August 9, 2000 17:02

OUR RADIO RUCKS!

[b]nme.com[/b] looks at the lengths fans are going to to get their favourite bands played on the radio...

OUR RADIO RUCKS!
Listeners to BBC RADIO 1'S EVENING SESSION with STEVE LAMACQ have told nme.com how they have attempted to rig an online voting system in order to gain extra airplay for their favourite bands.

The latest band to have their ratings boosted in the weekly Buzz Chart by over-eager fans is Hefner, whose new single 'Good Fruit' was disqualified from the vote last week after staff spotted it had jumped in popularity by over 400% in minutes.

Throughout each week, fans can visit the radio one website www.bbc.co.uk/radio1 and chose from ten tracks displayed on the Buzz Chart. The most popular song is then played on the Thursday night show.

A fan of another Buzz Chart band who attempted to bolster his favourites' position recently has told nme.com that the procedure was easy to manipulate using "a bit of relatively basic JavaScript Web programming". It meant he could suddenly place "thirty or forty votes a minute". Working along with other fans of the band around the world, they clocked up a staggering 28,000 votes - bands without such ardent support are lucky to register 100 votes. During that week another single registered 35,000 votes and alarm bells rang at Radio 1, who reset the voting system.

A spokesperson for the Evening Session told nme.com: "We are vigilant about watching the Buzz Chart, and we have noticed clear incidents of irregular voting patterns. For the sake of fair play we excluded the band involved that week though we have tried to include them again at a later date."

She added: "We don't think that these block votes come from any one company associated with the bands themselves, but just over-enthusiastic fans. We are working really hard to defend the system against these cheats and we do reckon we'd sussed them out every time so far."

However the fans remain unbowed. One supporter of Utah Saints, who had used the block-voting method, said: "'Rigging the Buzz Chart ended up being more by accident than by design; the principle was that I wanted the band to win, to get a little modicum of publicity (one play!), to feel vindicated, for whatever reason, that I was a fan of a band who were popular and up-and-coming.

"The point was never to win-by-miles, the principle was just to come first by a few votes, to hear the song on the radio and think 'I helped', not 'I corrupted the system'."

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