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Anstandig: The Loss of Radio Personalities Isn’t AI’s Fault

"The fact is, making technology work for you is far more advisable than trying to stop technology’s progress"

In this letter to the editor, the author/CEO of Futuri responds to Terry Stevens’ recent letter “The Potential Benefits of Futuri’s RadioGPT Come at a Cost.” Comment on this or any article. Email us.

Recently, Radio World published a letter to the editor responding to your April 26 article, “Futuri Grabs Radio’s Attention With RadioGPT.” Since announcing RadioGPT’s launch, I’ve heard thousands of passionate responses, pro and con, and I understand the emotion behind them.

What I’ve never understood is radio’s willingness to “give up” on local communities by pulling personalities and resources out of small and medium (and well, even large) markets. But that’s not an AI problem. That has been going on for 25-plus years. Projecting your frustration about this onto AI won’t make you more competitive. Embracing new technology, especially when it has the potential to eliminate certain roles, can be scary — and that is happening in every industry on every continent. The fact is, making technology work for you is far more advisable than trying to stop technology’s progress. That never works.

I feel the need to respond to the aforementioned letter because the writer questioned the article’s quote from me about my personal love for radio.

I find it ironic that the letter’s author is from WJCU. Why? Well, when I was nine, I built a low-power transmitter and broadcast a call-in request show from my parents’ basement. After the authorities inevitably came knocking and shut down my “operation,” I started getting involved with WJCU. This was back when it was run by Dave Reese. I was 12 years old, and Father Bill Bichl and Dave Reese were incredible mentors of mine at a young age at John Carroll University. I have loved radio since before I learned long division. If anything, that love has grown.

I’m extremely passionate about ensuring radio stays healthy and relevant for decades to come. And the fact is, there are some in our industry who need a wake-up call about what it’s going to take for that to happen.

I certainly agree with the author’s assertion that listeners want radio to have a personal feel. I also know that the vast majority of commercial radio stations in the U.S. are not staffed by a live and local human 24/7. Not even close.

So what happens in those dayparts that aren’t staffed? All-sweeper airshifts or voice tracks.

While some voice trackers are better than others, I agree with Valerie Geller on this. She recently said, “A lot of the voice-tracking I’ve heard already sounds like AI. There’s nothing human about it. It’s just a broadcaster playing an actor playing a broadcaster.”

The mindset that all listeners will stick with your brand during lackluster dayparts just because they love one or two of them is just hubris. Giving your existing talent the right technology to make that personal connection with their audiences in the modern fashion they expect, and then surrounding them in unmanned dayparts with content that’s highly relevant to the local market, is not only wise — it’s crucial if “real radio” is going to maintain its audience, find new audience and continue to generate revenue from advertisers who have never had so many options for their dollars.

Radio as a medium is more than 100 years old. Today’s talented radio professionals deserve technologies and operating strategies that keep pace with the times. My team and I will continue to develop them. And I’ll never stop loving radio.

– Daniel Anstandig, CEO and founder, Futuri

[Check Out More Letters at Radio World’s Reader’s Forum Section]