The Double-Edged Disruptor: What Does Radio Do About A.I.?


(By Deborah Parenti) From the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strikes (ongoing at press time) to station water cooler talk, artificial intelligence is one of the most debated topics in media.

Whether you know it as ChatGPT, a growing list of chatbot alternatives, or from recent Radio Ink headlines about companies like Futuri and Seekr, AI is striking fear while simultaneously fostering immense curiosity in a tech-enamored world. Part game-changer, part potential replacement, it’s a love-hate relationship. We want the advantages but worry about the possible intrusion into our professional territory.

“It really doesn’t matter if you are fearful or not: The tools are here, so what do we do?” says BeMyApp AI User Group Lead Jackson Beaman, who organized an “A.I. for Marketers” event in July in San Francisco. “We could stand here and not do anything, or we can learn how to apply them.”

He has a point. Yes, there are huge areas of concern in terms of copyrights, data privacy, and security with artificial intelligence. The only way to address these issues before it gets too late in the game is to get involved now.

I was reminded of the conundrum posed by AI in terms of the potential loss of human jobs while grocery shopping last week. Entering the store, I was greeted by a large sign extolling the benefits of working for the major chain and encouraging applications. On my way out, I saw the self-checkout lines. Remember the outcry over the potential elimination of jobs their introduction was bound to create? 

I don’t recall if any hard numbers were ever determined on that, and I am sure there was some attrition during the initial phases, but the sign I encountered at the entrance points to the fact that new positions have been created as part of — not in spite of — technology’s emergence. Increased demand, sparked in part by the pandemic, has prompted the creation of jobs in areas of fulfillment and delivery. Someone has to be selecting, packing up, and delivering those groceries. The job has changed, but the jobs have remained.

Still worried? The World Economic Forum estimates that while 85 million jobs will be eliminated by AI, 97 million new ones will be created. That’s a 14% increase. It’s more a matter of replacing functions and tedious tasks over yanking positions, albeit with some possible changes in duties.

Which brings us to radio. The emergence of artificial intelligence has made generating copy and promotional materials a matter of prompts and a few seconds. Let’s face it, the industry has not exactly placed a lot of emphasis on either since the beginning of the consolidation era more than 23 years ago. In too many instances, copy is being written by reps who can barely stay ahead while battling for dollars against a myriad of digital competitors. 

If finding time to write proposals that drive revenue is difficult, finding time and possessing the creativity to write copy that moves product is even harder. Want to talk about potentially having a negative impact on a station’s sound? Try listening through three or four badly written commercials in a row. No wonder listeners leave. That said, even the best AI-produced copy needs oversight. It’s not a perfect science.

There remain some very real potential threats, but replacing an already voicetracked show is not one of them. Copyright infringements and deepfakes (spoofing real people by putting words in their mouths that do not reflect their true thoughts or opinions) — those are where it truly gets dangerous.

Deborah Parenti is Publisher of Radio Ink. Reach Deborah at [email protected]. Read her Radio Ink digital archives here or read her latest column with a digital or print subscription here.


  1. Thanks for chiming in, Deborah. 3 or 4 badly written spots in a row? 3 or 4 SPOTS in a row is a killer. AI might be able to write a commercial for your client but it must be proofread by a human to insure it can (and will) work for the client. AI, like digital storage, like voice tracking-is a TOOL to be used by a very human medium. We’ve beaten radio’s problems into the ground-and smarter PEOPLE will find a way to utilize these tools for the betterment of of the industry-maybe with the help of AI. I’m lucky enough to have hundreds of stations accessible via the good ol’ car radio and still – even in the #2 media market get to hear some really bad production….actually -spots with NO production. Commercials used to be consumed one at a time. Now we’re force-fed 8, 10, 12 even more units in one break. Where are the tools to fix that ? The “voice tracked” AI replacement makes a bad situation even worse. It’s about time that we take the “evil” AI and utilize it to better the industry. The online players are nipping at radio’s heels – but if we’re smart enough we can stay in the lead. Use these tools to stay SMART. Thank you!

  2. Well said, Deborah. Not to mention what could happen with an AI Generated newscast that takes its information from the internet. It still takes the human element to fact check and edit when the computer goes awry.


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