Bring on the AI Talent

 In Blog

I recently took a Lyft in San Francisco and the radio was on in the car. For the whole drive, the on-air host talked about one thing and one thing only: Disneyland.

Between songs it was 40+ minutes of non-stop Disneyland hype: “Your chance to score those Disneyland tickets is just around the corner,” and so on. No content. No entertainment. And I never did hear her give away any tickets.

As a lifelong advocate for personality radio and killer content, I am disappointed when I hear station management reduce radio companionship to plugs and promotions.

But a weak programming problem like that may highlight a new solution: I say bring on the artificial intelligence on-air hosts.

The voices in Futuri’s RadioGPT product and Spotify’s DJ feature are impressively real-life. There are some smart ways that technology could be used – and some not-so-smart uses.

AI voices will likely be misused by US radio. You know those radio companies that used voice tracking to reduce headcount, with a tiny number of overworked personalities rushing to record multiple shows a day? They will be the first to go all-in on AI voices.

They will be like a Formula 1 team replacing champion driver Lewis Hamilton with a Tesla “self-driving” system to save money. Crashes and underperformance will ensue. I predict that these companies will fumble AI voice execution and their ratings will decline — a competitive win for the rest of us.

Companies may use AI voices strategically to improve the product and listener experience, resulting in wins.

A good place to start is using robot deejays to reduce the workload of your star on-air talent, freeing them to focus on more entertaining content — the words, ideas, and stories that matter.

Imagine how AI voices could help your team with these duties:

  • Basic commercial copy. Save your human talent for high-dollar endorsements.
  • Giveaways. The voice reading this hour’s generic text-to-win word will not matter to the giveaway hounds. For a fun, interactive game, however, you need a human personality.
  • Event announcements. Reminders to buy tickets to station concerts, announcements for remotes, and local appearances fall under the category of basic commercial copy — see above.
  • “Is there an app for that” content? Sports scores, weather, and traffic.
  • Small signal stations. Think of the many dark AM stations that we could return to the air with AI voices. With restored AM signals replacing dead air, automakers would then have more reasons to keep AM in dashboards.
  • Background music stations. Any station is better with great on-air talent, but if you have to choose which station gets real people, passive AC, and Adult Hits stations audiences won’t mind a robot voice as much as an active, foreground audio consumer.
  • Sponsorships for commercial stations.
  • Underwriting announcements for non-profit stations.

The future of radio and podcasting is in our talent. We know that AI voices will not replace people because they do not have flaws.

Our human quirks and shortcomings are endearing, funny, emotional, relatable, and – so far – cannot be created from computer code.

What is also true is that AI is here to stay. Use it to improve your product and your show will win in the long run.

Photo by Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

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