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We’re Not Surprised that Drew Carey Bombed With The AI Version of His Radio Show. Here’s Why.

The radio industry is no stranger to technological advancements. Still, when beloved radio personality Drew Carey decided to use AI to host his radio show, "Friday Night Freakout," it backfired in a big way.

AI image generator Midjourney created this image of Drew Carey using AI.

We're not surprised.

A recent Engadget interview reported that Carey's fans were unhappy with the artificial sound of his AI-generated voice, calling it soulless and lacking the "real Drew" they love. While it's easy to dismiss this as a cautionary tale against the use of AI in radio, we believe that the issue isn't the technology itself, but rather how it was applied and communicated to the audience.

Carey and SiriusXM thought they were being clever.

Firstly, Carey used an AI text-to-speech engine to create his show, which resulted in an impersonal and robotic sound. He did call the all-AI show an “experiment,” so as fellow Clevelanders, we will give him the benefit of the doubt that he would have used more advanced technology if he were going all-in on the concept.

Better AI technology, like Futuri’s RadioGPT™, could have provided a more humanistic and engaging listening experience.

Had he used Futuri’s RadioGPT™, a far more sophisticated and humanistic AI language model, the outcome could have been drastically different. RadioGPT™ is designed to generate natural-sounding speech and engaging content, avoiding the pitfalls of a soulless robotic voice. It’s no wonder that Carey’s fans were dissatisfied given the technology used for his “experiment.” Quality counts!

Transparency with the audience when using AI is crucial to maintain trust and relationships.

When Carey said, “The reason GM stations and treasured radio stations still make money is because people like the personality of the DJs” — well, I agree! Radio personalities' relationship with their audiences is like no other in media. Their audiences see them as trusted friends and spend years developing relationships with them. When a beloved personality “fakes” their entire show, especially by experimenting without being ready for prime time, those devoted audiences can tell — fast. I believe that in the event a personality uses AI for an entire show for one reason or another, there should be transparency with the audience.

Engadget went on to say, “Carey envisions AI being used in the future for the grunt work of radio and other production. Perhaps it could read a script late at night, or churn out some ad copy.” I don't see that as grunt work, but I agree with an evolved version of Carey’s position. If Carey’s show aired on broadcast radio, he could use RadioGPT™ technology to have “his” voice read the weather in every single local market in which he airs. AI Drew could even read the traffic! The ability to use AI for service elements and local cut-ins on syndicated programming is an exciting way to enhance local audiences’ relationships with syndicated programming.

Carey’s take on AI for fringe dayparts is right-on.

Carey also mentioned having AI “read a script late at night.” RadioGPT™, which pairs Futuri’s patented Echo automation link with our TopicPulse story discovery AI, GPT-4, and AI voice technology, is designed to deliver locally relevant content around the clock, even in dayparts that aren’t staffed by those beloved human personalities.

AI image generator Midjourney created this image of Drew Carey using AI.

AI can help create quality content 24/7 and support radio personalities, rather than threaten their careers.

As radio programming legend Mike McVay recently noted in his Radio Ink column, “Listeners use the radio whenever they want to listen. When they have time or a need to listen. They listen in prime and outside of Monday-Friday 6a-7p…Those of us who opine on the challenges of [radio] must acknowledge that ignoring everything outside of Monday-Friday 6a-7p is limiting the success of a station…The advantage of providing great entertaining and informative content 24/7 is that it helps build M-F 6a-7p.” I couldn’t agree with him more. By wisely using AI to ensure broadcast content is relevant around the clock — not just in staffed dayparts, broadcasters can strengthen their relationships with audiences who are used to getting quality content when, where, and how they want it.

AI has the ability to enhance radio programming.

Although Drew Carey's experiment with AI may have backfired, it should not discourage the radio industry from exploring the benefits of AI in content creation. RadioGPT™, with its humanistic and natural-sounding speech and real-time content technology, can enhance radio programming, particularly in dayparts lacking human talent.

With the right application and transparent communication with the audience, AI can be a valuable tool to support and enrich the work of radio in our communities.

AI image generator Midjourney created this image of Drew Carey using AI.

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