Radio and AI

By Andy Beaubien, BPR

One of the hottest topics in the radio business is AI. The subject invokes fear and trepidation in the hearts of many in our business. Will AI replace your breakfast presenters? Highly unlikely. The most practical and productive use of AI will be behind the scenes.

For years, we have been using automated playlist generating software such Selector and Power Gold. Although programs of this type met with resistance when first marketed, they are now an integral part of music programming.

Voice tracking is an accepted system of show production, something which would have been unimaginable a couple of decades ago. Automation has made voice tracking possible.

AI is poised to take show production to a new and more sophisticated level. Programmers will be able to integrate music scheduling, voice tracking and other radio program elements (ads, promos, ID’s, etc.) with a higher level of efficiency and accuracy. Programs across a multi-city network in different time zones will be easier to manage and deliver.

So much for the positive side of AI. On the negative side, AI will never replace radio’s human element. Many studies over the years have shown that listeners tune to radio for companionship. Listeners often develop a bond with their preferred presenters. It is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine such a level of empathy with an AI generated presenter. Studies have shown that listeners are willing to accept AI-generated voices on recorded promos, station ID’s and positioning statements but they clearly draw the line when it comes to program presenters. Whether presenter voices are live or voice tracked, listeners want to be assured that these voices emanate from a real human being.

Imperfections and idiosyncrasies are part of what makes us human. Our ability to differentiate one person from another takes into account not only our similarities but our uniquely different attributes. Speech patterns are filled with intricate tempo and pitch variations as well as accents and idiomatic traits. Our communication skills are tied to a vast range of experience, knowledge, and emotions. We react in real time to changes around us. It is highly unlikely that AI will duplicate this level of complexity in the foreseeable future, if ever.



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