With all the attention on artificial intelligence's promise for – and potential impact on – radio, the focus should be on what it can do to make stations better without taking over everything. That's the takeaway from the latest “Connecting the Dots” blog from Jacobs Media's Seth Resler.
In the piece titled “How Radio Stations Should Be Thinking About AI,” Resler says, “The power of AI lies in helping humans do what they're best at. The goal is to free up your time and resources so that more of them can be focused on your station's core competency, so when it comes to things that fall outside of that competency, look for ways to use AI to eliminate or offload tasks.”
Job 1, Resler says, is defining that core competency, as in whatever your station excels at. “Whether it's entertaining people while they're at work, or informing them about the most important news stories of the day, keep that competency front and center in your mind,” he says. “ How can AI help you do that better? By allowing you to do it faster, more often, or at a reduced cost.”
Using a station's morning show as an example, Resler recommends using AI to sift through more stories to find better material, publish pieces of the show to more platforms, localize it for more stations, or to replace show prep services. In other words, he says, “Use AI to enhance what you're already good at, [but] don't try to use it to turn your station into something that it's not.”
Likewise, AI shouldn't one-up, or potentially weaken, what makes a station special. “You don't want to use AI if it's going to undermine your core competency,” Resler says. “If your station's greatest strength is the ability of its on-air talent to make audiences laugh, don't replace that on-air talent with AI DJs that aren't funny. Only use AI if it can help your station strengthen its core competency.”
Key to determining AI's role at radio is defining what falls outside of its core competency. “We may find far more value in using it to accomplish tasks that have a lower profile,” Resler says. “ By adopting a strategy that puts your station's [core competency], instead of AI, at the center, you'll find that AI tools can extend your staff's capabilities, and frees them up to do what they do best.” This means the focus should not be on using AI not to produce, as he says, “public-facing content,” but rather using it to help make better public-facing content.
The often-made mistake, Resler says in the blog, is thinking that radio should have an “AI strategy.” “Too often, we speak about a station's digital strategy, programming strategy, and sales strategy as if these are independent things, [but] in reality, they all make up one overarching business strategy,” he says. “I don't think the appropriate question to ask is, 'What is our AI strategy?' Instead, ask, 'What is our business strategy and how can AI help us with it?'.”