'Hannah Montana' Star Kicks off Concert Tour Miley Cyrus, the 14-year-old who plays Hannah Montana on the Emmy award-nominated show of the same name, stars as the daughter of a country singer who moonlights as a kid rocker. Her 54-date national tour, which sold out four minutes after it went on sale, kicks off in St. Louis.
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'Hannah Montana' Star Kicks off Concert Tour

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'Hannah Montana' Star Kicks off Concert Tour

'Hannah Montana' Star Kicks off Concert Tour

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DEBORAH AMOS, Host:

Unidentified Man #4 You're pretty.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHOW, "HANNAH MONTANA")

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

AMOS: From member station WPLN in Nashville, Blake Farmer reports.

BLAKE FARMER: Unidentified Man #5: Yeah, yeah, funny story.

(SOUNDBITE OF SHOW, "HANNAH MONTANA")

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

I: I can't believe how many hits you've written.

FARMER: So how many times you think you have seen this one?

MADELEINE BIRKHEART: Three or four.

ANNIE GRACE NEDERVILLE: We were sitting here one night and we watched the same episode like 12 times.

BIRKHEART: Well, yeah, it's true.

FARMER: The show first aired last year, and it's been runaway hit. "Hannah Montana"'s popularity withstood a test in August when tickets went on sale for her 54-day concert tour. Hundreds of thousands of tickets sold out in minutes. Disney priced seats reasonably, with the most expensive tickets going for less than $70. Scalpers gobbled them up. Most of the real fans who got tickets did it the old fashion way - waiting in line at the box office. These best friends and their mothers were poised with phones and computers waiting.

BIRKHEART: I had the home phone. She had the cell phone. And then...

GRACE NEDERVILLE: And then Will also had his laptop.

BIRKHEART: Will have his laptop and then Laurie(ph) had her laptop.

FARMER: Madeleine says they couldn't get through to Ticketmaster to buy tickets for the Nashville show or any other city. The mom-and-daughter team had already tried to work the system by joining the "Hannah Montana" fan club to get tickets early. Deciding those were nosebleed seats, they held out. Now Laura Birkheart and Laurie Nederville, feeling the pressure from their young girls, have turned to the ticket brokers.

LAURA BIRKHEART: And found four seats on the top row.

LAURIE NEDERVILLE: So much worse than the original ones.

BIRKHEART: Yeah.

GRACE NEDERVILLE: Suckers written on our forehead.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

FARMER: Two hundred dollars a piece. Seats near the stage were fetching upwards of $2,000 on ticket-reseller sites, which spurred law enforcement to get involved. At least four states attorneys general thought scalpers abused the system, including Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon. Spokesman Scott Holste says ticket brokers use software that pushes them to the front of the line.

SCOTT HOLSTE: They are able to snatch up large amount of tickets. They are not available to the general public except at these greatly inflated prices.

FARMER: Ticketmaster spokesman Joe Freeman says even with sophisticated safeguards, the company has little control what happens once tickets hit the Web. That defense hasn't stopped parents from filling his voicemail with complaints.

JOE FREEMAN: This has been an absolute phenomenon, and folks here who have been doing this a lot longer than me are saying they haven't seen anything like this in decades.

FARMER: The demand, says marketing consultant Alycia De Mesa, reinforces that Disney knows the recipe for baking up a teen pop star. But she says it also proves the power so-called tweens have over what their parents buy these days.

ALYCIA DE MESA: It's a segment of the market that has so much loyalty to a brand once they have established a relationship with it. And in the branding world, in the marketing world, that's like the Holy Grail.

FARMER: As for Madeleine Birkheart, who will be singing with Hannah Montana from the back row of Nashville Center...

BIRKHEART: Yeah, we'll definitely use binoculars, so...

FARMER: For NPR News, I'm Blake Farmer in Nashville.

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