Radio’s BIG Opportunity

54I know that radio needs to be planning for the future and the future is not going to be like the past. However, to ignore the present makes no sense to me whatsoever. Here’s what I mean, take a look at this quote:

“Japan is selling more adult diapers than diapers for children. Think about that for a moment.” –Joseph Coughlin, founder of the AgeLab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Coughlin’s point is, that while Millennials may be getting all the buzz in today’s media and advertising world, that retailers must be on alert to the aging Baby Boomer population that have all the money. Coughlin recently addressed the International Council of Shopping Centers Conference telling the 4,000 attendees important facts they need to know in order to grow and prosper.

Coughlin advises that retailers would be better to focus on the aging generations than the younger ones.

Robbing Banks

Willie Sutton has been famously quoted as responding to a reporter’s question about why he robbed banks all his life as saying “because that’s where the money is.”

Well, if you’re in the retailing business or the media business, the money today is with the Boomers and it’s time to focus on them more than anyone has in the past.

Coughlin’s Research

The research I’m going to share was reported in the Tampa Bay Times and you can go to their website for more details about all of this.

Coughlin pointed out that fewer people today are having kids and the result of that reality is the over-60 folks will outnumber the little people aged 1 to 15 by 2047. What’s interesting, is that Coughlin points out this has never happened before.

But if you’re smart like Willie Sutton, you need to consider the fact that right now nearly 70 percent of all disposable income in the economy is controlled by Americans in the age 50 and over group. (50 is the age that AARP sends you your first invitation to become a member. I know that, because that’s when I became a member of AARP.)

College Towns #1 for Retirees

Coughlin also said that retirees are attracted to college towns. Many colleges offer low or no-cost tuition to seniors plus they have lots of educational and entertainment programs that are often free or at very low cost.

My university put on a production of Beauty & the Beast with all of the original Broadway show sets and costumes, but the actors were from the university theater department and the full orchestra was made up of teachers and students from the music program. I have been to many Broadway shows in New York City and I’m going to tell you it was as good as any of them I’ve seen and the cost to park for the show was free, the seat I had was front row center and the cost of my ticket was $5.00; try and beat that!

Corvette City

Bowling Green, Kentucky is the home of the Chevrolet Corvette. The average age of a Corvette owner is 59 years old. So you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Coughlin says that luxury products that are high-tech and high price are bought by senior citizens.

But it’s not just cars. It’s everything. Grocery stores, drugstores, health, beauty and fitness and more.

With this crowd what’s in high-demand is internet proof. It’s experiences they can’t get online.

Beautiful Music

This week a station group in Michigan announced a new format for WBZX in Big Rapids.  The new format is beautiful music with the station’s new branding: “Beautiful 104, as beautiful as Northern Michigan.”

One of my favorite stations and the one that gets voted #1 every year in the local newspaper as one of the “Best of Naples” is WAVV in Naples, Florida. Both the music and the ads are perfectly targeted to their audience. Even better, the station maintains a commercial load of only eight commercials per hour. Four times an hour they stop the music and play two sixty-second commercials and then return to their unique musical offering.

Senior Power Radio

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone. Ken Dychtwald wrote about this back when I first became a general manager of an Al Ham “Music of YOUR Life” radio station to be followed by managing a Bonneville Beautiful Music radio station in Atlantic City. The Age Wave clearly laid out the opportunities that would be coming.

Well, that day is here. Senior Power Radio is a true opportunity to leverage people who grew up on broadcast radio and will embrace any radio station that is focused on their needs.

It’s time for some smart broadcasters to make some money by focusing on the “interests, convenience and necessities” of the Baby Boomers; because we’re going to be around for a while.


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales, Uncategorized

11 responses to “Radio’s BIG Opportunity

  1. Dick the only way this can be accomplished is through Mom and Pop stores. Seniors not only have money they almost have everything else too so you’re going to convince them to replace some items or buy something they’ve never bought before. That takes a very different approach and regular commercials won’t work. Agencies are only after people who haven’t been branded yet so they’re not loyal to anything and unlike their parents need everything.
    When I was at WRMF we had a beautiful music station down the hall called WRLX so when a cruise buy came in for WRMF which I said would do much better on RLX. I was told that the cruise companies had all the seniors they needed now they wanted to attract young people. geo


    • I know this all very well having managed BOTH “Music of YOUR Life” and Bonneville Beautiful Music stations.

      But even in areas like cruises, there will be competition for business among seniors. I saw that with the casino industry that lived off of senior citizens.

      P&G just learned how jumping into digital/social/internet hasn’t delivered the ROI they had previously enjoyed via mass mediums like radio & TV.

      We are reaching a new tipping point in advertising and marketing with respect to reaching the consumers with the most disposable income.

      Old is the new NEW.

      Thanks for weighing in and adding to the discussion Geo.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another excellent post Dick. We’ve talked about this before, the stupidity of the advertising community thinking this is still the 1960s when the older generation was our folks! We are not, and so many are missing us entirely by discounting the 56+ demographic. We have money, we have time, our minds are open to new things, and we are looking to enjoy our lives! On the trip we’re on now, the majority of folks we see at the various sites we’re going to, are the same ones who were buying pimple cream in the 60s…baby boomers! Why do they think we’ve turned into our parents?


    Liked by 2 people

  3. Rick M Singel

    Dick, this topic has always fascinated me, so thanks for addressing it. It strikes me as completely illogical that marketers target the people with no money and ignore the people with the money. I know George proposed the industry reasons for this, and it STILL makes no sense to me. I, Joe Lunch-Bucket, at 64 am STILL buying plenty of things–more than I EVER did when I was in my no-money years. I am NOT branded–having some extra money and trying new things makes life interesting.
    George’s explanation aside, it still all seems so bass-ackward.

    Yeah, I am with you 100% Dick.


    • Hi Rick,

      Thanks for contributing your thoughts to the post. I remember calling on a pharmacy that also sold electronic gear. The owner told me that kids look at the latest stuff and say, I’m going to wait because new stuff will be coming out in the next six months. Whereas older customers would say “I’ll take it.” “And if new stuff comes out in six months, I’ll be back and buy that too.”

      Missing this valuable and lucrative market is a big mistake. IMHO

      People who’s had to put off most things in life up to this point, are now in a “get it now/do it now” mode of life.



  4. Excellent! The non-imaginative CYA spread sheeters aren’t serving the huge radio nutured Boomer audience. IMHO, it’s Fear of Rejection by young media buyers who never fell in love with radio. Super underserving huge Boomer dollars is plain stupid. Boomers spend; millennials sponge. Boomers buy Beamers, travel, pay the freight, spend money on downsizing, Grandchildren and home entertainment. Millenials were influenced by music loving Boomer parents and olders sibs. Radio is the perfect Super Connector to reach this lucrative pre-disposed 45-74 cash cow. “It’s Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” but you only hear the Four Season on Broadway. Isn’t it time to curate new targeted mass appeal programming & current lifestyle services? Guess it all Depends on who can get it up. Clark Smidt, CB. Certified Boomer.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Doug


    This reminds me of something I used to tell prospects when they would tell me “your listeners aren’t my customers”. I would respond with “how do you expect them to be your customer when you aren’t asking them to shop your business?”. I’m sure I came across as an egomaniac to many folks, but it was true… can you expect people to visit your business when you don’t invite them. It’s the same with the 55+ demo. Marketers are so focused on the 18-49 and 25-54 demos that they don’t even ask the 55+ demo to check them out. It’s like the advertising world believes that once a person turns 55 they move into a retirement community, never leave the house, aren’t open to anything new, are stuck in their ways, and just ride off into the sunset doing the same things they’ve always done. It seems backwards to me to ignore a demo that has money to spend, has grandchildren (who wouldn’t want to talk to someone who loves spoiling their grandchildren…but I digress), and doesn’t have the type of lifestyle restrictions that someone in their 30’s or 40’s may have.

    Nice post Dick!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Michael Rice

    I’m not getting your blog postings yet Dick. I registered over a week ago. Does this take a while?


    • Hi Michael,

      No, it’s instant.

      You need to click on the “FOLLOW” button on the bottom right hand side of your computer screen. I’m told that this “FOLLOW” button doesn’t appear on cell phones or some tablets. So I always recommend using a laptop or desktop computer to subscribe.

      Then you get a confirmation email saying you want to receive my weekly blog as an email.

      That’s it.

      If you have any technical issues, you will have to contact WordPress as I have no idea how any of this works. Sorry.

      Thank you for reading my blog.



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