Live 95.5, a prominent radio station in Portland, Oregon, made an exciting announcement this week, revealing its new midday host, Ashley Elzinga, will be accompanied by a cloned version of her voice named “AI Ashley.” This groundbreaking development is made possible through Futuri Media’s innovative tool, “RadioGPT,” an AI-powered solution that utilizes GPT-4 to generate scripts based on trending news and delivers them with a synthetic voice.
It is important to note that AI Ashley does not replace the traditional Ashley completely, addressing the concerns raised by local DJs. The radio station has recognized the potential of AI in optimizing broadcasting, as many radio stations have been exploring cost-effective alternatives such as AI due to rising expenses. In 2020, iHeartMedia implemented organizational changes, resulting in layoffs and increased investment in artificial intelligence.
Alpha Media, the parent company of Live 95.5, assures listeners that Ashley Elzinga will not lose her job and will continue to receive the same salary. Phil Becker, Alpha Media EVP of Content, explained that the situation will be a hybrid, with traditional Ashley hosting some segments while AI Ashley handles others. During segments with AI Ashley, traditional Ashley may engage in community activities, manage social media posts, or work on digital assets and other responsibilities associated with the role.
Becker emphasized that Alpha Media’s adoption of RadioGPT is not solely driven by cost savings but rather aims to provide radio hosts with an efficient toolset to enhance their performance.
Concerns have been raised about the acceptance of AI DJs by listeners who have grown accustomed to local radio personalities. To address this, Live 95.5 has trained the AI to sound like an existing radio host with whom the audience is already familiar. As seen in a tweet shared by Elzinga, the AI voice closely resembles the real host’s voice, but it is evident that it is AI. The synthetic voice identifies itself as AI Ashley, ensuring transparency and clarifying that it is not a human host speaking.
Transparency and honesty are key principles for Live 95.5, as Becker emphasized, stating that it is not their intention to deceive anyone. While some Twitter users expressed disappointment and concern about the AI DJ, Alpha Media remains confident in their decision.
Live 95.5 is among the first radio stations to leverage RadioGPT, but it is likely not the last. Another Portland-based radio station owned by Alpha Media, KUFO Freedom 970, will also utilize this AI technology.
Alpha Media manages over 200 radio stations across the United States and proudly claims to be the first radio broadcasting company worldwide to feature an AI DJ. Rogers Sports & Media, a Futuri partner, which owns numerous stations and podcasts in Canada, is another notable adopter of this AI technology.
During the beta release of RadioGPT in February, concerns were raised about the potential risks associated with AI DJs, including the spread of misinformation. While ChatGPT, the underlying technology, may occasionally provide inaccurate information, Futuri’s solution involves human moderation to ensure the generated content is reliable. Futuri’s advanced technology scans thousands of news sources and social media platforms to identify trending topics, and a team of human moderators reviews and edits the content before it is aired.
Daniel Anstandig, CEO and founder of Futuri, assures the public that safeguards are in place to prevent the dissemination of speculative or offensive content. The AI is programmed to cross-check and reduce the occurrence of inaccurate information, referred to as “hallucination.”