AI Didn’t Create This Masterpiece

AI is taking over the world. This artist refused to let the invasion of Artificial Intelligence corrupt our family tradition of decorating the Easter Bunny cakes. When I looked at the naked cake, Sponge Bob Square Pants was the first thing to pop into my brain. The five other kids at the table made a bunny with ears, whiskers, and white fur. Yawn.

I grabbed food coloring, available to all the participants, and dyed the coconut yellow. The eyes and mouth were created with jellybeans. The tongue was pink cake frosting and the eyelashes were made from black licorice.

Now, let’s think about all those ingredients. What do they have in common? Artificial. It’s artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial coconut, and too many chemical names to mention. Think about our world of artificial stuff. Artificial Christmas trees, Artificial crab (not a fan), Artificial flowers and plants (grandmother flashback), Artificial grass and turf, Artificial hearts, joints, and organs. The world is full of artificial!

Wait…what just happened?

There’s a disturbance in the radio broadcasting force right now. AI has been introduced to the owners and operators, and many DJs/Announcers/Presenters see this as a threat. They should. Technology may stumble and be delayed, but it rarely fails. Just ask radio leaders about streaming technology. Futuri Media has jumped out first with their solution for AI in the radio studio. This speaks more to the current condition of radio broadcasting. Futuri will make some radio stations sound better. That’s not a compliment to this century-old medium. The industry has created this reality. The smart people at Futuri are just trying to capitalize on a need.

I’m not disturbed by the presence of AI in the radio world, but I know some operators will use it to save money and not use it to sound better for the audience. I’m motivated by this invader. It’s a time for real talent to show their difference and their humanity.

Will we who understand the art of connecting with a listener step up and improve our connection? Will our humor, sadness, transparency, sarcasm, and compassion be real and in the moment? Will AI understand turning a phrase or talking in artistic sentence fragments over a Harry Styles song intro? Will this be a wake-up call to entertain and be different? Will the industry retain the talented, crazy, weird humans to make this happen?

Is the price right?

Comedian Drew Carey has a show on Sirius/XM. A few weeks ago, he experimented with AI and didn’t tell the audience. He used an artificially generated voice to sound like his. ChatGpt created the script. Some of his fans were not pleased and complained on Twitter that he was “soulless,” according to a story in Engadget. “The reason FM stations and treasured radio stations still make money is because people like the personality of the DJs,” he said.

Okay, that makes radio talent breathe a little easier. But it’s early. The code writers are working to improve their version of Drew Carey right now. We don’t expect the top-level comedians and journalists to be replaced. But that little station in the Iowa farm community might have a voice on the Overnight show for the first time in decades. What if the commercials were written better and the clients got more business because they bought a schedule on your 10,000-watt station?

College students make the best focus group

Back to my Sponge Bob creation. We had five college students at the Easter dinner table this year. At one point in the conversation, I asked them to tell us their least favorite class this semester. Asking the most favorite doesn’t solicit as much passion. We went around the room and laughed about their freshman college experience. Then I asked about ChatGpt. It didn’t solicit as much talk as I assumed it would.

The journalism major in the room was a bit concerned. I said, “But you have to gather the story’s facts.” The biology, fashion design, and business majors weren’t very passionate about the topic. Most of the conversation came from the older adults. Maybe, like most things, we see or imagine a threat that 19-year-olds don’t see.

But the music major made a funny remark about songwriting and said, “Well, I’d like to see AI perform live on stage.” I said, “They already have it. The Chuck E. Cheese band.”

Create something AI can’t do right now. Real passion. I’m already thinking about next year’s Easter cake. Princess Peach?

(originally published on LinkedIn April 12, 2023)


Ron Harrell is a contemporary media consultant specializing in brand analysis, strategy, execution, and talent coaching for radio and audio mediums. Connect with him for a No Cut & Paste review at

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