Beethoven.com Hangs Tough
by James Careless
Beethoven.com bills itself as "The World's Classical Music Station." However, perhaps a more appropriate title would be "Dot.com Crash Survivor."
The site has managed to stay afloat since 1999, when it first became a commercial Internet radio station. Today, this classical music Webcaster is breaking even through a combination of smart budgeting, canny ad deals and persistence.
"We're just waiting for advertisers to discover Internet radio the way they discovered terrestrial radio 70 years ago," said Alan Tolz, group vice president of Marlin Broadcasting, which owns Beethoven.com. "We don't know when this is going to happen, but at least we have the staying power to wait."
Beethoven.com was originally the Web site for Miami classical music station WTMI(FM). However, by the time Marlin Broadcasting sold WTMI to Cox Radio in 2000, Beethoven.com had evolved into a bona fide Internet radio station, one with its own programming, online identity and Web-based ad sales.
This said, Marlin Broadcasting's managers knew the market was not ready to support commercial Webcasting; especially after the dot.com crash in 2000. This is why they moved Beethoven.com's operations to Hartford, Conn., not far from where Marlin owned WCCC(AM) and WCCC(FM). Then, in a "man bites dog" reverse, the AM was renamed WTMI and turned into a terrestrial rebroadcaster of Beethoven.com's Internet feed.
"Had we not found a way to link Beethoven.com to a terrestrial radio station, we would have had to run it with a skeleton crew," said Tolz. "However, by rebroadcasting our Web feed over WTMI(AM)'s 500-watt signal, we could use the same staff to program the site and the station.
"Since WCCC(AM) had been doing little more than relaying WCCC(FM) at the time, we didn't lose anything by making this switch. In fact, we've been able to pick up some new advertisers, because West Hartford is home to some affluent communities that belong to the classical music demographic."
... WTMI Signs On: March, 1971 - South Florida
I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command I will never surrender my men while they still have the means to resist.