Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wish I could help--but I'm too old

No one wants to help the nation’s economic recovery more than I do. With an IRA that has tanked the past 12 months, cost of living on the rise, friends losing jobs right and left because of the slowdown and the constant barrage of news stories about corporate greed on Wall Street and in banks, I really hope that Barack and the boys can turn things around.
Just wish I could help.
You see, I’m not in the right age group, the 18-49 year olds who, according to the “experts,” are the only ones with spending money. This comes from the world of media, where your viewership, listenership or readership numbers don’t matter unless you score high in that “18-49” range. The TV Nielsen ratings have a category for 18-49 year olds of its own. Radio listenership has been heavily measured in that same demographic for years (along with other smaller demographics—radio ratings are more dissected than a body on an episode of CSI). Newspaper circulation numbers don’t necessarily follow that same guideline, but you can bet advertising agencies are very focused on what those 18-49 year olds are doing.
This really hit home when I saw that one of my favorite TV shows, “Without a Trace,” was cancelled this summer by CBS. The show was regularly in the top 25 in the Nielsens, and even in the 18-49 year olds, it was ranked at number 19 last week. I’ve read about the cast—they weren’t ready to quit. The writers seemed okay with continuing a scripted TV series for an 8th season. So what’s the deal? Well, apparently WOT didn’t consistently land in the top 30 of the “18-49” group last season. So CBS, a network that has ALWAYS appealed to an older audience (the average age of a viewer of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric is 62), pulled to plug on “Without a Trace.” Like its characters, the show will disappear in the fall for no good reason.
Don’t get me wrong—I love that 18-49 age group—particularly since my fiancĂ© is in it. But for some reason, because I’m not in that range anymore, my viewership, listenership or readership habits don’t matter.
So I can’t help the economy, because, according to the rules of media in 2009, I DON’T HAVE EXPENDABLE INCOME.
Wow, what a shock that must be to my mortgage company, my credit union that financed my car, and to all those checkers are Walmart who see me use my debit card every week. Hey, don’t bother processing those charges and cashing those checks, because I’m over 49 and DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY.
Obviously this type of thinking—the categorizing of ANYONE for any reason, is flawed. The bank customer who wanders into the lobby one day dressed like he just fell off the hay wagon could very well be the person who invented them. The nicely-dressed businessman in the tailored suit presenting his latest investment strategies to a room full of entrepreneurs could very well be a crook. See Bernie Madoff.
Likewise, you shouldn’t judge a book by the “age” of its cover. If we are over 50, don’t assume we aren’t still interested in contemporary music to load on our iPods, hot cars to drive, improvements to our homes, nice places to travel or new items for our wardrobes. I’ve been 18-49, and I can tell you for a fact that I have A LOT MORE EXPENDABLE INCOME NOW then I did for many of those years in the golden age range.
So I apologize to President Obama, our country’s financial leaders and the nation as a whole that because I’m over 49, I will be unable to help with the financial recovery through my buying decisions and purchases. I’d really like to help.
But I can’t.


  1. VERY funny! Since you're not going to be using your expendable income, can I have it?