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Here’s How Listeners Feel About Radio Using AI In Station Programming.

The majority (58%) of core radio listeners are very, or somewhat, familiar with artificial intelligence and are very concerned with its use for cloning on-air personalities’ voices. Listeners are less worried about using AI to record commercials and station identifiers.

These are among the early findings of Techsurvey 2024 shared by Jacobs Media with Inside Radio. The feedback from more than 31,000 radio listeners across the U.S. and Canada provides a first-time view of the emerging technology from radio consumers.

“Many radio companies have jumped on the AI bandwagon but with little guidance from their audience,” Jacobs Media President Fred Jacobs noted. “This exclusive data from Techsurvey 2024 provides valuable feedback from partisans of 10 popular radio formats about their hopes but for now at least, fears of AI.”

Just under six in ten respondents (45%) are at least “somewhat familiar” with AI, especially progressive young listeners, the annual survey reveals. Overall, 12% are “very familiar” while 18% say they are “not familiar, not interested” in AI, and 15% are “not familiar” but “are interested” in it. Men, as well as members of Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen Xers, are more apt to say they’re familiar with AI.

Of those familiar with AI, nearly one in ten (9%) said they use its applications for personal, work, or school. Gen Z and Millennial respondents are most likely to say they use it at least weekly.

Core listeners of alternative/modern rock radio stations are the most prone to regularly use AI, while classic rock and classic hits radio fans are least likely to use the technology. Public and Christian music radio listeners are the most concerned about the speed at which AI is being adopted, with seven in ten (71%) saying they are very or somewhat alarmed at the rate AI is progressing, especially women, Jacobs Media says in its findings.

Only 5% believe AI will have a “very positive” impact on society in the short term, while just over one in four (27%) believe AI’s effect will be “somewhat positive.” Conversely, a majority (53%) agree AI will lead to a somewhat or very negative impact on their world. Most think the government should regulate AI, and more than one-third say the government ought to provide AI safeguards.

That perception may be fueled by the November elections, Jacobs posits. About half (51%) say they’re very concerned about how AI might affect this fall’s political races. Members of the Greatest Generation and Boomers are most fearful of that influence.

Radio And AI

Respondents were surveyed about how they feel about AI being used by stations they listen to in three areas: AI hosts, AI-voiced commercials, and AI-voiced IDs.

Three in four (75%) have major concerns over AI replacing live DJs, personalities, hosts, or announcers. There is slightly less concern about using AI to voice commercials with nearly four in ten (39%) saying they disapprove of radio stations they listen to using AI on ads. Of the three applications, using AI to “voice” station IDs is the most acceptable to radio listeners. Overall, about one-third (34%) have no problem, but a similar-sized group (30%) expresses major concerns with this use case for AI.

Isolating the question about AI technology taking the place of radio station talent, Techsurvey reveals across-the-board concern with worries expressed by at least seven in ten of the demographic subgroups (gender, generation, type of radio station) included in the analysis.

Among the top ten radio formats, those who prefer alternative and rock, as well as news/talk, sports, and classic rock voiced the strongest concerns. Fans of CHR are less disturbed by AI, but even two-thirds of them (68%) are against the idea of bot jocks, Jacobs says.

“It is still early days for AI in radio, but broadcasters need to respect the many concerns voiced by core fans of the medium,” GM Paul Jacobs remarked. “Up to now, many decisions have been made in a vacuum. Now the audience has a voice. We’ll be tracking their perceptions in Techsurveys in the coming years as the technology matures. The format level data for AI should provide welcome feedback for radio managers trying to get a handle on AI.”

Jacobs Media’s all-industry webinar, in partnership with Inside Radio and sponsored by Quu, of Techsurvey 2024 results is scheduled for Thursday, April 25 at 2pm (ET). Registration information can be viewed HERE.

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