BoomerCafé enters 15th year as voice for Baby Boomers with youthful spirits, active lifestyles

By David Henderson and Greg Dobbs

Hard to believe, but BoomerCafé.com has entered its 15th year. Let us share the history about how BoomerCafé came into being, first as an idea, then as an online reality.

It was 1998 and as a gag, David Henderson’s sister had signed him up for AARP’s monthly magazine. Month after month, the slick publication would show up in the mail, generally sporting the photo of a celebrity on the front cover. David relegated it to the place we all put things we think someone else might want to read even if we don’t: the magazine rack in the bathroom.

The BoomerCafé Guys ... the co-founders and old friends behind BoomerCafé.com. David Henderson (left) with Greg Dobbs.

The BoomerCafé Guys … the co-founders and old friends behind BoomerCafé.com. David Henderson (left) with Greg Dobbs.
(Photo by Anna J.M. Henderson.)

Well, actually, David gave it a go at first, but it was more like “skimming” than “reading,” because in feature story after feature story, there was little of substance that connected with his lifestyle. The style and content of the AARP monthly was — and still is — similar to those fluffy airline magazines.

At the time, David was active with his career and being a father. In his free time, he practiced fly-fishing and took long bike rides… and AARP’s magazine added nothing to any of that. It was for “old people,” and certainly had no relevance to the baby boomer generation. David recalls being amused at stories like “Great Places to Dump RV Waste” and advice about how to “invest” in the perfect burial plot. That one really gave him a chuckle, because he knew that investments don’t much matter after death.

Working as a senior vice president for a global communications firm based in Washington, DC, David came face-to-face with AARP, not just the magazine but the organization itself. It had decided to hire a PR firm in an attempt to reach the baby boomer generation, which would soon be part of its senior citizen demographic. David thought, “Eureka, at long last.”

The original BoomerCafé logo, designed by creative artist Dill O'Hagan.

The original BoomerCafé logo, designed by creative artist Dill O’Hagan.

But looking around the room during their meeting , what he saw was that all of the AARP representatives were much too young to be boomers, let alone members of their own organization, and their ideas conveyed a complete lack of knowledge about the idiosyncrasies of baby boomers. After all, we are sort of a fun odd lot: we are independent-minded, we question authority, and generally we are better educated and more affluent than other generations. In other words, we aren’t yet looking for burial plots!

AARP eventually hired another agency, and its new magazine “Second Generation” was launched. It was quickly a multi-million-dollar colossal failure. Why? Because nothing in either the promotion or marketing of the print or online versions appealed to boomers. How could they? There weren’t many boomers (if any) behind it, so it was all just more fluff. But, it served one useful purpose; it sparked an idea: maybe David and old friend and network news colleague Greg Dobbs might be able to do a better job of reaching boomers.

The first time David called Greg to talk about it, Greg said he was too busy to focus on something as ambitious as creating a brand new website, between his own work as a radio talk show host and his own leisure time mountain-biking in Colorado and mentoring his boys about skiing. So it came down to that: David was working and parenting and biking and fishing, Greg was working and parenting and biking and skiing, and they came to the mutual realization that both of them were actually living the lives of active boomers with youthful spirits … like so many other boomers they knew. But still, no one was reaching this huge and important group.

So their conversations continued and eventually that led to their vision for a website to reach the tens of millions of people just like them: baby boomers. In July, 1999, BoomerCafé.com was born. Since then, with the generous and invaluable contributions of hundreds of boomer writers around the world, BoomerCafé has become the most popular digital magazine for our generation.

And that’s thanks to you, because you and your own youthful spirit and active lifestyle keep it on top.

12 Comments

  1. Congrats on your 15 years and thanks for your efforts! Millions of us enjoy the articles you publish and the upbeat attitude behind them. Keep ‘em coming! Cheers!
    Marsha
    The Mutinous Boomer

  2. Happy birthday and many happy returns! Since the Boomer generation spans over 18 years (1946-1964), you’ve got at least another 18 years before you turn into an AARP look-alike (argh, don’t!)

    You’re absolutely spot on regarding your comments about AARP: last year, as I was engaged in trying to promote Boomer Lit, I was curious and signed up for a year to see what the biggest magazine in America looked like. They send me a “light paper” version since I live in Italy and I don’t think I’d leave it in the bathroom: it might inspire people to use it in a way it wasn’t intended (grin!)

    But what got me really depressed about AARP in general is their single-minded focus on all things economic and of course on health issues – all of which is right and I fully understand that these are important topics for the aged – but why next to nothing about books? In general, culture is simply not high on their agenda and that is a BIG missed opportunity: as more people retire and have time on their hands, it is obvious that they will read more…

  3. We at BoomerCafé owe so much to the fabulous people around the world who have shared their stories and talent over the years. A simple “thank you” just seems to fall short of the great appreciation we feel.

  4. The two of you just have to be the two coolest guys I know. Despite having just directly preceded in age the boomer crowd, I find in you the archetypes of all that is positive in that generation – true ambassadors. Warmest congratulations on 15 years of fantastic collaboration.

  5. Many congratulations and well done for doing a great job for all those years. I hope you still enjoy doing it as much as we enjoy the results.

    I read your comment about AARP with interest, as I am currently in discussion with the editors of our Sunday Newspaper in the UK about them writing more for us boomers and not just items that their ‘young’ journalists enjoy and are comfortable writing about, so far without much success.

    Cheers

    Brian

  6. Skiing, ATV/SxS riding, rollerblading and some bicycle time. And a full-time job. Nothing in the pages of AARP applies. 15 more years, maybe. LOL

  7. Congratulations on 15 years as being a leader in boomer blogging. It sure is a fun age group to write about.

    Rita blogging at The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *