By Holland Cooke
BLOCK ISLAND, RI — Today, April 4, is a sad anniversary. Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis. In Indianapolis, where Robert Kennedy was campaigning for president, the crowd was unaware.
This year, I and my classmates in the high school Class of ’68 TURN 68. And as chaotic as 2018 seems, we’ve seen this movie before (although the music was better the first time).
It’s hard to imagine all-we-witnessed fifty years ago happening in one year.
- In 1968 there was never a time Viet Nam wasn’t on page one. It was the first TV war, and we saw Khe Sanh and the Tet Offensive in our living room. North Korea seized the USS Pueblo.
- There were clenched fists at the Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City.
- On television, “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” helped us escape reality by…confronting it. Also debuting that year: “60 Minutes.”
- And the movies didn’t shy-away either: “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “Planet of the Apes” tackled race. Dustin Hoffman was “The Graduate,” confused about…what next? On Broadway: “Hair”
- The Beatles’ number one single was “Hey Jude” and number one LP was their “White Album.”
- Christian Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant.
- The Boeing 747made its maiden flight. NASA launched Apollo Seven, the first manned Apollo mission. And on Christmas Eve, Apollo Eight orbited the moon.
- Denny McClain threw 30 wins, and his Detroit Tigers, down 3 games to 1, won The World Series.
- After Gene McCarthy gave LBJ a scare in the New Hampshire Primary, Bobby Kennedy got into the race, and the president got out. Watching Kennedy’s announcement on TV in California, candidate Richard Nixon said “Something bad is going to come of this. God knows where this is going to lead.” Kennedy was shot moments after declaring victory in the California Primary.
- At a Democratic convention that turned violent in Chicago, Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie were nominated. In November, Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were elected.
- In 1968, Yale began admitting women. Jackie married Aristotle Onassis. Charlie Chaplin and Helen Keller died, and Celine Dion and Will Smith were born.
- Gas was 34 cents a gallon, a movie ticket was a buck fifty and the Minimum Wage was a buck sixty. McDonalds introduced the Big Mac, 49 cents.
- President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act.
If all of this seems like ancient history to you, check the ratings for your listeners’ Median Age.
No, we Baby Boomers are no longer the biggest generation in history. Yes, Millennials now outnumber us. But they don’t out-spend us at retail. It’s all they can do to pay-down student loans. And unlike them, we have a lifelong AM/FM listening habit.
Programmers and talent: As the nuns used to ask, shaking a bony index finger in our young faces: “WHO do you think you’re talking to?” (We didn’t dare say “Sister, never use a preposition to end a sentence with;” because she’d whack us with that ruler again.) What are Boomers’ interests and issues and values?
Sales: Brainstorm this. In case you missed it at Talkers.com a while back, your virtual Sales meeting awaits on YouTube, and it’ll have reps shouting-out prospects. Search “Holland Cooke Grey is Gold.”
Holland Cooke (HollandCooke.com) is a media consultant working at the intersection of Talk Radio and the Internet; and he hosts “The Big Picture” TV show on RT America. Follow him on Twitter @HollandCooke