“For the first 20 minutes, it’s very hard to get through (on the phone), and every third one after that is busy,” said Diane Davis, a Kat supporter and family friend who has hosted McPhee voting parties at her Studio City home. “We figured we can dial for two hours straight and get three votes in per minute on cell phones. Plus, we use all five of our land lines.” A recent “McPheever” gathering at the Davis’ home included 75 guests. The two weekly “American Idol” broadcasts draw an average total of 54 million viewers, with about 45 million voting each Tuesday. About half those votes are text-messaged by way of Cingular Wireless, the official telecommunications sponsor of the show. Most “Idol” voters are between ages 18 and 35, and it’s the younger end of the spectrum that uses the text-message voting option, polls show. “For a lot of people older than 25, it’s harder to text-message, even though it’s not really that hard,” said Jamie Davis, 22, of Studio City. “I started out using text messages, but switched to cell phone for my vote because the redial button lets me get more votes in much faster.” While it’s safe to say McPhee is a front-runner, the show does not announce vote tallies for each contestant, only the total number of votes received. Three years ago, only 134,400 votes out of 24 million separated runner-up Clay Aiken and winner Ruben Studdard. “Idol’s” producers warn that while the telephone network is designed to handle huge volumes of calls simultaneously, there may be times when it will not be able to take every call due to the sheer volume. If you call during your voting window but can’t get through to cast your vote, simply try again. Results are announced on Wednesday’s elimination show. But don’t even try to outsmart the network. The show has a system to stop “power dialing,” the practice of generating huge blocks of votes using computer modem enhancements that can place thousands of calls in mere seconds. “We put a load of really expensive equipment in place to phantom these guys out … But the truth of the matter is, in the whole time that we’ve had that apparatus in, not once has it ever been needed to be used, which leads me to believe that the whole (“power dialing”) issue was a prefabrication in the first place,” said show producer Ken Warwick. In Tarzana, Kat supporter Welby says she and her husband use both cell phones and their home’s several land lines to notch up votes for McPhee. “It was nerve-racking at the beginning,” Welby said of her first multi-voting attempts early in the series. “Now, my fingers go back and forth between the buttons and I try to focus on something else at the same time. It’s become kind of addictive. I never thought I’d call in like this for anyone on a TV show. “And I even got my mom to do it. She’s 76 years old and lives near Chicago, but she does the same thing as me every Tuesday night.” [email protected] (818) 713-3676160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals“I felt like a rotten friend when I heard that. So, I really stepped it up.” With “Idol’s” season finale approaching May 24, McPhee – the first Los Angeles native to make it big on the smash hit Fox-TV talent contest – faces off tonight against Taylor Hicks and Elliot Yamin. And L.A. is rooting for her. Signs around town proclaim “Vote for Katharine – Catch the McPheever,” “She’s McPhine” and “McPhee is Our Favorite.” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa even showed up at McPhee’s alma mater, Sherman Oaks’ Notre Dame High School, last week for a pro-Kat rally that was filmed for this week’s “Idol.” The three contestants will perform from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., with voting open from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. So you wanna vote tonight for Sherman Oaks’ own “American Idol” sweetheart Katharine McPhee? Get those dialing digits warmed up. You’ll have a hard time dialing faster than some local supporters who’ve come down with “McPheever.” Since “American Idol” doesn’t limit the number of votes from each viewer, diligent digits can rack up as many as 300 votes during the two-hour polling window. At Kat Pack parties around the area, it’s feasible that thousands of calls and text messages are generated each Tuesday. “I vote for two hours straight,” said Susie Welby, a McPhee supporter and friend of the 22-year-old singer. “The first week, I voted like 20 times, then I talked to a couple who said the two of them voted 600 times each week.
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