Wednesday, 12 July 2023

America's first AI DJ is Portland's 'AI Ashley,' modeled after existing host who says she's happy with robotic arrangement

 Portland radio station LIVE 95.5 has been using an artificial intelligence-generated host modeled after one of their existing DJs called "AI Ashley."

As reported by ABC affiliate Katu 2, the radio station has used a digital version of their host Ashley Z Elzinga when she isn't available. 

“I do nights at Movin’ 92.5, so I'm all over the place, so if I can't be on the second that news breaks say they have like an active shooter situation in Portland. They want to be able to go live with that right away, so if I can't get to my home studio, this can step in,” Elzinga told Katu 2.

Elzinga said that since the launch of AI Ashley, the digital version of herself has only done two complete shows, while she has continued to do her job.

"Outside of the industry, it's a lot of tech people who are saying good job and embracing new technology, and they're excited about this. I mean, this is a brand new thing," Ashley Z said. 

The host agreed to a pay increase with Dylan Salisbury, the station’s content director, according to Billboard.

"We have increased her fee," the content director said, adding that he doesn't even think the audience has noticed when the AI takes over. 

“If she says stop, we have to stop,” Salisbury added. “We’re trying to be respectful during the wild West of AI and go where we think the law is going to go.”

Elzinga said she is happy with how the arrangement has gone, but she requires it to be clearly stated when "AI Ashley" is used on-air. “You just need to make sure integrity comes first,” she said.

Some industry critics have spoken out against the news however, telling Billboard, “They are eagerly stripping away, as fast as they can, the thing that makes radio unique,” former radio host and station manager Michele Coppola said.

“My fear is there will be some owners that will [say], ‘This is an efficiency, this is a way for us to save money — that will further deplete the body of truly talented radio people,” added Steve Reynolds, a talent coach for radio personalities.

“[The A.I. company] claims it’s going to be a tool, just like any other tool, to make a job easier,” explained Lance Venta, owner of radio news site Radio Insight. “Voice-tracking, when used properly, is a tool. When it’s used to have a talent voice 35 stations to save money, it’s no longer a tool — it’s a weapon," he added.

Fred Jacobs, member of the Radio Hall of Fame, said that broadcasting company Alpha Media had "opened some heavy and important doors" by implementing "AI Ashley."

"Now, we need the courage and vision to walk through them," he wrote.

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