Make A.I. Your Coworker Instead Of Your Replacement

There are two distinct camps forming in our industry, those who despise A.I. and want nothing to do with it and those who are excited about A.I. I’m in the latter camp, however I am concerned for how it will impact our industries most precious resource, local employees. I also worry that while further automating our radio stations may be a good short-term solution for struggling broadcasters, it’s likely a bad long-term solution collectively for our entire industry. That why I strongly encourage all radio employees to embrace A.I. now and make it their coworker so it doesn’t end up being their replacement. Not doing so could have dire consequences as this technology advances faster than anyone anticipated. Here are some of the employees in immediate danger if they don’t learn to make A.I. work for them.

Any on-air talent that rips and reads from a prep service without adding anything to personalize and localize their content is doomed. It doesn’t matter how good their voices are or how natural their delivery is, and I say this as a guy who’s proud of both his pipes and delivery. On air personalities who don’t add to their content add very little value to their stations, so most groups have slashed their pay so much that many have already left the industry. The second A.I. voices sound natural enough to pass off as a real radio on-air talent, any remaining rip and read DJs will be let go across the board.

However, the technology won’t stop there. Even good talent who truly are on-air personalities that add to their content with their own angles and a couple sellable daily features aren’t safe if they refuse to participate in creating digital content. Sadly, there are still plenty of talent who believe all of the digital stuff should be left to someone else in the building so they can solely focus on the on-air product. That works for a handful of the big, syndicated shows, but in truth a lot of those big names do more behind the scenes than people realize. Plus, none of them started out with an enormous staff to handle all of their social and web content. Initially, they had to do most of those tasks themselves before they got big enough to delegate it. Ironically, talent starting off now can replicate that large staff by using A.I. technology to help them write, record and produce more daily content. Talent that don’t participate in digital won’t make it through the end of this year.

What’s left of our admin staffs are in danger of being paired down even further soon because of A.I. technology regardless of what department they work in. However, employees who familiarize themselves with the technology so they know it better than their bosses will be safe for years to come. Long term, even middle managers, production, marketing, and sales people should be concerned. All of those positions will eventually be scaled back. The strongest handful of each will be supplemented by A.I. to make them more efficient, but luckily there’s still plenty of time for these employees to learn to use the technology.

To be clear, I’m not saying any of these things are good ideas. Like I said at the top, I think local employees are our strongest resource and our best protection against digital only competitors. That’s because local revenue is declining slower than national revenue and getting a large slice of that local revenue requires local employees. So, I’m writing this to warn people who truly love radio and want to stay in this industry going forward and are willing to put in the work to do so. At TAB this year in Austin I heard a great line from another presenter second hand because our panels were happening at the same time. She said, ‘Make A.I. work for you or you’ll work for A.I.’ That statement sums it up perfectly. I wish I’d caught her name so I could credit her for it, but unfortunately I’d had an old fashioned or two (or three) and the details are a little fuzzy. But she’s right. Virtually all of us are in danger of being replaced by A.I., but the last ones standing will most certainly be the ones who embrace the technology and learn to make it work for them.

One very creative and radio specific use of this emerging technology I’ve been very impressed with is Tracy Johnson’s new A.I. powered prep service, Radio Content Pro. They spent a year getting the prompts right and it shows. It’s unlike anything I’ve seen so far. Even though it just launched, I’ve had a couple clients sign up for it already and it’s been an absolute game changer for them. Here’s my affiliate link in case you want to check it out.

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