it.

        That wasn’t possible when you were young and raising a family. You may have wanted things but there were other priorities that always came first.

        Then you reach that age where it is YOUR time. So Rick, I would agree with you, I don’t think we are the only ones by a long shot.

        Plus, is there anything more fun than spoiling your grandkids?


      • Rick Singel

        Dick, I am really pleased that you and I see eye to eye. Forever I have said to my wife: WHY do they market so much to young people, the ones with no money! WE can buy things. I never got that. THANKS for the reassurance, Dick. And by the way, I can NEVER retire: Grandkids!!
        Nice to see that we are in the same boat!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Really good material here…but I don’t see many millennials in our radio stations. Maybe a couple – but recruiting that age for radio is tough at least here in a hi-tech market. The few we do have are wonderful talismans for how to remain relevant. However, it startles me when they don’t know who Paul McCartney is…:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Radio has for too long taken for granted a continuous in-flow of new listeners. That changed with the disruption of the smartphone.

      If radio doesn’t work with the next generation, there won’t be one for our business.

      You make a good point.

      In the meantime, why ignore the audience that IS radio oriented and still listening in large numbers. 93% of Americans are reached by radio making it the #1 Reach medium in the USA. Plus it still holds the #1 Frequency medium that it has enjoyed for decades.


    • Charlie Ochs

      I’m 71 and tried to retire at 64…it didn’t take. I knew it was time to seek employment when I found myself thinking of only counting the pedal steps while riding my bike around a new neighborhood and having “job envy” looking at those lucky guys hanging dry wall. I changed careers to financial planning and was the Rookie of the Year at 68! The millennials who joined the company when I did were livid. A little over a year ago Beasley saw the worth of a 70 year old guy with over 50 years of radio experience and I am a happy camper managing an AM radio station and being around some fantastic, energetic, and amazingly creative millennials and generation Ys . The brain is a muscle and needs exercise daily so excuse me while I go do some mental push-ups by creating a presentation. Then some jumping jacks by voicing a couple of spots.
      Live long and prosper.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charlie, you are one of my heroes. I remember seeing you in a video back when you were running the top radio stations in Washington, DC.

        Thank You for stopping by today, reading my blog and posting your personal experiences.

        Tell Beasley there’s a slightly younger version of you waiting to join the team and put his 40+ years of broadcast management experience to work for a company that values such things.

        Thank You



      • Charlie Ochs

        That video was lots of fun. Tom came out to the farm in Virginia at about 4:30 AM so he could catch me when I left the house at 5:00AM and followed me all day to both studio/office locations and then off to home at 7:00PM. Wow…I was crazy back then, now I leave the house at 6:00AM and try to leave the office at 6:00PM cutting out a couple of hours from the crazy 90s in DC. Dick, I could use a part time seller…make your own hours and earn 20% commission!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hold that thought Charlie.

        Thank You

        The way the budget cuts are happening here in KY, I may continue my migration further south.


      • Yes, that’s the one I saw. I guess it was at a Inside Radio Conference that it was shown.


      • Charlie Ochs

        You may be right. I think it was for a conference and was used to show how consolidation was creating a new process for managers. It was a really tough time trying to figure out how to make the people at each location feel like they were getting attention and were being treated fairly. Unfortunately, there were (and still are) people who feel the other stations are getting more love than theirs. The station I’m managing here in Tampa is one of the six I was managing when I retired so every day I walk by the office I had for 8 years I look in at Market Manager Kent Dunn with relief and tell myself, “That poor guy!”

        Liked by 1 person

      • So that video goes back to 1996 I’m a thinking. I remember the beautiful horse barn on your property and the spectacular facility you worked in WMZQ as I remember. It was the leading radio station and country music was king.


      • Charlie Ochs

        Yes, I think it was 1996 as consolidation was starting. I have been so fortunate to work with some great people at some wonderful radio stations. Mornings & Music Director at KNIX in the mid 70s as we were building what became one of the great ones (Larry Daniels PD and J. D. Freeman afternoon). Morning and later also PD at KIKK in Houston (Nick Trigony GM and Bill Figenshu PD and then National PD). GM at KCBQ San Diego and WQYK Tampa for Mel Karmazin in the 80s…one of the kindest people in the business, although he would dispute that. WQYK FM/AM, WJZW, WBZS in DC with Figenshu who was by then promoted to President of Viacom Radio and my PD Mac Daniels. Then back to Tampa and yet another Camelot group of stations with Karmazin and Fig and Dan Mason. Now I get to work with this wonderful company Beasley Media. Wow! When I started in 1962 at KLAD in Klamath Falls Oregon at 17 years old I never could have imagined the life trip I would take! All the radio stations, companies, a consulting company on the side…and… I even got to be an Army Sergeant in Vietnam as a combat correspondent in the 9th Infantry Division and came home with two Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts, and an Army Commendation Medal with “V” for valor…and a new attitude. It defined my “never give up and always charge forward” attitude. People in radio are some of the worst complainers, and the business breeds paranoia…but it’s the most rewarding career a person could have. CRAZY! George Hyde formerly of the RAB and a long-time friend is retired and teaching radio (among other subjects) at the University of South Florida. He has asked me to be a guest speaker this summer. I can’t wait to throw the hook out and help reel-in some bright young people for the future of the business. It must be fun for you to see the young folks discover the business in your classes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charlie, you worked with the who’s who of the radio business.

        What an amazing story. What an amazing life.

        Thank YOU for sharing it.

        Yes, it is inspiring to work with the next generation of broadcasters. You will enjoy, and be energized, when you spend time with them in George’s classes this summer.

        My summer highlights will be working with them back in New Jersey at the NJBA Convention in June and then directing the 2016 KBA WKU Radio Talent Institute (with Dan Vallie) in Kentucky in July.


      • Charlie Ochs

        Many years ago I was interviewing the old actor Chill Wills and I asked him how you know when you are at the top of your career. His answer was simple and obvious. “Son, you can only see the top of your career when you are no longer there.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Great question. Great answer.


      • Rick Singel

        Charlie, what a great message. A year or two ago, one of my professional journals had an editor’s column regarding retirement. I am not in radio, by the way. He outlined all of the details that need to be attended to financially to prepare for retirement. Very organized, very well done. Then, he began the final paragraph with giant letters, in bold: BUT DON”T RETIRE!! As you found, Charlie, so true!!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Charlie Ochs

    Rick, my dream is to be on the tee box of hole #7 at Cheval Golf & Country Club here in Tampa…I hit the drive of a lifetime and the three other guys in my foursome yell out, “Charlie, what a great drive!…Charlie…Charlie.” They turn around and I have had the big one and passed on to the course in the sky. I have told them to leave me there, call the clubhouse and tell them to come pick up the dead guy. Then they are to continue and play out my ball to the hole. THEN…go to # 7 and, in my honor, use nature’s latrine in the woods between the holes. Taking life and death too seriously can shorten a person’s life.

    Liked by 1 person

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