Portland’s Live 95.5 is now billing itself as “the world’s first radio station with an AI DJ” after using artificial intelligence to mimic – and partially replace – one of its hosts.
The Alpha Media-owned station recently took to social media to reveal the on-air debut of the AI DJ, which is powered by Futuri’s RadioGPT and based on a (human) radio personality named Ashley Elzinga. Live 95.5’s weekday host between 12 PM and 3 PM, the former Ryan Seacrest Productions intern Ashley Elzinga (known as “Ashley Z” to fans) reacted to her AI counterpart in a brief video.
“Today I go from just Ashley to AI Ashley on Live 95.5. So let’s see how close the AI sounds to me,” said the Michigan native, who after hearing “AI Ashley” recite the same sentences laughed, acknowledged the replication’s accuracy, and joked about having “the day off.”
A second clip uploaded to Live 95.5’s Twitter appears to show AI Ashley in action, interacting with a caller in connection with a ticket giveaway while on the air.
“It’s AI Ashley calling her first Taylor Swift winner,” declared the artificial intelligence voice, proceeding to wait a couple rings for an answer, inquire as to this winner’s identity, and provide a technically proficient (if somewhat emotionally distant) description of the situation.
At least in the provided minute-long snippet, the individual on the other side of the phone didn’t mention or otherwise react to the fact that she was speaking with an AI DJ. Alpha Media touted the “groundbreaking” development – and touched upon its long-term plans for AI Ashley – in a formal release that was forwarded to the radio trades.
“To put it simply, I am ecstatic to be one of the trailblazers at Alpha Media helping to build an innovative and unique listening experience for our audience,” communicated Live 95.5 content director Dylan Salisbury. “We have been working hard to ensure that AI Ashley is just as live, local, engaging, and entertaining as the traditional version, and I can’t wait for our fans to hear both versions of Ashley in action.”
Despite Salisbury’s enthusiasm, a number of social media users are expressing concerns about the underlying technology’s long-term implications. And while the actual Ashley Z was back on the air at the time of this writing, she went ahead and closed out today’s broadcast by clarifying that it was really her, not her all-but-indistinguishable AI soundalike, who had spent the afternoon with listeners.
“You have totally disrespected the radio profession,” one irked commenter tweeted. “You made history for all the wrong reasons.”
“You guys are bragging about this? An already outdated medium is furthering their obsolescence by replacing its people with AI… oof,” weighed in another observer.
Notwithstanding these and more firmly worded remarks, logic suggests that it was only a matter of time before AI (which has for years been replacing behind-the-scenes radio jobs) made its way onto the airwaves.
On the streaming side, Apple Music hasn’t hesitated to save cash, time, and trouble by tapping AI to read audiobooks, whereas Spotify is quietly continuing to expand its own AI DJ offering into additional countries.
And in terms of music (the foundation of radio and streaming alike, of course), artificial intelligence is pumping out a multitude of releases – some approved by the appropriate acts, others unauthorized.