I don’t like steering away from polarizing topics and I’ve certainly written blogs over the past few years that have split the room and ruffled some feathers. However, I’ve held off on writing about this particular topic because I know it’s a VERY touchy subject with many of my fellow radio people. But, as someone who’s paid to consult and advise clients on all things radio and digital, I would be derelict in my duty if I didn’t stay up on what’s happening in the world of artificial intelligence and think about ways it should and shouldn’t be used in our industry. It never ends well when we put our heads in the sand and ignore emerging technologies and I firmly believe most radio stations will be incorporating AI in multiple forms within the very near future. There are already a few ways I’ve suggested for my existing clients to go ahead and start using it and there are several other additional applications for AI just around the corner.
Thanks to recent and drastic evolutions in AI technology, I’m already recommending that on-air personalities find ways to incorporate some of the more natural sounding AI voices into their shows. Team shows can use it as a third, fourth or fifth voice on their show or a way to get into or add to existing features/benchmarks/bits. I coach a few shows that are using it to do everything from dad jokes to Dear Abby style phone topics where the voice admits it’s a robot that wants to learn about humans by asking relationship questions. Solo shows can even use it as a defacto co-host for breaks that would work better with two people and it’s getting close to the point where it could be used as a ringer for calls. The one I’ve been recommending is ElevenLabs because they have a free trial that allows downloads, multiple voices and additional paid options with a lot more voices. I have no association or partnership with ElevenLabs, I just like their technology. After hearing it being used on a podcast, I logged in and loaded some prep from the prep service I used to run, added a little additional punctuation in the right places and was amazed at how natural it sounded delivering a joke. To be clear, if it were used as a solo host it’s not currently better than anything other than a bad DJ and that’s with me writing the copy. It still sounds somewhat robotic at times and all the AI being used for video still looks unnatural to me, but that technology is only going to improve rapidly. Chat GPT for instance went from failing the bar to passing it within months. It’s hard to imagine where all of this will be a year, or even six months, from now.
It also already makes sense for radio to immediately incorporate AI like a lot of other industries, for helping us write all sorts of copy. In my experience it’s not fully copy/paste ready to write web blogs and social posts for radio, or certainly anything as specific as imaging, promos, sales presentations or commercials. But, it’s already worth utilizing as idea starters for all of those things and can sometimes get close enough to use the bulk of the copy with a few minor tweaks. Lack of copywriters is a major deficiency at many radio groups. Over the years I’ve recommended multiple remedies for this, hiring my company to help for one and/or using outside freelance writers through sites like Fiverr and Freelancer. I now believe AI is an additional option for addressing that copywriting deficiency and it’s only going to get better.
Yes, I’m well aware that some people reading this are thinking ‘hey that’s cheating’ and I imagine those are the same people who think it’s cheating to use ringers to get new phone segments, features or contests going (which most stations/shows have been doing since the dawn of time), cheating to ever use paid/unpaid actors to do the same (something many of the big shows do regularly), cheating to be anything other than your one hundred percent true/authentic self on the air (which only works for a very select few types of on-air personalities) and cheating to pre-plan and script some of the breaks on team shows (which most successful shows also do). But, with as short staffed as virtually all radio groups are now, there’s ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with using technology to help us work more efficiently and if we don’t utilize it and our competitors (inside and outside of the industry) do, we’ll fall even further behind than we already are.
What do you think? Agree or disagree? Let me know below in the comments or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.
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