Published on August 18th, 2011 | by Alan Cross25
The Non-Human DJ Gets a Gig. AAARRGHHH!
Her name is Denise and at first glance she’s kinda hot. But she’s actually less real than a Penthouse Pet.
Instead, Denise is a James Cameron wet dream, a virtual non-human AI radio DJ.
Built by a company called Guile 3D, she was designed to be a virtual assistant. In that guise, she can check email, do web searches, answer phone calls and various other tasks. But then she was bought by a radio person named Domique Garcia for $200 and programmed to be a radio DJ.
Denise still requires a scriptwriter but has been refined to the point where she’s been given a f*cking airshift on a San Antonio radio station called KROV. She starts at 1pm CDT on August 24th.
Great. As if radio hasn’t been decimated by cost-cutting, staff reductions and an overall drain of talent. Voicetracking–the practice of pre-recording announcer breaks and then having a computer automatically insert them at pre-determined times–is bad enough. And it’s hideous that small market radio stations–the former farm teams for the big leagues–barely have any live people on the air. Now robots are going to do the job?
Radio strength is its intimacy. A good radio personality is your friend, companion and filter. He/she is a source of news, entertainment and music.
Without a genuine human touch, radio is nothing more than an unprogrammbale iPod. With commercials.
“If you have a staff of five that is paid $100,000 a year each, that’s half-a-million dollars,” he said. “The entire (AI) program is $200, a one-time fee. You never have to pay an annual fee. It never has to go to the bathroom. It never goes on an egomaniac spree. It is always there.”
In other words, programs like Denise make it easier for the manager–what’s to manage?–and boosts margins because you don’t have to worry about paying human beings.
Dude: Do you think you’re saving radio? Do you think you’re advancing the cause? Do you think this is good for the medium? If so, you’re on crack. A big, giant dirty ball of crack. It’s stuff like this that’s killing radio!
Fewer jobs. Less engagement with the listener. Less relevance for radio. Another reason to tune out. Or worse: not to tune in at all.
And to make it even crazier, KROV is a community radio station, EXACTLY THE KIND OF PLACE WHERE THERE SHOULD BE REAL PEOPLE MAKING REAL CONNECTIONS WITH THE COMMUNITY! WHAT THE F*CK, DUDE?
I hate this idea so much that I’m trembling. Yet why do I think this is the way of the future?
If you’re a radio person–either someone in the industry or just someone who loves the medium and the art of broadcasting–here’s where you can send your complaints. Please do so forcefully. And often.
UPDATE: This article has generated record traffic on this site and has reached some interesting places. A company that’s currently wrapping up a documentary called Radio Wars has asked me to film a bit on this topic for the last part of the film.