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Radio made by robots?: The air researcher analyzes artificial intelligence and other surprises


The Spaniard Gorka Zumeta spent his life studying radio. Today he breaks down a novelty that seems science fiction.

He was a news editor for Radio San Sebastián, at the end of the eighties, when he answered the phone: on the other end,

a desperate girl was threatening to commit suicide.

As a goldsmith of the word, after listening to her for an hour, he consoled her.

"The strength of the radio... For her, I wasn't me at that moment, it was the radio itself", the Spanish "radiologist" Gorka Zumeta, who studies the behavior of listeners, analyzes the changes at the microphone and He examines as a surgeon that which is not seen, the air.

Journalist, author of books, university professor, lecturer and consultant, "Mister Radiografía" does not know -or understand- what life is like without the company of that friend.

He delves into data such as that

the average age of a radio listener is 53 years old and does not stop aging

, but he also focuses the microscope on a science fiction future: robots.

Just as Artificial Intelligence can -for example- predict and reduce disaster risks in meteorological matters, collaborate in health or cybersecurity, why not think about possible disasters by sticking its "nose" into other everyday corners.

The founder of Microsoft already said it: "the risk is that it gets out of human control."

An image of the International Radio and Television Fair (IFA) in Berlin (Germany), in 2017. (EFE).

-A few days ago the first radio made by artificial intelligence was launched.

Sounds Apocalyptic: Will Robots Take Over Radio?

-What not long ago was a fantastic argument for a movie, today is a reality.

Radio GPT is a radio managed by Artificial Intelligence.

This is the first great headline that has struck and seduced us, there is no doubt.

But I see it from the most prosaic point of view: it is the cheapest radio that exists, because it is contained in a computer.

And the soul of a medium as warm and fascinating as radio cannot be contained in a computer.

I qualify the answer: the robots will seize part of the radio.

-A robot can give news, traffic update, present songs.

Are we going towards an impersonal radio?

-Without a doubt, but above all we are going to a cheaper radio, and without a human component (and yes, a humanoid one, which is not the same).

Can what comes with AI be understood as progress?

As a professional more linked to content than to management, which cannot be underestimated in any way, I don't see it as progress in itself, but rather as lowering the cost of a process.

However, we must start from one piece of information: the profitability of music radio compared to general radio (content) is much higher.

It is much more profitable to launch a music radio than news and programs.

In this sense, incorporating AI into a music radio can make them appear -which will arise- like mushrooms, because costs are much more contained and virtual DJs do not request sick leave, take vacations or strike to improve the agreement collective.

Actually, what the radio is at stake in this story is the soul.

What already exists: the cloning of voices, the machines putting music to music and presenting the news.

(Photo: Rafael Mario Quinteros).

-What was your feeling when listening to the radio made with Artificial Intelligence? 

-Radio GPT accompanies you for a while, in the background, and there are even moments in which you can believe that the DJ's are flesh and blood.

It seems.

But there comes a time when you discover the repetitive coordinates in which it moves.

On the other hand, I think that deep down, music radio has been getting poorer over the years.

-Why do you think so?

-From that music radio station of the 80s and 90s in Spain in which the presenters were authentic, solid and reliable, with their own criteria, who opened their mouths recommending a record and you immediately bought it, they went on to an inflexible radio formula that limited the interventions of the announcers to little more than the hour, the weather and the name of the artist, and this with luck.

Somehow, the most 'cold' music radio, in which marketing imposed its rules with consultants leading, prisoners of surveys and focus groups, gradually cooled the product and indirectly encouraged AI to now have it a lot. easier to get listeners, because they are very similar.

-Imagine that an artificial voice like that of Alexa (virtual assistant developed by Amazon) can generate a habit and charm a listener?

-We have spent many years listening to synthetic voices in airports and stations, and nobody tore their clothes.

In fact, there are those who believe that when they are notified of a platform change, it is a person who is speaking.

Technology has advanced, voice synthesis has become much more perfect.

In English it is almost imperceptible.

And in Spanish they take a little more time to reach the perfection of English.

It's just a matter of time.

Another matter is that it comes to “enchant us”.

The rhythm of the voice, the tone, the management of silences, the inflections... the humanity that a voice gives off, the ability to suddenly react to an unforeseen event are part of the human condition.

It will happen to the radio as to bread.

like bread?

-There are those who buy industrial and pre-cooked bread every day and there are those who prefer artisan bread.

Far away a long time ago.... Radio sets from different eras.

-We would be facing the possibility of a great labor attack on the radio.

Do you see it feasible in the case of Spain or Argentina in the medium term?

I don't think anyone is in a position to see the limits of AI.

In this sense, it gives me an unsettling feeling.

Let's not forget that voice synthesis allows us to clone our voice in a very reliable way and that, in some security systems, the voice is considered an authentication element, like the iris of the eye.

What could happen if a computer impersonates us and impersonates us?

-It seems that in radio there is nothing new under the sun, beyond forks like podcasts.

Is it so? 

-Let's not forget that content is still king and, in this sense, there is a greater effort in the field of podcasts to offer a greater variety of topics.

But, for the moment, 'the roller' of the radio, in a matter of audiences, is final.

The penetration between one and the other has nothing to do with it.

Although the trends are clear.

-And what do the trends indicate?

-Radio audience decreases (it is 'fed' by the older generations) while the podcast grows (by the younger ones).

A director of the Spanish radio station affirmed that "the radio takes the listeners and the podcasts the headlines."

In a world, right now, where the Golden Fleece is all that sounds digital, radio seems to recede.

So much so that there is even an erroneous perception of the strength of the radio against the podcast by media planners, who consider, far removed from reality, that the radio is nothing short of dead and that the podcast is the king of audio

-During the pandemic, certain audiences reconciled with the radio.

Did the post-pandemic lead to an abandonment of so much listening?

-The pandemic changed our lives, completely.

It changed our consumption habits.

It delayed the prime time of the radio (because we got up later and we didn't have to travel), it radically cut the consumption of radio in the car (we were confined at home), we worked in front of the computer and we consumed more, for convenience, online radio , or podcast... There was a greater need for information about what was happening to us, and the demand for radio content increased.

With the recovery of normality, all these changes have progressively returned to normality.

- Do you know what was the fate of the girl with the desperate call who saw a shelter for relief on the radio?

I think I saved that life.

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Source: clarin

All news articles on 2023-03-25

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