America’s most-read magazine? DC-based AARP

D.C.-based AARP has been publishing its magazine for members since its founding in 1958, and it is the most-read magazine in America.

AARP the Magazine has hit a record 38.7 million readers this year. According to MRI-Simons’ most recent data, 91% of readers read their issues at home versus the industry average of 53%.

The magazine’s covers often feature A-list Hollywood celebrities (this month’s cover is Helen Mirren). And they jump at the opportunity.

“When we call them and they have a project that they want to talk about, they drool. We are talking directly to people who buy movie tickets and stream movies. We have a good relationship with Hollywood, because they know that we deliver, in the parlance of Hollywood, butts into seats,” said AARP editor-in-chief Bob Love.

Helen Mirren on the cover of AARP magazine. (Courtesy AARP)

AARP dropped “retirement” from its official name years ago. You do not have to be over 50 to join AARP either.

“Once you have a membership card and a membership number, nobody is checking your age like when we used to buy beer down at the deli,” Love said.

In fact, a lot of AARP’s members are not at or close to retirement age.

“We added, just this year, 200,000 people under the age of 50, largely from TikTok. They are all about the discounts, the millennials,” Love said.

There are actually three versions of the AARP magazine; one for readers 50 to 59 years old, one for those 60 to 69 and one for those 70-plus.

In addition to its celebrity cover stories, the magazine includes health and fitness features, financial guidance, consumer information and book and movie reviews.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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