Why AI Will Never Be Better Than Some On-Air Talent

AI is the main topic of discussion in radio circles lately. Which makes sense. It’s the biggest disruption to our industry in a very long time. So, it’s not surprising that AI is being met with a mixture of excitement, apprehension, and downright fear. While I definitely fall on the side of asking how to use AI to become more efficient and effective rather than worrying about whether it will replace us all, I do understand that the latter is a legitimate concern. Like I’ve mentioned before, AI will absolutely replace on-air talent who are phoning it in, ripping and reading from prep sites without adding anything of their own to personalize and localize it. But, AI will never fully replace on-air personalities who put in the effort to make content their own, here’s why.

Great radio personalities have an ability to connect with their audience on an emotional level that AI will never be able to replicate. Especially if they’ve adapted to do that across all their available platforms, phones, social, web, app and on-site. Although, as the technology progresses and we begin talking to a generation raised by robots that ability to connect emotionally will become less of an advantage. But, some advantage is better than none and regardless of how fast or far the technology advances it won’t out-connect professional broadcast talent. Why? Because a real personality will always be more interesting than a fake one, no matter how intelligently it’s manufactured.

There are, however, a few distinct areas where AI has advantages over all talent. For instance, there won’t be any AI prima-donnas who seemingly live to create drama and require a lot of time and energy to manage. Anyone who’s coached or managed talent has had their daily schedules blown up on multiple occasions to deal with drama created by an on-air personality with the maturity level of a middle-schooler. AI also, of course, won’t show up late and never takes vacation or sick days.

Cost is the biggest advantage most of the c-suite folks are excited about. But, that’s unlikely to be as big of an advantage as they think. There is a LOT of research and development expense associated with getting AI to the point where it’s human-like in very specific ways. Companies will always eat some of that cost initially to entice the market to accept and adapt to the new technology. However, eventually all of that will be passed along to customers driving up their monthly cost. So, there’s a chance this causes a scenario where groups lay off much of their remaining staff to save money for a short while only to end up with a balance sheet that’s eerily similar despite employing fewer people a year or two down the road.

One real-world, recent example of this is people who cut the cord on cable. Those early adopters did save a hundred bucks per month for a year or two. But, then the fees increased and they slowly had to add additional streaming services to watch all the shows they wanted. So, today many of them are spending even more money per month if they took the time to add all of it together. Because the truth is, someone had to pay to create all of that content we’re consuming and it’s always eventually passed along to consumers in the form of monthly fees and ads within content.

Finally, there’s one more x-factor we should all consider with AI. While it’s unlikely to happen soon, and may never happen in some countries, at any moment laws could catch up to the technology and change things overnight pulling the rug out from under broadcasters leaning heavily on AI.

What do you think? Comment below or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.

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