focused on a pair of websites,
, which ask radio fans to share their listening habits in order to improve stations and win prizes -- yet they don't reveal who's behind the questions or state up-front precisely what rewards might await. One listener reported hearing advertisements for the sites on the Fox, a Clear Channel-owned classic-rock station at 103.5 FM.
Since then, another radio buff went to the trouble of filling out the survey and sending a link to the thank-you page that popped up shortly thereafter. And surprise, surprise: It has the Fox's paw prints all over it.
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Here's the full text, complete with assorted errors:
WE GOT YOUR VOTE!
Thanks for participating and helping improve Denver Radio. Now we invite you to test out one Denver radio station and tell us what you think.
We have assigned you to listen to 103.5 KRFX The Fox
Tune in several times during the next 6 weeks. In about that time we will send you a follow-up survey to see what you think about their dj's, music, news and information.
Survey participants also have a chance at collecting $1,000 for their efforts. We will randomly pick three people at the end of the survey period and send each of them $1,000 for their efforts.
Here's how it works:
Set your radio dial to 103.5 The Fox Starting right now listen as much as you can over the next six weeks. When you receive you your follow-up survey, submit it and wait to be contacted. It's that simple, and your odds are really good too because only VOTERS are qualified to win. The Fox wants to know what you think of their station and personalities. Your opinion, and those of all VOTERS, will make a difference.
If you would like to contact us about the results of this survey or obtain the winner list, please let us know at Results@RadioVote.com .
Thanks again, now here's link to The Fox www.TheFox.com
Or start listening right now on your computer: LISTEN NOW
Your Friends at Radio Vote
An information box on the original sites informs participants that they will be "asked to test one radio station over the next few weeks." Turns out that one station just happens to be the Fox, no matter what. The aforementioned radio buff reveals that he filled out the survey several times with bogus info, and each time, he was told to listen to the Fox. The presence of the Fox link and the live-stream button, reproduced above, provides two more bits of evidence that there's nothing random about the assignment.
Why wouldn't the folks at the Fox simply inform people what they want, rather than pretending to be an objective third party that's only interested in improving Denver radio in general instead of one outlet in particular? Maybe they're hoping ratings will go up if oodles of survey participants follow the anonymous orders and start compulsively tuning in the Fox for the next six weeks. To amend the famous phrase that may or may not have been uttered by P.T. Barnum: There's a sucker born every minute -- and a lot of them spend their days online. -- Michael Roberts