News and more with a seniors skew

They are called Suppies (Senior Urban Professionals), Rappies (Retired Affluent Professionals,) Woofs (Well-Off Old Folks,) Grampies (Growing Retired Active Monied People In an Excellent State, and opals (Older People with Active Lifestyles.)But no matter by what acronym you call them, they...

They are called Suppies (Senior Urban Professionals), Rappies (Retired Affluent Professionals,) Woofs (Well-Off Old Folks,) Grampies (Growing Retired Active Monied People In an Excellent State, and opals (Older People with Active Lifestyles.)

But no matter by what acronym you call them, they are still my readers.

Who am I? I’m Today’s Seniors, the largest newspaper for people over 50 in Canada.

I like to think of myself as a spokesman – a voice for all of Ontario’s over-50 population.

My news stories are to the point and reflect older persons’ viewpoints, rather than articles assembled for the general population.

For lack of a better term, I might be considered schizophrenic because my personality is split into so many sections – health, finance, travel, housing, arts and entertainment, news, features and columns.

And I’m famous, at least on my cover.

People like Frank Sinatra, Kirk Douglas, Arnold Palmer, Don Cherry, Sean Connery, Pierre Berton, William Shatner and many other famous personalities have graced my front page.

Attention grabber

Having that familiar mug on the front is a great newsstand attraction and it makes sure that readers not familiar with my insides will pick me up.

But being an easy pick-up was not always the case. There was a time, in my infancy, when it was just a struggle to survive.

I was born in August 1985, the brainchild of then North York Mirror Publisher George Coyle under the touching name of the Seniors Watch Review.

Fortunately, I was divorced from that moniker after only two issues. A new flag was developed and on issue three I proudly displayed my new name – Today’s Seniors.

Early years

I remember fondly my early years – two people on staff selling the paper, the editorial coming from local North York, Ont. columnists and from the editorial staff of the Mirror, one of Metroland Publishing Printing and Distributing weekly newspapers that dot most of the large towns and cities in southern Ontario.

I was parochial, almost everything pertained to the city of North York.

But slowly things changed. When I placed Tommy Hunter on my front page in 1987, the style of my cover changed forever, and I like to think, so did my fortunes. My cover now represents my signature, and, as I said before, one of its main calling cards.

Now, with more people picking me up, my advertisers started to see the results. It changed my personality, I became more aggressive, more sure of my spot in the marketplace. In September 1987, I broke out of my shell and expanded into Hamilton.

I like to think of the next period of my life as the formative years. Years of expansion and new frontiers. In December 1988, I travelled to Ottawa. Then in quick succession, I added Ontario editions in Niagara Falls, London and Kitchener.

Grew

I grew so fast that the old Mirror building in North York could no longer hold me. It was time to leave the nest and leave my parent behind.

So, in the fall of 1989, I left the Mirror and, along with my mentor, George Coyle, moved to a new abode in Mississauga, Ont. I’ve been here ever since.

It is also here that I have matured. I now have 11 Ontario editions, adding Barrie, Oshawa, Belleville, Peterborough and Kingston to the fold in recent years, and, like an amoeba, I’m about to split again, taking in Windsor early in the new year.

In my early childhood only 44,000 copies came off the press. Right now, my reading family receives 348,000 copies monthly, getting the message across to more than 900,000 readers when the pass-along factor is added in.

Advertising is my backbone, and it also determines how large I get each month. In the beginning, I only contained 28-32 pages. Today, I am a robust 72-84 pages, but, occasionally, I get brash and come in at more than 100.

Not being one to sit on my duff, I have also expanded into other areas. Premier Consumer Shows is another part of my personality.

Started in 1991 with a travel show that attracted 15,000 people, I have expanded to run six major travel and maturity shows in different markets.

Show

Last fall, my Toronto show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre attracted more than 42,000 people over a two-day period.

I have grown quite a bit in my eight short years (56 in dog years), but the growth spurt is far from over.

There are always new frontiers to cross and more mountains to climb.

I’m looking to Florida with a special publication for snowbirds, and I’m looking to father a boomer’s type newspaper called In Touch for people over 45. Someday I would like to spread my word across Canada.

I hope I will not let success go to my head. After all, you are only as good as your press clippings.

I will continue to be a spokesman for the 50-plus generation and treat my audience with the reverence it deserves.

Don Atanasoff is editor-in-chief of Mississauga, Ont.-based Today’s Seniors, a division of Metroland Printing, Publishing & Distributing.