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ENCO AI Creates Scripts and Voices Spots

SpecAI is a joint venture joint venture of Compass Media Networks, Benztown and ENCO

ENCO makes software and systems for use in the studios and control rooms of broadcasters and A/V professionals; its lineup includes radio automation, playout software, and automatic and live captioning among other products. The company last fall joined forces with Benztown and Compass Media Networks to bring the SpecAI ad creation tool to the North American radio market.

Ken Frommert is ENCO president. He answered our questions for the Radio World ebook “Artificial Intelligence in Radio.”

Ken Frommert

Radio World: Ken what do you consider the most important trend in how artificial intelligence tech is being used in radio?

Ken Frommert: The all-enveloping trend we see is how companies and people are leveraging AI for creative purposes. In ENCO’s case, we are leveraging AI to create the script for commercials, and then convert that text to synthetic speech. That becomes the voice of the commercial, with music mixed underneath the synthetic speech. AI essentially empowers radio sales teams to create a compelling spec spot within seconds without a requirement for professional production.

RW: Expand on how AI is used in your products. 

Frommert: There are two different applications of AI within our new SpecAI solution. The first is content creation, which is creating the script for commercials based on user input. SpecAI takes in information such as the advertiser’s brand name, the mood or emotion behind the script — humorous, serious, etc. — and other pertinent information. SpecAI then leverages generative AI to create many scripts on the fly, and the user can select which script they like best. Any scripts selected can be edited and then voiced, selectable from a variety of natural sounding synthetic voices. 

That represents the second application of AI technology in SpecAI: voice synthesis. This creates an audio file of a human-sounding synthetic voice. The user can make adjustments to how that voice sounds and then select a music bed from Benztown to lay underneath the track. The result is a wholly produced spec commercial that has been created in a matter of seconds.

RW: How will the development of generative tools change how radio managers and employees do their jobs?

Frommert: We are changing the game when it comes to how radio account executives on the sales team can be more efficient. The ability to impress existing and potential clients by creating very compelling, localized spec ads on the fly as they meet in the same room is an enormous benefit. Rather than take hours to days to produce a spec ad and present it to a customer for review and approval, they can literally create, adjust, edit and sell an ad to a customer right on the spot. SpecAI allows them to do their jobs faster, easier and with greater potential for success.

RW: Give an example of a broadcaster using your AI-based tools.

Frommert: Connoisseur Media’s stations in Connecticut are now using SpecAI to create custom spec commercials in mere seconds using AI technology. Using SpecAI, reps from stations WALK(FM), WBZO(FM), WEBE(FM), WEZN(FM), WHLI(AM), WICC(AM), WKJY(FM), WPLR(FM) and WWSK(FM) craft three creative scripts for consideration, selecting from a variety of voice, and orchestrating music bed underneath the generated voice. Kristin Okesson, senior vice president and Connecticut market manager of Connoisseur, calls SpecAI “a unique blend of tech, creativity and convenience that our local sales team values.”

SpecAI is a joint venture between Compass Media Networks, Benztown and ENCO that launched in Q4 2023.

RW: What is the most impressive use of AI that you’ve come across for radio?

Frommert: I’m impressed with how human- and natural-sounding the synthetic voices have become and continue to improve, including expressing emotion and voice cloning. Literally every day these voice models get better, and the output is becoming harder to differentiate what is synthetic or not. 

RW: Are there applications for AI in other parts of the radio operation worth noting?

Frommert: AI voice tracking is something that will continue to grow and become more widely used as stations rely on AI’s ability to deliver current and local information more efficiently than ever before. Sharing insights on music that just aired, giving a current weather report, or delivering the latest local news in a voice with a localized dialect allows a station to sound live and local while always staying fresh. To do that without human intervention is a reality today and we are just starting.

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