The radio series keeps local residents over 50 years old in the know.
The idea for a 50-plus podcast series sprouted in 2011 when the Fairfax County Government Center ran Medicare Moments, a scripted radio show that explained the intricacies of the Medicare program. But as this and another seniors-focused series called Long Term Care gained popularity on their respective webpages, someone suggested not only continuing the series, but turning to an unscripted format and posting on a twice-monthly basis.
That someone was Jim Person, who has been hosting the Fairfax 50+ podcast since its start in 2015. The name is drawn from the Fairfax 50+ Community Action Plan, a county initiative that seeks to foster a more age-friendly community.
Shows have grown in variety and topic since the Medicare Moments days. Some shows focus on services and preventable issues relevant to seniors such as scams, opiate safety and emergency preparedness. “But we don’t want to just alert people to the problems of being an older adult,” says Grace Lynch, the podcast’s preproduction and marketing manager. “Community engagement is big for us—telling people how they can be involved in the community.” So, seniors can also learn about wellness activities, volunteer opportunities or upcoming events happening in Fairfax County.
Fairfax 50+ also takes the time to spotlight local talent by inviting artists onto the show to discuss their work. Music is no exception; the podcast has showcased the likes of the Encore chorale and the barbershop group the Harmony Heritage Singers. “We have a fantastic retirement community in Fairfax County,” says Lynch. “A lot of talented people.”
Why use a podcast to do all this? Put simply, it is quickly emerging as a convenient and practical form of media. “Podcasting is a growing industry, and more folks get their news and information while on the go,” explains Person. “We wanted to be able to reach residents where they were—in their car commuting, on a walk, at the gym. And podcasting is a natural way to do that.”
Lynch also appreciates the conversational element of the podcast. “The thing I really liked about [a podcast] was the ability for people to tell their stories in their own words. This is much bigger than the county telling a story about a couple of programs or prevention methods.”
Upcoming topics for the Fairfax 50+ podcast will cover caregiving and traveling, as well as hurricane preparedness. The show also has plans to profile the OLLI Players, a local senior theater troupe, and the Parkinson Social Network.
A list of Fairfax County’s podcasts, including Fairfax 50+, can be found on their website. // fairfaxcounty.gov