Artificial intelligence is quickly impacting the radio industry as the technology becomes embedded in a growing array of systems and platforms.
Computers programmed with algorithms are powering radio stations and are at the center of iHeartMedia’s massive technical modernization earlier this year. While this modernization resulted in staff layoffs, iHeartMedia says AI is helping to significantly streamline its automation and music scheduling operations.
Industry observers say the broadcaster is being monitored by other broadcast groups to determine what efficiency gains can be made through deploying AI technology.
Various forms of AI-based technology were set to be featured at exhibitor booths in April at NAB Show in Las Vegas. Those displays and presentations are on hold, but broadcast supply companies are still planning to roll out new AI products that are smarter than ever and can accelerate workflow.
Super Hi-Fi, which creates artificial intelligence tools for digital music platforms, is working closely with iHeartMedia on their technological adjustments, including their digital streams on iHeartRadio.
“iHeart uses the [Super Hi-Fi] platform to deliver digital-only music experiences that have many of the same characteristics as broadcast radio,” said Zack Zalon, co-founder and CEO of Super Hi-Fi. “The best way to think of Super Hi-Fi is as an AI that has all of the skills of an on-air radio DJ. So it can perfectly segue any two tracks; it can select the right interstitial content like advertisements or promotional spots or station IDs.”
Radio broadcasters use the Super Hi-Fi system to deliver “almost any radio-like experience” they want, Zalon said. “There’s an almost unlimited creative palette of presentation options available to radio broadcasters to bring their desired experience to life,” he says.
Attendees of previous NAB Shows have seen displays featuring AI, which in its most basic form has been part and parcel to current program automation systems, music scheduling and log preparation for some time, but there has been significant expansion, and integration now allows for a large number of radio stations to be operated from a center hub of operations, industry observers say.
Veritone’s AI platform, aiWARE, and its suite of AI-powered applications enable both local radio stations and networks to accelerate their workflows, save costs and deliver incremental value to their advertising customers.
“Using our newest content classification capabilities, broadcasters can target ads to audiences based on the content of the episode they’re listening to. Listeners appreciate contextual and relevant ads, which means they pay more attention to them,” said Ryan Steelberg, president of Veritone.
Radio broadcasters can now compete with other digital alternatives by definitive attribution of ecommerce or other website transactions correlated to radio ad placements, Steelberg said. “Sales teams can search on-air content within minutes of the broadcast and perform on-demand or automated searches to track any advertising message, whether live-read or prerecorded, through a simple user interface.”
Ryan Steelberg, Veritone
“Considering the large amounts of unstructured data broadcasters and content owners have to manage on a daily basis, AI is a critical component to success — it not only reduces costs and time but also opens up opportunities for incremental revenue generation as well as product innovation.”
Zack Zalon, Super Hi-Fi
“AI systems are getting smarter all the time, and we are constantly working with our partners to provide them new features, new flexibility and new tools to use.”
Bill Bennett, ENCO
“AI’s not just for autonomous vehicles and facial recognition, because when combined with well-designed software focused on the specific workflows of news and talk radio, it becomes an essential tool.”
Bill Bennett, media solutions account manager for ENCO, says artificial intelligence has quickly moved forward in the Automatic Speech Recognition sector, which presents radio stations an opportunity to repurpose and create content.
“Our captioning product, called enCaption, allows radio stations to deliver live computer-generated, scrolling captions to their website and smartphones, making their content more accessible, and enabling hard-of-hearing folks to read along with the program’s transcript in real time,” Bennett said.
Those captions also are available as AI-generated text transcripts, which can help a station’s audience and producers alike search and navigate through archives and recordings to find what matters to them, Bennett said.
Those same live captions can be delivered to end-points such as digital radios and streaming applications, he said.
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