Community Active Boomer Loves Sharing Info On Her Saturday Morning Radio Show
By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
A sprite and lively 56 years young, Rebecca Imholz is on the younger side of the baby boomer generation, typically those born from 1946 (post World War II) until 1964 (the year the British Invasion hit America). Too many in Charleston, Imholz is best recognized, if not by her lovely face, than her sweet voice as she hosts her weekly radio show, 'Let's Talk Boomers!' which airs Saturday mornings on WSC 94.3 on your FM dial. The news radio format is owned and operated by iHeart Radio in Mount Pleasant.
Offering valuable information to aging baby boomers, most now in the 60's and 70's is something near and dear to Imholz' heart. "When I turned 50, that was a big birthday year for me. I love my husband and kids, and I knew I was well invested in their lives. But as they were getting older and more independent, I knew it was time for me to find something I was passionate about."
Having a background in media in her younger years, piloting a radio program seemed only natural to her. "I had worked in radio when I was at Virginia Tech, and my degrees were in journalism and political science."
Those who know her personally here in the low country understand Imholz is quick to make friends, mostly due to her father having been in the U.S. Air Force and the family moving often. "The beauty of relocating a lot is that I was never a part of the populace. Every two or three years we might be in a new place. So I made friends with those who might not be popular or in the 'in crowd'. I had to figure out how to make friendships with people who grew up in a particular area, knowing I not might be around next year. That's challenging, but looking back it was also exciting."
She saw a good bit of the country. "We were never outside of the United States. It was Michigan, California, and Virginia. After two or three years then we would move on. But my father retired in Virginia, which was nice because he went to Virginia Tech, and that's where I went. So I'm a Hokie, whatever that is. But it turned out turned out to be a really good decision. That's where my husband went to grad school, which is how we met."
Her studies in college and her time in Virginia helped her career take shape. "I wanted to get a communications degree, did some part time work in radio and interned at a TV station in Roanoke, and ended up taking more of a PR position with the Department of Energy."
That job furthered her administration and networking skills. "I helped develop communications programs, working with contractors, and other duties. I worked for the Secretary of Energy Task Force out of Germantown Maryland, even though we lived in Virginia. I managed research grants through Virginia Tech which is how the money came in, and the client was the Department of Energy. I got to travel and meet very interesting people, everyone from Indian tribes to local and state governments. Anyone who had nuclear facility."
How did the Imholz family end up in Charleston. "My husband took a position with MUSC. He's in IT, and we came here in 1995. Been in Mount Pleasant the entire time. Because of how I grew up, I knew I had to get involved in the community for as long as we going to be here. Obviously that's been over two decades now. But I knew right away I wanted to be active in church, school, faith based, and civic organizations. So I got involved with my sons in the public schools, in leadership roles essentially."
Thinking financially forward caused her to enter the work force again. "I went back to work when my oldest son got into Wando High School, and I realized how much is was going to cost when he finished high school. So I went into marketing for McAlister Smith Funeral Home. Worked there for a while and eventually started with James McAlister Funeral Home. I do his marketing."
Specific life changes brought about her interest in connecting baby boomers. "Two things were going on around the time I turned 50. My mother's health started to deteriorate. So I became a Sandwich Boomer. Children still at home with an aging parent six to seven hours away in Virginia. So I wanted to go back to work, maybe more part time. And still I wanted to do something I was passionate about. So I started the radio show and working with Jimmy (McAlister) part time, doing outreach programs for him, bringing people into his facility."
Her new found passion and endeavor appear to be divinely redemptive. "It all worked out for the radio show. I was blessed almost right away. And I decided I wanted to own the show, not just host the show, which is sometimes scary. Being the sole owner of something. I have to pay iHeart Media. But I went out and secured sponsors. And six years now it's been going well."
