Why Sebastian Believes in His New Format.


When was the last time a new format came along, stuck around and made money for managers across the country? Is it really possible to come up with a brand new format these days? One that actually generates advertiser interest? John Sebastian says yes, yes indeed.

Since we posted the story about John Sebastian’s new format that targets the 55-72 Baby Boomer demo we’ve received a lot of comments about his plan. Some of the feedback was positive, others said the demo is already being addressed with the AAA format. We reached out to Sebastian to get more specifics on why he believes his new idea will work.

Radio Ink: Is this new format mainly for small markets?
Sebastian: The Wow Factor will be successful in any rated market in this country, large or small. In fact, it’ll be perhaps more impactful in major markets where the 25-54 pie is so cut up by many stations attempting to make this their prime demo.

Radio Ink: You plan to employ full-time hosts. Will small market operators be able to afford your idea?
Sebastian: I’ll adjust the fees appropriately for small markets making the concept affordable for them too. The bigger markets will pay my stipend because this format will make them a huge pot of money from a source that’s not been tapped into. Soon, the potential for increased revenues appealing to the wealthiest demographic in America will cause major city radio stations to come screaming for The Wow Factor!

Radio Ink: Why do you believe so strongly that this is a money making format for radio?
Sebastian: The significant advertising agencies in New York, LA, Chicago, etc are already aware of the huge revenue potential by appealing to Baby Boomers. Just watch prime time television any evening and you’ll witness commercial after commercial aimed directly at 55+. They’re spending billions going after this demo. Ad agencies have been reticent to include radio in their buys when there has been no format appropriate for this huge group of people. Classic Rock and Classic Hits don’t do it for advertisers. Those formats, like so many others, focus on 25-54. The agencies will spend on radio once there’s a format exclusively for 55-72.

Radio Ink: Are you saying there is no other format on the radio now that targets Baby Boomers?
Sebastian: There may be AM stations or translators or signal challenged FMs that do a Boomer type format but there is not a single full signal FM station in the land playing the unique mix I’ve created. It’s never been done in the history of radio programming. 70’s Soft Rock/The Breeze is nothing more than the Light Rock format renamed. The Demo it appeals to is quite a bit younger. The AAA format is literally nothing like my concept. I’ve done AAA and other progressive radio formats…great music…but very different than The Wow Factor which is both eclectic and completely familiar…a powerful and unique combination. The music on this new format is a merging of songs representing the full breadth of the Boomer music experience and history. I’ve recently completed a project of testing and researching every single song in the format. The list is pristine and ready for air.

Radio Ink: Tell us about the hosts. Who will they be?
Sebastian: The air staff on Wow stations will be just as unique as the music. We’ll be looking for veteran personalities who are personally passionate about the music and have experience in the market where they will perform. They must be announcers who can tell a story in very brief form.

Contact Sebastian by e-mail at [email protected]


  1. The top 50 Billboard charted “hits” of rock, pop, country/americana and blues equals that familiar trait. The “stationality,” or personality of the station itself will be the differentiating ingredient. Comfortable, conversational air personalities who can tell that brief, but compelling story into the next tune. Creative audio, spontaneity, real music genre variety: the radio characteristics “not done today.” Could be a real step up from the homogenized formats of today.

  2. Jim: I totally agree with you. Television and Cable are no longer identical for ALL customers. John Sebastian may not be aware of the factors that include “targeting” which is nearly identical to Facebook, Google, Amazon etc. gathering and tracking our habits. Our habits AND purchases or Interests are monitored and tracked so if one is a 70 year old vs a 40 year old each will “see” different bundles of ads or be exposed to associated bundles of ads based on an individuals views, preferences or actual purchases. John Sebastian has an awesome resume and head for programming and a very great track record. Technology is continually adjusting to OUR HABITS and tracking us like a “shadow” and even PREDICTING what we will do next! To program a radio station, one must understand, have the tools and the ability to understand today’s applications and be ready for TOMORROW by THIS AFTERNOON. Unfortunately, radio is NOT the medium it was even 10 years ago. It’s a smaller part of every day life than ever! Adults have more choices than ever to grab their attention and adults 60+ are MORE tech savvy than we probably are afraid to admit. For instance, my mother who is 77 asked me the other day “how does her computer know where she has been on-line”? She cited an example of her looking at a mattress on-line and she still TODAY is getting pop ups for that same brand that she almost purchased. Today, radio programming is much more than a “format” or a collection of tracks and songs. These days, we have to pray that the medium of RADIO can stay relevant and compete with our blue tooth that have the capability of streaming stand alone internet radio stations, HD Channels or downloaded tracks from Amazon, Apple or one’s personal collection. The 70+ audience has not and probably will not gravitate to these other listening and entertainment options BUT younger baby boomers have already figured out what that “media” button is for on car radio receivers and it is NOT for AM nor FM radio unfortunately. The competition used to be OTHER radio stations airing multiple formats. TODAY it’s the numerous options available to both young and old alike that is providing TODAY’s entertainment.

