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Know Your Audience?

By Lucy Swift, Director, Partnership Development, Twin Cities Public Television

At Twin Cities Public Television, people aged 50+ are our most faithful viewers and our most loyal members. To learn how to serve them best, we needed to get to know them better. We started with a simple premise: To engage those 50+ in anything—be it volunteering, watching a TV program, or finding resources to help tpt—we need to know who they are, and we need to speak to them with authenticity.

So who are they? We quickly learned that they are NOT one monolithic group who all think and act alike. In addition, knowing demographics such as age, race, and place is not enough to glean real insight. Boomers are at a variety of life stages and have a range of ways of thinking about life. Do they have kids? Are their kids out of the house yet? Do they feel financially secure? Have they had any health challenges? Do they look on the bright side? Are they worrying?

The programs that will best serve and engage our 50+ audience are different depending on the members’ different answers to these questions. Our research helped us to determine WHO to target as an audience for each different program approach, HOW to create messages for them, and WHERE to reach them.

To determine WHAT information and community resources our 50+ audience needs most, we turned for advice to our program partners and experts, such as the Minnesota Board on Aging, the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging, the libraries, the Minnesota Gerontological Society, the Vital Aging Network, AARP, and others.

We talked about topics like health, transportation, and finances. Eventually, we came to realize that no matter what we were talking about, or which branch of the boomer tree we were talking with, the discussion was better, stronger, and more authentic when we approached it by allowing individuals to speak directly about their own experiences. Telling your own story is the essence of civic engagement. No matter what the issue, the consistent themes we heard included: each of us is our own best advocate, change for the better takes personal involvement, volunteers are always welcome, donations count, and advocacy matters.

At tpt, we facilitate civic engagement through storytelling. We believe that stories—put into the hands and hearts of our community—can make a difference. We’ve included a few examples of stories that we’ve created using the knowledge and wisdom of people aged 50+ in our community. We hope you will use them to start conversations, to take action, and to tell your own stories.


  • The Power of Volunteerism is a co-production with AARP and the Invisible Force Coalition. See it at It focuses directly on ways to get engaged in volunteering and to advocate for issues.
  • Love of Car: Transportation as We Age is a coproduction with the Minnesota Gerontological Society that educates Minnesotans about the resources available for continued, safe community mobility and quality of life as we age. See it at It uses stories from the community to inspire leaders, policymakers, and others to consider the needs of the growing number of aging adults as they make decisions about transportation and transit issues.
  • With tpt’s own series, Getting There, we are on a journey to engage those 50+ in discussions about the issues, opportunities, and ways to use community resources for vital living, from health and nutrition to civic engagement to housing to life-long learning and much more. See it, use it, be inspired by it. Go to to enjoy and learn. Getting There is by the community and for the community and for the community. It is for you.


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