New AI Audio Tools and Competition

Lots of Innovations, New Tools, and Counter-Hype

ImageWhat’s News: After a late-March lull, press releases and news stories for AI innovations have been fast and furious over the last week, showing that even if the PR teams took a spring vacation, the development teams didn’t.

First off, Google announced the public release of the latest version of Gemini 1.5, which now can understand audio/speech and video.  OpenAI announced that ChatGPT basic users no longer have to have an account to use the service to expand access. Not to be outdone, Meta announced it will be launching an open-source version of its large-language model Llama 3.0 next month.

To counter the hype, Jon Stewart revealed Apple PR didn’t want him discussing AI on his previous show, and the New York Times ran an expose on dubious data harvesting techniques by big tech companies.

To be sure, the path forward will continue to accelerate with both ups and downs along the way.  The news affecting broadcasters will continue to be highlighted in this newsletter, and it will include voices about AI both pro-and-con.  I hope you find it to be an honest, open take on the subject.

I’d love to know your thoughts:

AI EDGE Headlines

Add Udio to the List of New Song Generation Tools
ImageTwo weeks ago Suno.AI was all the rage.  We’ve used Suno at Jacobs Media to make custom music for different projects and even tested creating a radio jingle (which wasn’t too shabby). This week, Udio is the rage, coming out of a closed beta and allowing users to create songs via text prompt for free. Their unique angle is that the tool will create high-quality songs in under 40 seconds; however, there is currently a waiting list to test that out.

NYT Will Add Audio to All stories
In another shot-across-the-bow to spoken-word radio, The New York Times plans to add voice narration to the “vast majority of its articles” via an automated voice, according to Axios. The process begins this week, with 10% of articles getting automated voice narration.

The New York Times Audio app has over 1 million downloads, and its audio recordings already receive over 110 million monthly downloads.

Spotify Introduces AI-Generated Playlists for Premium Users
Touting it as an innovation supporting music discovery, Spotify revealed this week that premium users will have the ability to text-prompt Spotify to create a custom playlist. Users can use a text prompt such as, “Sad music for painting dying flowers” or even use emojis to convey the mix of music they’re looking to hear.

After the playlist is created, the user can revise, add, delete, and tweak it, and — of course — share with friends.

Meta Will Label All AI Content in FB/Insta Posts Beginning in May
In a blog postImage, Meta announced a new approach to handling AI content in posts. If the company detects that a posted picture or video is AI-created or “manipulated media,” it will be automatically labeled with a “Made with AI” tag. An important consideration for your social media team to know before they post. Meta’s VP of content policy admitted, “We agree that providing transparency and additional context is now the better way to address this content.”


ImageRobby Bridges has had a long career entertaining radio audiences in cities and for companies large and small. His CV includes all the C’s — Cumulus, Clear Channel, Citadel, and CBS — and local players like Michigan’s MacDonald/Garber and New Jersey’s Press Communications, where he currently is the VP of programming and the morning show co-host with his wife Rochelle. Leading one of the top-rated stations in a market that’s in the shadow of NYC, Robby knows his stations need a stronger local listener connection to differentiate themselves. His passion for radio’s connection to the community was evident in a recent “hot take” on AI that Robby posted to his socials that caught our eyes at Jacobs Media. In it, he called AI “dangerous and negatively disruptive in general and worse for radio.”

I spoke with him this week to find out more about his strident take, and I think even our most pro-AI readers will appreciate his passion for the craft, his demand that his stations’ staffs connect with the audience, and his advice for DJs today. – Chris

CB: In your post, you came out swinging against AI.

RB: Number one, I think the greatest threat is AI replacing people. Number two, I think it’s for talent who use it or to use their likeness needing to get a substantial fee and terms on how long it’s used. There need to be guidelines as to what the AI person themselves is saying it, and right now it’s the Wild West as far as this goes for radio.

What’s important and what’s unique about radio personalities is the way in which they can very intimately connect with people on a one-on-one basis, so if a talent connects with people in a certain way and the AI is simply replicating what has been fed into it from that voice, who’s to say that that connection is the same? You break down that bond and you devalue the listener-DJ relationship. The talent brings a lot to the table.

CB: Are your stations doing anything to highlight that they’re live-and-local (and not AI)?

RB: We’re not running anything that’s specifically saying, “No AI here!” But we certainly do beat the chest really hard on live and local. It’s all Jersey. If we run promos for content, we say there’s no apps, no keywords, not a national contest, no baloney.

CB: How do you think this resonates with your audience?

RB: We do research like everybody does, and something that comes back time and time again is that they they appreciate local information and sometimes if they’re stuck in traffic they don’t even want to believe their app; they want someone on the radio to tell them what the heck is going on. I think those things still matter. We cover hyper-local items in a much bigger marketplace overall.

CB: What about your thoughts about AI beyond the DJ, say for show prep?

RB: I’m opposed to AI in broadcasting. But having said that, sticking our head in the sand is just not possible because the cart as left the station. So is that an application where it can be used for some good?  I think it can help make your job easier in that sort of an instance, but I think those are very limited, very specific things and involve people moderating them and not simply saying, “Well, there’s a body gone.”

I think it is an important point. Kudos to the writers. Kudos to the actors who got new deals with AFTRA-SAG. I think that the television and radio performer side really should ensure that if the tool is going to be used, it’s used for the purpose of enhancing and making their job easier or better as opposed to replacing them or used in a way in which talent did not intend to be used.

CB: You’ve taken a very public strong stand.  What impact has that had on the relationship you have with your team and the culture at the radio station?

RB: I’d like to think that people that work directly with me know that I’m infectious. I think with my enthusiasm they know that I would operate in their best interest as far as protecting them from something that would displace their ability to be personalities and do what they do. Yeah, it doesn’t always necessarily make me the most popular guy out in the rest of the world. I know  a lot of people who say, “Why fight it?”  I say fight it because there needs to be rules and regulations on it.

I think change in technology causing evolution is a natural good thing. But just allowing it to run wild is not. If I owned a radio station and had an extra $3,000, instead of investing in technology, I’d rather spend it on a part-timer. I’m still in that place, but I know there will be people that experiment with it.

Finally, I think it’s more important than ever for all radio talent to be self-motivated to think about how they can create something special, even if it’s just 8 seconds over a song intro. The best way they can protect themselves and their livelihood is to never forget the privilege of opening that microphone every time you do, and do something special with it every single time. Connect with the audience every single time, and they take that away from you.

Special thanks for Paul and Fred for their help on this week’s newsletter.

See you next week!
Chris Brunt
Director of AI, Revenue, and Digital
Jacobs Media | jācapps

Originally published by Jacobs Media