RadioTech

My AI nightmares are coming true. Radio people: Be very, very afraid for your jobs.

[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]

Back in the summer of 2011, I met Denise. She seemed nice enough but the more I got to know her, the less I liked her.

Denise was not a real person. She was a “virtual DJ” at a community radio station in Texas. No flesh and blood. No actual personality. No independent thought. For $200, the program director bought some software that was a (un)reasonable facsimile of a live radio announcer. Denise still required human input for her to work — this was 12 years ago, after all — but the idea of a computer program replacing a human DJ was horrifying to me and others in the media business.

Consultant Dave Ramsey wrote this at the time, pondering the importance of the DJ’s role on the radio.

“No jock who adds significant value to the radio experience need fear ‘Denise.’  She will always be a wooden Pinnochio in a world of real boys. 

“However, any jock whose contribution to the station is indifferent from ‘chatter’ — any jock who is more of an obstacle to giving listeners what they want than an asset in providing the kind of relevance and spontaneous joy great jocks have always been famous for — those DJ’s are no better and certainly more expensive than ‘Denise.’

“In other words, if a jock can be replaced by ‘Denise’ with no fallout to the station in terms of ratings, revenue, or audience and advertiser satisfaction, then that jock can and should be replaced.”

Yeah? Keep reading. You’ll see why the latest developments are freaking me out. Meanwhile, The Simpsons predicted this years ago.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38398 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “My AI nightmares are coming true. Radio people: Be very, very afraid for your jobs.

  • Sadly, this should surprise NO ONE!!!

    Syndicated radio was the start, then voice tracking, then this, the field is going to be just like telephone operators in 10 years.

    Reply

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