Portland’s Live 95.5 now bills 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 unveil the on-air debut of the AI DJ, operated by Futuris RadioGPT and based on a (human) radio personality named Ashley Elzinga. Former Ryan Seacrest Productions intern Ashley Elzinga (known to fans as “Ashley Z”), who hosts Live 95.5 weekdays from 12pm to 3pm, responded to her AI counterpart in a short video.
“Today I’m switching from Ashley to AI Ashley on Live 95.5. Let’s see how close the AI sounds to me.” called The Michigan native laughed after hearing “AI Ashley” recite the same phrases, acknowledging the accuracy of the rendition and joking 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 related to a ticket raffle during the broadcast.
“It’s AI Ashley calling her first Taylor Swift winner,” announced the voice of the artificial intelligence, waiting a few ringtones for an answer, inquiring about the identity of that winner and delivering a technically competent (if a little emotionally distant ) description of the situation .
At least in the one-minute snippet provided, the person on the other end of the phone didn’t mention the fact that they were talking to an AI DJ, or otherwise reacted to it. Alpha Media hailed the “groundbreaking” development – and detailed its long-term plans for AI Ashley – in a formal release shared with the radio industry.
“To put it simply, I’m thrilled to be one of the pioneers at Alpha Media and to help create an innovative and unique listening experience for our audiences,” said Dylan Salisbury, Live 95.5 Content Director. “We’ve worked hard to ensure 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, some social media users are raising concerns about the long-term impact of the underlying technology. And while the actual Ashley Z was back on the air at the time of writing, she ended today’s broadcast by clarifying that she was Really her, not her barely distinguishable AI soundalike, who’d spent the afternoon with listeners.
“You have completely disrespected the radio profession,” tweeted one disgruntled commenter. “They made history for the wrong reasons.”
“You brag about it? An already outdated medium is contributing to its obsolescence by replacing its humans with AI… oof,” opined another observer.
These and more clearly worded remarks notwithstanding, logic suggests that it was only a matter of time before AI (which has replaced behind-the-scenes radio jobs for years) makes its way into the airwaves.
On the streaming side, Apple Music hasn’t hesitated to save money, time and hassle by using AI to read audiobooks, while Spotify is quietly expanding its own AI DJ offering to more countries.
And when it comes to music (of course, the basis of radio and streaming alike), artificial intelligence brings out a variety of releases – some authorized by the relevant authorities, some unauthorized.