  3. Hello,

    Good luck to the format. This is not the first time that someone has targeted that age group (years ago). Don’t know what was the outcome.

    I am a fan of radio. So much that it has been almost 20 years since I last watched TV at home. I like the type of radio format such as CBC, BBC, NPR, RNZ and ABC (Australia). These are not just radio services that play music.

    I think that playing a variety of music, conversations and even old radio shows mixture could be very good but may not be successful

    I liked such formats even when I was a teenager. NBC’s Monitor shows were very enjoyable.

  4. I would LOVE having this format to listen to. I’ve always wished I’d had resources like Wikipedia to gather interesting teaser tidbits to entice listeners to stick around through the commercial break. The promise of a story teller host keeping me engaged with an equally promising fresh music mix is very exciting.

    Side Note: I’ve often wished that artists would do a separate acoustic version of their hit, but keep it shelved for 25 years. Then, after the original cut has run it’s course till we can’t stand it any more…bring out the acoustic version. Probably too late for that idea to catch on…

    So yes, hat’s off to John Sebastian! I hope the advertisers feel the BOOM!

  5. I’m convinced this would work. The right personality, local to the market, knowing what to say, how to say it and when to stop saying it.

  6. Im 66 years old, and spent 41 years in radio. Im not in the business currently, but I often get asked by friends and aqaintances ‘when will the radio people put a format on local radio for us older people?’ They will listen to some of the stations,but will tell me they know those are mostly targeting the young crowd. And they feel left out. I think this John Sebastion knows there may be a HUGE untapped market out there. So I wish him the best on getting this ball rolling. Dennis Williams Toledo,Ohio

  7. The question is, which will come first; the chicken or the egg? Do we need the advertising community (therefore the ratings companies) to see the value of the 55+ demo to allow such a station to make money, or does a rogue 55+ radio station succeed in making money to demonstrate to the advertising world that such a demo should be addressed? Can such a radio station make money without the aid of ratings and ad agency support (therefore direct sales)?

    • My take is the advertising community sees the value of the 55+ demo. They just don’t believe radio is the best way to sell them on products. The detail and repetition required to make the sale costs too much. It’s easier to do on TV. So that’s why you see so much 55+ advertising on TV. Reverse mortgages are complicated things to sell, and there’s a lot of legal disclaimer that has to be read. Not very fun or sexy.

  8. I think John is on to a great format idea here; however, there is a shortcoming to his premise and that is that watching television gives us any idea of where/how advertising agencies and their clients are targeting their advertising. If John’s seeing ad after ad targeted at the 65+ crowd, it’s probably because his cable/sat provider is targeting his specific 65+ household with those geezer targeted ads. I’ve been in younger households that have the same program provider as I, watching the same programming and seen a completely different ad cluster – a powerful demonstration of cable/sat’s ability to deliver a targeted audience that so far is impossible for radio to presently duplicate.

    Nonetheless, IMHO the format is a great idea and I think it has the potential to generate exactly the listening response and alignment he’s promising.

  9. In responding to TheBigA, allow me to droan on about the Necessity of this format to provide on-air personalities with, at least, a background in being interesting and entertaining.
    Then, there is the Necessity to develop advertising that is more compelling and more influential. The demo won’t mind that at all.
    But since much of that is unlikely to happen, TheBigA may have made a substantial point.

  10. As I’ve said before, the hard part here isn’t the music. The people in this demo have a natural proclivity to want to listen to the radio, and they’re listening now, even though this format isn’t available. By the way, the people in this demo don’t just like old music. A large group of them like current music too. You see them at Americana festivals around the country. They’re listening to NPR. So just playing 60 year old songs won’t satisfy this bunch. The problem is getting advertisers who won’t trash the format with long-form infomercials and a lot of depressing spots in the middle of happy and youthful music. Combine that with the very loud dislike this demo has for being “sold” on anything. This demo hates advertising. They have a very pronounced dislike for it. That’s why I say this is a non-commercial format, similar to AAA.

  11. We are one of the ‘signal challenged FMs’ that John mentions.. saying that, we have quite an audience in our area. KQLH does the music of mainstreet , which is a 55+ format….

    The biggest issue will be the Nielsen rating system…. with most of the PPM and diaries sent to people below 50, it will be hard to show big numbers…

    John is right, but the mentality of the ratings system and the ad agencies needs to change too. Im a boomer… and we still buy cars, appliances and stuff… and of course, food… Many of us opt to eat out…..

  12. According to AARP:
    10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age every day.

    According to the AARP, 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every single day, and this is expected to continue into the 2030s. This means that nearly seven baby boomers are turning 65 every minute.

    Smart move. Last I checked, I have more money to spend than my 25 year old son…for now.


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