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AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

On Classmates.com, You Can Find Old Friends

Aired April 26, 2002 - 08:48   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: If you were with us yesterday, we told you this is already prom season. After senior proms, of course, come graduation, and then before you know it, reunions. Now in the old days, it was easy to get the kids from the hood together. But in today's mobile society, it is a lot tougher. Enter the Internet, and Web sites like classmates.com, where you can find old friends, and in one case even a musical legacy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER (voice-over): When Paul Simon wrote the words to "Kodochrome," this is the high school he had in mind, literally, Forest Hill High School in Queens, New York. In the 1970s, the schools alumni association disbanded, so when some friends from classes in the 1960s wanted to hold a reunion, they had almost no place to start.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of this was done on the Internet. Classmates was a great thing for me, for this, because what I did was -- I'm a member of classmates, so I can e-mail 20 people a night that there's a reunion. So we e-mailed the whole Forest Hill High School, 1960-'75.

COOPER: This was the reunion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: '67, '68, and definitely '69.

COOPER: More than 500 people from more than a dozen yeas were at the Forest Hills High School classes.

To Elliott Wertheim and John Hartmann, it wasn't the numbers that mattered, however. They hadn't seen each other in more than 30 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My goodness, man, unbelievable.

COOPER: Back in the 1960s, when Forest Hills gave birth to groups like Simon & Garfunkel and The Ramones, Wertheim and Hartmann had a band of their own, The Brigands. It was the era of The Beatles. Thousands of garage bands wanted to be just like the fab four. But unlike most of them, the Brigands actually got a one-shot deal with Epic Records. The A side of The Brigands record, "I'm a Patient Man," was pick hit of the week on one radio station in Eerie, Pennsylvania. But that was about it. And that for the Brigands was all they wrote, until... JOHN HARTMANN, LEAD SINGER, THE BRIGANDS: My son is a singer and actor, and he, through some connections in show business, found out that the record is actually being played across the United States.

COOPER: In fact, the b side song on that 45, "Would I Still Be Her Big Man" was included on some major rock 'n' roll compilations, in the company of such groups as The Blues Magoos, The Kingsmen and the Strawberry Alarm Clock.

ELLIOT WERTHEIM, BASS GUITARIST, THE BRIGANDS: To find out that we're on these compilation discs and that they view us as representative of a particular era, like the pyschadelic era, and to select us from what I have to believe are thousands of possibilities of groups besides the well known groups to me is outrageous. I don't even understand why or how it happened.

In fact, the discographies that mention The Brigands, like this one, for The Nuggets album, say -- quote -- "Other than a probably East Coast origin, nothing is known about The Brigands."

HARTMANN: I just thought it was very cool out of all these cuts on these compilations, we were one of the few whose personnel was unknown. In fab, they postulated that we may be from Forest Hills or may be from Ohio. I don't know where they got that.

COOPER: Seeing each other after all these years was great. Finding out about the record made it even better.

WERTHEIM: We're just happy really, in some way having been selected to be a piece of history.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: And the Forest Hill High School reunion is one of 22,000 that classmates.com has helped organize this year alone. Mark Schutzler is the president of classmates.com. He joins us now from Los Angeles.

So how does your service work?

MARK SCHUTZLER, PRESIDENT, CLASSMATES.COM: Well, people come to the Web site to literally try to find someone that they're looking for. They register with the site, and then once they get into the site, they see the list of the names of people that they've completely forgotten about. They end up connecting with those as well.

COOPER: And you've organized 22,000 reunions this year alone. That's pretty remarkable.

SCHUTZLER: It is remarkable. Last year, we did 35,000. This year, as you say, we've already done 22,000. We're on track to do over 80,000 this year based on the trends we've seen in the past.

COOPER: Why do you think it is your site is so popular?

SCHUTZLER: Well, when people get to be about 35 years old, they look up into the rear view mirror of their life and they realize that life is much more than just an accumulation of accomplishments. It's mostly about relationships. They begin to become nostalgic, typically for a high school buddy or a college roommate, or somebody they served in the military with.

COOPER: Your Web site is one of the few that is actually profitable, I think which is a pretty remarkable feat these days. To what do you attribute that?

SCHUTZLER: Well, first of all, we have two revenue streams, unlike typical Web sites. We have both subscription Web sites as well as advertising Web sites. And we've also done a really good job of controlling our costs.

COOPER: How does the consumer have to pay for this information? Do you pay to sign up, or is it paid only when you want to make a contact with somebody?

SCHUTZLER: The Web site itself primarily is free. When you come to the Web site, you can register and you can see almost everything on the site for free. But if you want to communicate with someone else, either by e-mail or one of our message boards, you need to become a paid subscribers, and that's $3 a month.

COOPER: And you have about 25 million paid subscribers?

SCHUTZLER: Actually, it's closer to 30 million total people in the database, a little more than two million paid subscribers.

COOPER: Is it just classmates you can contact, or are there other services you offer as well?

SCHUTZLER: Well, it's classmates within -- when you say classmates, it's within school or it's in the military, or also in the workplace as well.

COOPER: Now, I also understand you just started a service for former colleagues who used to work together, and they can track each other down.

SCHUTZLER: Exactly. We launched about two weeks ago. Classmates launched the workplace directory, which has a listing of over 1.1 million businesses, so you can find your old work buddies as well.

COOPER: Well, Mark Schutzler, president of classmates.com, thanks for being with us this morning. I'll go check on my own class.

Thank you very much.

SCHUTZLER: Thank you.

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together. But in today's mobile society, it is a lot tougher. Enter the Internet, and Web sites like classmates.com, where you can find old friends, and in one case even a musical legacy.>


 
 
 
 


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