Frustrated by the media’s blind eye toward older Americans, a married couple aged 72 and 71 years respectively, have developed “The Leading Gen,” a half-hour lifestyle program they are producing through a small public TV station, and have placed on more than 100 PBS outlets.
According to this article in Viariety; “The Leading Gen” stylistically resembles any other local magazine show, until you look closer — noticing the presence of its septuagenarian female co-host.
The 13-episode series, which deals with a wide variety of topics from health to finances, is targeted to those age 40 to 100 — an almost comically broad swath that nevertheless accurately reflects TV’s tyrannical preoccupation with younger demographics. In a world dominated by concerns about reaching adults under 50 (and preferably below 35), it’s possible to transition with astonishing speed from beginning of middle age to “Paging Dr. Kevorkian.”
As each episode notes, the current crop of baby boomers will “live longer than any generation in history,” adding that people living 20 to 40 years longer than anticipated “may have not planned for this extended life.”
Ausman (the host)– a neurosurgeon by training — engaged in extensive research on ageing in formulating a program he claims is “relevant to everyone.” In part, he was upset to see people being elbowed to retire at 65, which given improved longevity and the importance of maintaining brain activity as we age, he calls “the worst thing you can do.”
“How do you educate someone over 40? They don’t go to school, and they don’t like lectures,” Ausman says. But they do watch lots of television — which, perversely, is among the reasons advertisers have historically given for feeling at liberty to ignore them. After all, they essentially reach millions of 55-plus viewers watching CBS dramas and cable news for free while negotiating ad rates predicated on younger demos.
Bringing advertisers around to recognizing untapped value in older demos remains a tall order. For PBS, however, which has often fretted about its graying audience and what that augurs for the service’s future, catering to those over 50 — the people who are predominantly watching public TV anyway — isn’t just good business; it’s a no-brainer.