Only a few minutes into a Zoom call and the Camp Codger guys are having what they call a “codger moment.”
Richard Kipling, a retired Los Angeles Times journalist and one third of the codgers in the new Camp Codger podcast, appears to be speaking, but nobody can hear him.
“Turn your mic on,” patiently repeat Gary Ebersole and Randy Schultz, the other two-thirds of the codgers.
And then Kipling proceeds to give his mates a case of motion sickness by climbing the stairs while carrying his laptop.
Ebersole, 74, shrugs it off: “Codger moments happen.”
Those blips come in handy for the three seniors, who use them as fodder for the weekly 20-minute podcast they started in August. “Camp Codger” can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google, Spotify, Amazon and other major podcast services, as well as online at campcodger.com.
The idea to start a podcast aimed at people 65 and older came over beers and camaraderie, when Ebersole, who spent more than three decades in the high-tech industry in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, and Kipling, who worked at the L.A. Times for almost three decades, got together in Santa Fe, where they now live.
“Gary and I go out once or twice a week,” said Kipling, 78. “And most of the things we talked about had to do with our age. This stuff is so common to old men, old codgers, that we thought we ought to make a podcast.”
The two men began working on a plan and eventually invited Schultz, the youngest codger at 68, who spent most of his professional career in marketing and communications in the home and garden industry, to join from Colorado Springs. (Schultz and Ebersole first met through their wives when Schultz lived in Santa Fe before moving to the Springs.)
They liked the idea of holding a summer camp for older folks and the image of three old guys sitting in rocking chairs and talking, thus the pod’s title and subtitle: “Rocking-Chair Wisdom From Three Old Guys: A podcast for people in their golden years.” They polished it off with a theme song recognizable to many from their era — an instrumental version of Allan Sherman’s 1963 hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh (A Letter From Camp).”
As they embarked on their new endeavor, they also discovered a dearth of podcasts for their target market.
“There are more than 54 million people in America over 65,” Ebersole said. “We discovered we’re one of a few podcasts done by and for old people. So not only do we have a huge potential audience, but an enormous range of topics.”
The trio have tackled subjects such as surviving the holidays, retirement communities, habits of old folks, how to make friends as seniors, and whether it’s possible to learn new things as you age.
Also, they like a good organ recital conversation, as in how long before someone mentions their ills and pills.
“We were in denial for the longest time,” Ebersole said. “You wake up in your mid-60s and you realize the next thing up is the 70s and guess what? We’re old now.”
Nobody understands what getting older is like until they actually do it, Ebersole realized after listening to young people talk about older people. And the codgers want those younger folks to know — there are still good times ahead and perks to aging.
“You don’t have to care anymore,” Ebersole said. “You can care about your family, but we could stop doing the podcast tomorrow and not care. The world isn’t going to end.”
For Schultz, getting older means doing exactly what he wants.
“There has to be some reason to get up in the morning,” he said. “This podcast is the perfect thing to put on my list of things to do.”
And Kipling is ever pragmatic.
“Growing older physiologically isn’t a great deal. I’m not in love with it,” he said. “But having had a professional life and colleagues — I’m done with it. I don’t want to do it again. It caused a lot of stress and joy and I’m happy to be without it. It clears the decks when you’re retired. You get to spend your life doing what you want.”
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