Why Traditional Radio Faces Challenges and How Local Content Can Thrive

I have been in radio for 13 years and have worked at several companies during that time. One thing I really like about Townsquare, the company responsible for the station you're reading this on, is that they pride themselves on being live and local. I'm not just saying this because I work there—they really do focus on live and local content, with live and local jocks, and I love it. I think that's what's going to keep radio around for many years to come.

The Rise of AI in Radio and Its Impact on Authenticity

Especially since you have other companies, like the one where I got my start back in Denver, that are making changes I describe as a last fleeting hope for a dying company. In an article put out by Radio Ink, "Audacy has partnered with voice AI specialist ElevenLabs on advanced synthetic voice technology for its programming and production processes." What does this mean? Essentially, it means Audacy aims to create AI voices to build a library for commercials and shows, including drive-time shows. It's like they saw what Spotify did with its creepy AI DJ that tells you useless and random info before playing a song you didn't want to hear, and just decided they could do that but raise the bar even higher.

Radio's Changing Landscape and the Importance of Local Talent

Talking with friends within that company, I've learned that Audacy has been working with a bare-bones skeleton crew for years, with DJs spread so thin that they might only have one show in the state where they live—the rest are spread throughout the country. Now, this in itself isn't necessarily bad—radio has been trending that way for a while; it's called voice tracking. However, there are some companies that really try to stay live and local, like the one you're reading this from.

Navigating the AI Revolution and Maintaining Human Connection

This technology Audacy will be using allows for realistic, context-aware audio in multiple languages. It also helps Audacy streamline content creation. So creating commercials and hosting a show. It sounds like maybe they will roll this out on their streaming side first, but knowing that company, I’m sure they will be using it on the airwaves in no time at all.

Jeff Sottolano, Audacy's Head of Programming, believes the partnership with ElevenLabs will transform how they connect with listeners and benefit advertising partners. Carles Reina, ElevenLabs' Vice President of Revenue, stated that the collaboration with Audacy brings new voices to radio, promoting diversity and accessibility.

Reflecting on Radio's Past and Future

To me, this seems like another nail in the coffin of what was once an incredible, magical, entertaining industry—a business filled with fun, cheesy stunts, corny gimmicks, and overall gut-busting laughs while you drove to work. It was an industry of titans and my heroes, people who knew how to connect with others, helping listeners feel connected to people. Call it a simpler time or a bygone era, but to me, it's a sign of greed and the lack of human connection that's contributing to the loss of this great business. I'm just glad that we here at this radio house can still provide you with a human connection.

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