AARP The Magazine EIC Shares Some Robust Numbers

Print and online revenues in 2016 were both up

This week, as part of the Folio: Association Media Summit, AARP The Magazine editor Bob Love delivered a breakfast keynote address. His remarks at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. included an itemization of the many reasons to love the operatonial year that just was, bolstered by the publication’s membership framework:

“The Magazine’s circulation went up in 2016–to 22.5 million–and our readership topped 37 million for the first time. Against the odds and bucking the big financial trends in publishing, our print advertising revenue edged up a percentage point in 2016, while our online revenue rose five percent. Our story was so compelling in so many ways, that–and I am proud to tell you this—earlier this year, we were chosen, for the first time in The Magazine’s history, as one of Ad Age’s Magazines of the Year in 2016.

The magazine publishes six times a year. Where it once used to carry 70 pages of editorial content, that total is now down to an average of 52, in part to help manage increased print and postage costs.

On the anecdotal front, Love stressed the importance of fact-checking by relating a few of his own experiences of yore, on that front. Like just about everything else journalism-related, it was more colorful back in those pre-Internet days:

As a fact checker at New York magazine in the early 1980s, I drove around Manhattan all night in a broken-down, death-trap of a Ford Pinto with my friend Deborah to check which stores were really open 24 hours, as they claimed. It was for a story called “New York All Night.” Fully caffeinated and heavily nicotined, I would bound out of car and sprint into delis and groceries and bodegas, asking in a loud voice: “You open all night???” Many of the people I encountered didn’t speak English and thought I was either a maniac or a criminal. I recall seeing one of them reach for a gun under the counter and shoo me away with the other hand. What I can remember about those nights was that was that the effort of getting it right was actually fun. I enjoyed my years as a fact checker.

I tracked down Henry Kissinger on the phone at Claridges hotel in London after midnight to ask him if he wore a particular kind of shoes the writer had mentioned. I called David Geffen at his beach house in Fire Island to ask if he had really switched producers on the last Donna Summer record because some of his friends didn’t care for it. Geffen actually screamed at me, something like: “Do you think that’s the way I do business? You must be joking!”

The April/May 2017 issue of AARP The Magazine is chock-full of celebrity interviews, reflecting as much as anything Love’s professional background: Loretta Lynn, Bryan Cranston, Don Cheadle, Dr. Phil McGraw and Graham Nash. Love the cheeky cover line too for the Sally Field piece. The Pasadena native is 70.