By Elizabeth Chang
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Tune in to WCEI 96.7 FM out of Easton, Md., from 7 to 8 p.m. on Mondays and you'll hear two boomer women laughing it up over serious middle-age subjects as if they were the best of friends.
That's because they are.
Barbara Kline, 52, and Kathy Bernard, 51, met almost 20 years ago when they returned with their families from overseas international development jobs and "landed in this land called Reston, in which we felt like aliens," Barb says. They wondered about finding activities to do with their kids (each has two daughters about the same age), so they created a local cable television show for Washington area parents called "Our Kids." "It was great fun," Barb says. "It lasted about a year. And then Kathy moved to the Eastern Shore. And I'm still not over it."
The women stayed in touch. When their youngest daughters went off to college, Kathy, who was then working in real estate, was a basket case. After dropping off her daughter, she cried through several states before deciding: "You know what? This is a new adventure and you've just got to embrace it," she recalls. "So I called Barb" and told her they needed to cook up a new activity.
Meanwhile Barb, who is in the education field, was perfectly happy being an empty nester, lazing on her new couch and watching pay-per-view television. At first she thought the concept was just "another crazy idea of Kathy's," she says. But as they began blogging on subjects such as empty nests, technological challenges and ailing parents (both women had recently lost their mothers), they say they found there was a hunger for such a dialogue.
With their different personalities and perspectives -- Kathy once made homemade marshmallows, which left Barb aghast because you can buy them in a bag for about 99 cents -- radio seemed to be the perfect forum. The friends found like-minded boomers at the Easton radio station (motto: "Today's Hits and Yesterday's Favorites") near Kathy's home, and at Shore Health System, their first sponsor. "We were talking about menopause within five minutes," Barb cracks.
They named the show "2BoomerBabes," wrote a theme song whose refrain goes "2BoomerBabes, 2BoomerBabes/Who says it's a crisis when you're middle-aged," and launched the show in March with a program on folklore and sex. They earn more than $3,000 a month from sponsorships and spend about $900 monthly for expenses such as studio time and Web site maintenance.
They don't always agree on topics. When Kathy suggested doing a show on the financial meltdown because "we don't want everyone to think we're bimbos," Barb thought it would be boring. But she now acknowledges it was one of their best episodes. "There are so many things that happen in middle age that I don't think people are prepared for," Barb says. Yet "we always try to be upbeat," Kathy says.
They've been surprised by their fan base, which turns out to include Kathy's gardener and butcher, plus customers in an Annapolis Starbucks, where they often get together. Barb, who now lives in Great Falls, makes the trek to Easton for the tapings. The show can be heard in the Washington area, is rerun on Saturday mornings and is available via podcast on their Web site and through iTunes.
At this point, the babes are concentrating on getting more sponsors, ideally some national ones. Says Kathy: "I think we do look at this as an adventure, however long it lasts. We laugh about when we're 85 and laying on our lounge chair in Miami Beach. We're just going to look back on this fun time we had together and laugh."