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One Year In: What We've Learned About AI for Radio Since Launching AudioAI

As we celebrate the first anniversary of AudioAI, it’s clear: we've ignited a revolution in the radio industry. AudioAI, originally known as RadioGPT, is not just an evolution—it’s a transformative leap that can redefine the art and science of broadcast content.  


The first reaction: fear. 

How many jobs is AI going to eliminate? That was the first question we heard with the release of RadioGPT. The radio industry hasn’t exactly had a track-record of job creation in the last 20+ years. What we’ve witnessed more than anything is that stations are using AudioAI to fill personnel gaps, not replace personnel. 


Revolutionizing, Not Replacing.

The fears of AI replacing human jobs have been unfounded. AudioAI has become a co-creator, enhancing live and local content. We’ve seen dayparts that were previously unmanned, now with personality and local information where human hosts haven’t been on air in years. We’ve seen AI used to create special segments and features that augment human-hosted morning shows.


Over 1 million voice tracks in the first year.

Futuri AudioAI has automatically generated over 1 million voice tracks in its first year. With hundreds of voices in our library, we’ve seen AI generate content in the voice of human clones as well as AI voices. And the content has been about all kinds of things – what’s trending locally, what is the weather looking like, what should I do this weekend, what did I miss on TV last night?


Better coverage, Better Service. 

We’ve seen local weather and news return to stations around the clock where it was once limited to just mornings. We’ve seen clients instantly wow’d by spec spots created right in front of them, when just 18 months ago, they would have had to wait for their turn in an overworked production team’s queue.

 

Local …and live?

Yes, local, because Futuri’s AudioAI is powered by TopicPulse, which provides a real-time view of what’s trending in a local market. TopicPulse takes information from Instagram, Facebook, Twitter(X), and over 250,000 news sources, and it can show what’s currently engaging audiences in a local market. 

Yes, live, because the voice tracks created by AI are generated just seconds before the voice plays on the air. This results in local content that is relevant in this moment.


Spec Spots are Back in a BIG WAY!

In 2023, Futuri launched SpotOn, an AI-enabled service that automatically generates spec spots with scripts, voiceovers, music, and production. In its first six months, SpotOn created over 5,000 spec spots. We saw dramatic results. 

The majority of the first 5,000 spots were for five core radio advertiser categories: Automotive, Retail, Financial Services, QSR, and Travel & Tourism, showing AI's adaptability to established brands and its potential to tap into new markets like travel. 

57% of these spots featured a male voice, with the most common accents being Midwest and Southern USA, Australian, and British. Spanish emerged as the second most popular language, particularly for direct-to-consumer brands and healthcare services, highlighting its appeal to younger, tech-savvy Latino audiences. 

The majority of these commercials were 15s or 30s, saving around 2,000 human hours in production time. 


Automatic Podcasts.

We’ve seen broadcasters automatically generate podcasts using AudioAI about topics they might not have ventured to create before. From recaps of local games to podcasts about bands, local music, and local landmarks, we’re seeing awesome creativity around automatically creating on-demand content for local audiences. 

In 2023, Futuri’s POST podcast system automatically turned broadcast content into podcasts, resulting in over 17 million listeners downloaded podcast episodes that were actually broadcast content automatically edited/produced or automatically published as on-demand.


Audience Reactions.

It’s important to remember that audiences have also gone through their own AI journey this past year. While they, too, might have had resistances, we now see clear indicators that audiences are receptive to AI-supplemented content and experience. 

The catch? They don’t want to be duped. They want you to be transparent if any of your on-air voices are AI. Simple as that. Disclosure is key. You don’t have to make a huge deal about disclosing that you’re using AI, just don’t try to hide it or make your punchline, ‘...surprise, all of this has been AI.’ 

Even for stations who are purely using AI behind the scenes for content curation and operational efficiency, AI has proven that it can enrich the radio experience - making it more personal, local, and responsive. 


Here come the ‘stunts’

We’ve seen companies ‘hooking up’ ChatGPT to off-the-shelf voice providers and doing stunts on the air. They usually backfired. 

We don’t believe AI should be used as a ‘stunt.’ Put it to work. Do something real and meaningful with it that makes us all better. 

Hooking up ChatGPT to an off-the-shelf voice service is not going to give you AudioAI. It’s going to give you ChatGPT - with all of its idiosyncrasies talking on your station, which is different from what we’ve built.

At Futuri, we’ve invested for years in the development of AI voices, and we also partner with a number of voice providers. We’ve also invested in interfaces with multiple LLMs and tuning/training to be sure the script and voices are speaking without “DJ cliches” in a way that is relatable and acceptable to audiences. 

When stations use AudioAI, they create personalities (not just voices) for use on the air. The character traits chosen for each personality impact the speaking style, context of conversation, and overall sound of a voice. We’ve been able to evolve the AI for voice and scripting, so that there is better consideration now for human-like personable expression, humor, and culturally relevant references.


A Vision for Radio's Future 

Every industry is undergoing an AI-influenced transformation. Radio is not alone. Every industry is discussing the most responsible and thoughtful way to move forward, and I’m encouraged by our growing list of progressive partners who are using AI with meaningful purpose.

Embracing AI brings an opportunity to reinvigorate our work in the radio industry. Use it with purpose. Create more engaging, diverse, and interesting content. At Futuri, I’m proud to say that our team is intentional and conscious about the way we are creating AI-powered systems; we do it with the intention of making radio’s humans better! If we do this well, AI could be exactly what our industry needed to lift it into a newfound level of relevance for the next generation of radio listeners. 

We envision a future where AI and human creativity together shape a more engaging, diverse, and dynamic listening experience.


Daniel Anstandig is Founder and CEO of Futuri, whose AI-driven technology solutions are used by thousands of broadcasters worldwide to grow their content, audience, and revenue. He holds 20 published or pending patents in 151 countries worldwide. Reach him at linkedin.com/in/anstandig/

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