AI Hosts Coming to Radio… Is TV Next?





On Tuesday, live radio station 95.5 located in Portland, Oregon, will broadcast an artificial intelligence version of its mid-day host Ashley Elzinga. The station will use Futuri Media’s RadioGPT to create an “AI Ashley” daily to cover trending news.

“It’s a hybrid situation where we’ll have traditional Ashley on during some segments, and we’ll have AI Ashley on during other segments. In an instance where AI Ashley would be broadcasting, the traditional Ashley might be doing something in the community, managing social posts, or working on digital assets or the other elements that come with the job,” said Phil Becker, Alpha Media’s EVP of Content in a statement released to TechCrunch.

From 10:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m., AI Ashley will broadcast using a GPT-4 generated script featuring a cloned version of her voice. While “traditional Ashley” won’t be completely replaced by the AI technology nor will she receive a pay cut, there is a growing concern throughout the DJ world over what this could mean for job security.

Over the past few years, several radio stations are cutting back on broadcasts as operational costs increase, resorting to adding AI into the mix to offset costs. As reported by TechCrunch, “In 2020, iHeartMedia restructured its organization, laid off hundreds of people nationwide, and invested in artificial intelligence.” Live 95.5 is the first to introduce an AI DJ.

Alpha Media states it will be the exception to the developing trend of replacing talents with AI. The station claims it wants to make Traditional Ashely’s workload more streamlined and is intended as a tool to aid her services.

Traditional Ashley displayed her AI clone on 95.5’s Twitter account, gathering mixed responses from listeners and DJs alike. Though AI Ashley doesn’t quite capture the essence of Traditional Ashely, the clone is eerily convincing.

To eliminate audience confusion over whether they’re listening to the real Ashely or her AI counterpart, AI Ashley will introduce itself as such before each show. Some listeners aren’t vibing with the idea, claiming it’s a disgrace to the profession.

“One of the absolute most important parts of this is that we’re transparent with the listener. It’s not our intent to ever deceive anybody,” said Phil Becker. The RadioGPT scripts will be fact-checked by a team of actual humans before being aired to avoid AI “hallucinations” – aka inaccurate information.

If AI DJs become a popular transition in the radio realm, this could leak over into television broadcasts as well. There has been deep scrutiny by anti-AI groups concerning the potential dangers of using this technology, such as job security, spreading false information, or even potential scenarios where political leaders or other people could be falsely portrayed as making statements.

We’ll have to keep a watchful eye on the tech as it develops and more companies find ways to incorporate its usage.

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