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.
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.”
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.