Radio Readies for a New Boomer Format

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Radio Readies for a New Boomer Format

Veteran radio programmer John Sebastian is launching a new radio format called “The Wow Factor,” targeting the 55-72 Baby Boomer demo.  Will stations carry it?  Will listeners embrace it?  More importantly, will advertisers shift dollars to support it?

“Advertising agencies are already aware of the huge revenue potential by appealing to Baby Boomers,” Sebastian recently told Radio Ink.  “Agencies have been reticent to include radio in their buys when there has been no format appropriate for this huge group of people.”  He notes that Classic Rock and Classic Hits focus on Adults 25-54, although Nielsen ratings show that Classic Rock skews well into the 55+ demo.

But the bigger question is will brands and their agencies take their eyes (and dollars) off of Adults 25-54, long heralded as “The Money Demo” in radio advertisiing.  Adults 25-54 are the ones making significant, first-time life purchases like a home and all of its trappings, plus the 1,001 expenses that come with starting and raising a family.

Conversely, the 55-72 demo is at the other end of the spend cycle.  They control greater wealth with higher discretionary spending potential.  Travel and leisure brands will comprise a significant chunk of advertisers interested in this new format, although the dominant category will likely be healthcare.  Aging bodies bring ailments and aches, coupled with the need to purchase supplemental Medicare coverage and long term health care.  Boomers “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” they plan for his arrival.

Without giving too much away, Sebastian promises an eclectic mix of music, unlike “The Breeze,” a current 70s soft rock format or “AAA” (Adult Album Alternative) which appeals to Boomers.  He promises a mix of familiar and forgotten songs, perhaps explaining the “Wow” in “The Wow Factor.” 

Time will tell if this new format will gain sufficient station clearance and audience share to survive its initial salvo.  The cost of mass marketing to find an audience is restrictive, but social media targeting (think: Facebook) can help spread the word and drive tune-in with Adults 55-72. 

Here at The Radio Agency, we’ll be listening for signs of success before risking advertiser dollars on an untested concept.  But given Sebastian’s stellar track record in radio programming, we’ll have both ears tuned for signs of life, as the Baby Boomer demo is an underserved segment of the population, perhaps ripe for a little “Wow” on the radio bandwidths that delivered the music of their Wonder Years.

Gina Messick is Advertising Coordinator at The Radio Agency.  You can reach her by email at [email protected].