'Let's Talk Boomers!' primarily exist with core partners. "I have two really strong sponsors, Exit Realty of the Carolinas, that's Michael Washburn who owns are the franchises in North and South Carolinas. We talk about the needs seniors might have. We talk about downsizing, relocation, and things that are often major life changes. He also has a real estate training school for anyone interested in a second career in real estate. We discuss what that might look like, and how to succeed in real estate, because many don't make it. So he's been a really good sponsor."
Her second program partner is equally as welcoming. "My other sponsor is Homegrown Financial, and that's David Heilman. I've known him with my work in a non-profit called Low Country Senior Network. I was president of it. He's was president of it. It's made of senior service providers focusing on health care, retirement, estate planning and other issues concerning seniors."
Although she would entertain other sponsors and has a few advertisers, Imholz admits to being in a good place. "Right now I'm comfortable with advertisers. There might be room for more down the road. I'm always looking for advertisers, but want those who are the right fit. Basically the show is an opportunity maker for me. It opens up doors. Like with Exit Realty I do some outreach for them, help set up events. It all falls under 'Let's Talk Boomers!'. So, I'm more of a consultant at times."
Imholz has discovered over her 56 years she loves to communicate with people. "Everybody has a story and I love to listen to their stories. My sponsors have regular spots but I love to have guests on that talk about the community. We talk about the arts, health, what's happening around town, and issues of concern to seniors and retirees. Of course Michael Wasburn and David Heilman are on once a month. They have regular spots on the show."
'Let's Talk Boomers!' does not air live on Saturday mornings. "I do pre-record the show. It airs on the weekend but we record earlier in the week. It's a 15 minute spot we record, and I'll promote them on my Facebook page and website during the week. The show is 15 minutes but it last 30 minutes with advertisers, and I do a little intro segment of what's happening in the community. At the end of the show a sponsor every other month has a two minute back and forth talk that allows them to really focus on what they have to offer."
The format of the show is simple. "It's too talk to boomers out there. About issues and topics relevant to people 45 and older." While folks in the mid 40's might not be traditional baby boomers, Imholz is reaching a broader market. "I don't sandwich in that two decades from 1946-1964. So really I call it Boomers & Beyond because a lot of the folks who listen in who are retired, and they are volunteering, and there kids might be in their 40's. Issues we talk about on the show might be of interest to baby boomers, and their adult children might find something of interest as well."
The radio show does have a core following. "I meet folks who say I listen to you every Saturday. I have a strong following and the ratings are good. Really happy to be on the FM station, because that reaches a strong segment. We have a lot of fun. I love to be able to share topics of relevance with folks who need to know. Keep in mind 43 new people move into the area every day."
Imholz agrees demographics and thinking has changed now for those in their typical retirement years, unlike their parents born pre-World War II. The oldest baby boomers are in their mid 70's. "But that 74 year old is not like their parents. They are active and they want to stay busy. They enjoy an active lifestyle. My show taps into that mindset."
She says baby boomers have a wide range of interests. "They love hearing about arts and entertainment. They appreciate hearing about blues and jazz music concerts. Baby boomers love music of all genres. Anything to do with music has been very popular on the show. I have artists on the show. I have book authors. Boomers are in book clubs and love to read. So having guests on that inform the listeners is very important to me."
The few advertisers that make the show do not pay for air time. "That's why I have sponsors, so I can pick and choose who I want to have own. It's less about control than it is about having the right fit for the show. I love advertisers. I just need to know they are of interest to the listeners, and I have to equate for the 30 minutes of air time."
She records the show earlier in the week. "I usually tape the show on Mondays at 1pm, and try to do another at 2pm. I prefer to knock out two every week. so I can skip a week. It's not always the case, but I stay so busy it's often easier to tape two shows when I'm in the studio."
Imholz not only welcomes making new friends, but loves networking. "Mount Pleasant, and Charleston is still really a small community. If you're out there and you're active in the community than you're going to know somebody who knows somebody. I love making new friendships and business connections."
