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AI coming to radio and podcasts

Audio tech company Super Hi-Fi has launched an AI-powered operating system for broadcast radio and digital audio that pledges to transform the way modern day radio is created. Branded as Program Director, the suite of tools is designed to function as a support system for overworked programmers, using artificial intelligence to help them with their production, programming, scheduling, automation, and other programming needs.

Co-founder and CEO Zack Zalon describes it as an operating system layered on top of artificial intelligence that unifies all of the programming creation capabilities in one common framework in a web browser using a single interface.

The system will help radio companies connect with their listeners more effectively while lowering their costs, he says. The pitch to digital audio services is the ability to differentiate themselves from their pureplay competitors.

“As we've been working with our customers over the past five or six years, the challenge is realizing that the tools that exist today aren't really designed for tomorrow's radio experiences,” Zalon told Inside Radio. The Program Director system is “for any company that needs really high quality radio experiences, but is incredibly frustrated by the limits of the tools that exist today.”

The company says its AI system can produce “world-class radio stations” and countdown shows in minutes, using AI-assisted playlisting, rotations, daypart scheduling, show creation, automated AI production and online playout.

Program Director also functions as a content management system, allowing companies to manage their music and content libraries and use them across stations, and to access catalogs from Super Hi-Fi’s third-party partners. It also allows companies to create synthetic voice tracks using text-to-audio software company ElevenLabs and ChatGPT, a natural language processing tool driven by AI technology.

Won’t Replace Program Directors

Super Hi-Fi says it has worked with all of its customers, including iHeartMedia, Sonos, Peloton, and various international companies for three years to figure out what tools they need in the future. The product is also informed by conversations with prospective customers in the radio space.

Zalon says the system won’t replace program directors but will instead enable them to do more with their time. “AI allows them to leverage their time much more efficiently to do more stuff and to do it in a way that's more musical, more creative, more artistic, more original, and more experimental.”

He describes it as a “force multiplier” for the tasks that today’s overtaxed program directors are already doing. “No matter how good the AI is, you need humans to still be able to do some of the work…. You can't have an amazing radio experience without a human starting it because it's a human that's going to come up with creative ideas, that's going to figure out how to cultivate and curate the right music experiences,” he says.

“We think there's a way to run radio stations that sound even better than they do on average today, for much less money, and with a lot more flexibility, and control,” Zalon continues. “The only way that you could do that is to totally rethink the way that these tools work. We're not just building technology; we're executing on a vision to totally transforms the radio industry.”

Program Director is the latest offering for radio that uses artificial intelligence to assist in content creation. In late February, Futuri Media unveiled RadioGPT, billed as the world’s first AI-driven localized radio content solution. Combining the power of GPT-3 technology with Futuri's AI-driven targeted story discovery and social content system, TopicPulse, and AI-generated voices, RadioGPT is said to provide a localized radio experience that can be used in any market and with any format.


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