The radio industry is buzzing about AI. Some love it, others are confused, many are intrigued, and some hate it. There’s a lot of love and fear about AI, but it’s here to stay, and the sooner you figure out how to use it, the greater your advantage.

While helping develop Radio Content Pro, the AI-driven new service for radio, I talked to dozens (hundreds?) of broadcasters, and there was a lot of FUD: Fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Some have tried it but soon gave up. Others are skeptical and refuse to start. Each week, more people begin to play with artificial intelligence, but there’s still a general lack of activity because of a lack of understanding.

Recently, I spoke with several managers, programmers, and personalities to measure their emotions about using AI on their stations. I tried to avoid the highly polarizing topic of the potential for AI voices to replace live personalities, though many brought it up. Those discussions reminded me of voice-tracking’s controversial (and equally scorned) introduction. But let’s kick that down the road for a future conversation.

Here are some things broadcasters love and fear about AI, with recommendations for each.

Fear About AI: Confusion

This is the most common reaction. Even those who understand the potential and are well-read on recent developments in Artificial Intelligence have difficulty keeping up with the constant improvements and innovations.

Many are paralyzed by the overwhelming (and rapidly expanding) options. Some lack the confidence to try something new and explain it to their team, while others don’t understand technical terms and what it means.

Among those who have ventured into using AI on their stations, a few gave up, concluding it’s “not ready for prime time,” as one personality put it. That may be true sometimes, but there’s wisdom in the old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out.” AI bots don’t read your mind. At least not yet, though Elon Musk’s Neuralink technology is fascinating. AI has to be trained to work for you, and that takes time, experimentation, and thought, a commodity in short supply at today’s busy radio stations.

Recommendation: Use Chat GPT, Anthropic’s Claude, or Microsoft’s CoPilot to start understanding how AI works. Pro Tip: The paid versions are inexpensive and much more powerful. You will get far greater results.

Love And Fear About AI: Great Results, But Getting Lazy

A highly successful show host in a Top 10 market told me he loves AI and is getting great results writing scenarios for their daily relationship segment. They’re also using it to generate text for listener testimonials about the show, They currently have human voices read the scripts, but are looking into AI voices.

Side Note: Reel World and Benztown offer AI voices for listener testimonials. Eleven Labs is also a great resource if you want to do it yourself.

However, he sees signs of cast members relying on it too much, and there are signs of “mailing it in” because they count on AI to do their job for them. His concern is that so much of the show’s success has been attention to detail when turning out a show each day. He wants to use it as a tool, not a shortcut. And that’s precisely how AI should be used.

I get this. This host has optimized his prompts to be a powerful tool. Still, many personalities and programmers will misuse it, just as broadcasters have used voice-tracking, automation systems, and music scheduling software as shortcuts rather than instruments for growth.

Recommendation: Think of it like this: A fine-tuned automation system is impressive. It will make your station sound consistently better than most human board operators. It increases efficiency, freeing talents to invest time in creativity and plan and prepare segments. But if you watch the vast majority of shows perform, they let the automation “do its thing” while they watch videos on YouTube, text friends, or browse social media. Appropriately used (fine-tuned, enhanced, and managed), AI can help you be great. Use it as an assistant, not a shortcut.

Fear: There’s No Humanity:

A programmer has been trying hard to use AI to write promotional announcements, recorded liners for his voice talent, and as a guide for personalities to craft new ways to promote the station. He loves the idea, but has concluded that content written by AI is mechanical, lacks the human “touch,” and he can always tell when Chat GPT wrote it.

He gave up on the idea because it took too much time and didn’t deliver satisfactory results.

Having the luxury of working with WP Media developers to create Radio Content Pro, I knew that the solution was to write better prompts, so I challenged him with a test.

Using the station’s positioning statement, their contest for concert ticket giveaways, and 25 of their best-testing songs, I sent 25 liners written in the character style of his afternoon show. Each was creative and unique, and he loved them so much that he wanted to create a template for his talent to plug into their show and replicate the output.

Then I told him that Chat GPT wrote them for me. He didn’t believe me, so I sent the transcript of the dialogue. I described the format, target audience, station attitude, defined the character “voice”, and the personality’s name and character traits. Then, I provided three examples of good liners so the AI would clearly understand what I wanted. The instructions were to create 40 liners. I eliminated 15 that were weak. The final step was editing the remaining 25 to improve them. He wanted to know why the results were so much better.

Recommendation: Three things

First, he was using Chat GPT 3.5. That is good, but Chat GPT 4 is head and shoulders better. As mentioned earlier, pay for the upgrade.

Second, you must tell AI exactly what you want and don’t want in the prompt. I defined the character traits of the personality, relayed attributes of the “voice” and style I wanted, and provided three excellent examples as a model. This takes more time (and planning), but once it’s working, the prompt can be used repeatedly. Prompts should be concise and clear but don’t have to be short. Some of my prompts are over 500 words in order to capture the character and personality (humanity) desired.

Third, AI can do the heavy lifting, but the most significant benefit is inspiring creativity. The liners weren’t “copy, paste, and use.” Left to its own interpretation, AI wants to insert cheesy “radio terms” like “Hey, all you out there, listen up.” They must be curated and fine-tuned. You manage software to create a better music log but still adjust it to make it perfect.

By the way, you can eliminate the cheesy language by instructing the AI what you want.

Love: A Whole New World

Finally, I found a programmer with a practical, positive attitude toward AI. She uses it regularly and has many ideas for improving her workflow. Some of what she wants to do isn’t easy, but it’s only a matter of time before it becomes reality.

One of her most exciting ideas is to create a detailed knowledge base of music and pop culture resources and then train a Chatbot to access it instantly. Here’s how she hopes to use it:

Content: A resource for personalities to get on-air content. They could type (or speak) a question, and the bot would deliver information that can be crafted into talk breaks. Imagine telling a trained Chatbot, “I need something interesting to say about “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen. Give me three ideas.

For Listeners: A pop culture Chatbot for the station website, a tool for listeners to ask questions or explore ideas for their playlists, and a complete guide to everything on the station site. Imagine a user asking the bot, “Play this morning’s audio of Second Date Update for me.”

Games: She wants to train the AI to produce trivia questions based on the data in the knowledge base for their daily trivia game. When it’s fine-tuned, she plans to use it during automated hours on weekends with an AI voice to ask a multiple-choice question into a stop set, with the answer and the song coming out.

Some of those things are possible now with easily accessible and affordable tools.

Recommendation: Imagine the possibilities, then study the free online resources to make it happen. Invest the time to study AI resources and you’ll be on the path to becoming a power user in no time.

Conclusion: There’s Plenty To Love and Fear About AI

The exciting thing is that we’re in the first inning of this ballgame. AI is about to invade every aspect of our lives. Here’s how you can get started:

Start Using a GPT like Claude, CoPilot, or Chat GPT. Experiment to write better prompts. You can even ask the AI how to improve your prompts. When the output is disappointing, provide feedback. The AI has no feelings! Tell it how you want it to improve.

Subscribe: Jacobs Media’s Chris Brunt has launched an excellent weekly newsletter called AI Edge for radio stations about AI. Get details and sign up for it here:

Get Radio Content Pro: RCP uses sophisticated AI bots to work in the background and do most of the heavy lifting for you. The RCP bots find relevant content, curate it, and make it instantly available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Learn more and get a free three-day trial here.

AI will change the way you work, just as personal computers and the Internet transformed the world. There is a lot of love and fear about AI, and I get it. We always fear the unknown. Change is hard, but try to embrace it and look forward to the possibilities. These are exciting times!

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