For those unaware of 'Let's Talk Boomers!', Imholz adds, "We're at the next best stage of our lives. If your fortunate enough that your children are grown and settled, and your aging parents hopefully they are doing okay, than this is your time. Maybe you need to do some things you always wanted to do, because you didn't have the time or the resources."
She adds, "With the show I'm trying to help folks check off their bucket list. And some of those bucket list items might just be the things we all need to know about. I'll have guests on who talk about financial concerns, or what do I do about Medicare, or medical issues. We want listeners to stay healthy so they can tackle their bucket list. I'll have travel agents on to talk about cruises to take. It's a good mix."
Breaking it down. "A lot of what the show focuses on is just the resources baby boomers need on a day to day basis. Many boomers want to age in place. Some are ready to move to the active 55 and older communities. Some love where they are."
Imholz admits 'Let's Talk Boomers!' has given her an added thrill in her own life. "I wanted something that would fill my time, but again it had to be something I was excited about. When the radio program came to mind I did some research to see if there were others shows or similar names that I might have issue. There wasn't really much."
The name came about rather easy. "I told my husband we're going to talk about boomers, and right away he said well call it 'Let's Talk Boomers!'. He said that's what you're doing, so call it what you're doing. That was the moment the light came on."
She had no problem selling the concept of the show. "I went to iHeart Media and they said that sounds interesting. There were some opening and block programs available. I started at 11 o'clock at that time, and not long after an opening came up for 9:30am, so I took that. That's been a good time slot for me."
Although she's not in the studio on Saturdays while the show airs she is interactive. "I do take calls on my cell phone, usually at the end of the show. We'll have giveaways, or they want further info and I can give the number out to my sponsors." There are benefits to taking calls. "I like talking to listeners because it provides feedback."
After more than two decades in the greater Charleston community, active east of the Cooper, and piloting a useful radio program, Imholz admits life is good. "I'm in a good place. When I'm out in the community I love to share my own stories, and hear stories from people I meet. Hopefully I'm making a difference in the community."
On a personal level Imholz loves staying active and participating in all Charleston has to offer. "I love music. I love going to the barn jams at Awendaw Green. That's a really fun Wednesday night event. My husband is an avid cyclist, so he keeps busy with that. I love the Charleston Music Hall. I don't drink beer but I enjoy going to some of the local breweries when they have music. Many have wine so I can do with that."
When it comes to dining out she has a couple of go to places. "As far as food goes we love dining at Coda Del Pesce on Isle of Palms. The owner Ken is a friend of my husband, and also a cyclist. He also owns a really quaint place downtown called Trattoria Lucca. I feel certain many people are aware of one or both of his restaurants. He uses fresh seafood in all his Italian dishes. I love to go there and just let them pick out a meal for me. Great food and great people. It's a nice place to have a nice evening out."
As far as activities. "I have a book club and I love to walk. I don't exercise as much as I would like, but pilates is on my own bucket list to start taking up. But I walk a lot. I enjoy reading and book club, and I really love volunteering for the Bands of Wando Foundation. It helps raise money for students who couldn't afford to be in the band."
Imholz practices what she preaches. "I am very community oriented. I have been since we got to Charleston. I'm one of those persons who has a lot of plates up in the air. I'm a multi-tasker but trying to keep everything in perspective." She doesn't jump at every opportunity. "As I get older I have to balance an aging parent and my family, so there are times I say no. My name is out there so people contact me for volunteer work."
She does maintain a singular mindset. "I approach everything in a very purposeful attitude. I don't necessarily look at something to see how it would benefit me, but maybe how it might benefit my network of relations with other organizations or businesses. So that's how I look at things." The same holds true to her church affiliation. "I am an active member of Sea Coast."
Summarizing Rebecca Ihmolz breaks down 'Let's Talk Boomers!' in a few words. "It's a show for baby boomers and beyond. We talk about topics important to you, and to help you live the best years of your life. Give us a listen on Saturday mornings."
Additional links related to Rebecca Imholz https://letstalkboomers.com/