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Celebrating Radio’s first “Artificial Intelligence DJ”

She’s causing a ton of consternation in radio circles and she’s either unreal or all too real, depending on your point of view.

I’m talking about “Denise,” radio’s first “Artificial Intelligence DJ,” appearing soon on one HD station with more to follow, no doubt.

Let’s begin by leaving aside the easy jokes about “intelligence,” artificial or otherwise, as it relates to the average DJ in the ears of many listeners.

Let’s also acknowledge that this is, first and foremost, a publicity play which has already proved worth its weight in gold.

Finally, let’s note the difference between a “DJ” and a “Personality,” where the former is part of the music mix and the latter is a destination unto him- or herself.

This points to a larger issue:  What is the value of the DJ in the radio mix?

In my view, the more the radio experience is enhanced by the presence of the DJ, the more important that DJ is.  And, conversely, the more the DJ is viewed as “chatter,” the less important the DJ is.

Which side of that coin any given jock is on is a function of the format, the management, the ratings, the programming direction, and (last but not least) the talents of the particular jock in question.

No jock who adds significant value to the radio experience need fear “Denise.”  She will always be a wooden Pinnochio in a world of real boys.

However, any jock whose contribution to the station is indifferent from “chatter” – any jock who is more of an obstacle to giving listeners what they want than an asset in providing the kind of relevance and spontaneous joy great jocks have always been famous for – those DJ’s are no better and certainly more expensive than “Denise.”

In other words, if a jock can be replaced by “Denise” with no fallout to the station in terms of ratings, revenue, or audience and advertiser satisfaction, then that jock can and should be replaced.

The smart broadcasters already know this, of course.

They already know that it’s what’s between the songs that gives radio its competitive advantage, now and into the future.  That’s why their preference will always be to syndicate and voice-track humans rather than people who resemble them only in very bad light.

Their preference will be to stock their air with communicators who connect, not software algorithms that need to be connected.

So celebrate the arrival of “Denise.”

There’s plenty of room for intelligence in radio.  Even if a smidgeon of it is artificial.

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