Changing the game to stop new players


Content by Ciarán Moffatt

I was catching up on podcasts this week when I got to the highly anticipated new series of Radio Game Changers: The Melbourne Radio Wars.

Having studied at The Australian Radio School, I’ve met Craig Bruce on several occasions and he has always been held up as an experienced and insightful voice and as such I was keen to hear about the changes facing the industry at this time.

However what stopped me in my tracks, moments into the episode was the disclaimer:

“This series contains the use of AI generated voices. Listener discretion is advised.”

I used my discretion, stopped listening and immediately unfollowed the podcast.

AI is creeping into this industry further and further and the arguments all seem to be focusing on how we can use this technology now instead of what it is doing for the future.

Every time you use AI for the little things you don’t want to do (or don’t want to pay for, let’s be real here) you contribute to building an industry that is harsher for all creatives and harder for beginners to get started in.

The BBC announced last month that it would be using AI to create social and email copy. A move they would later reverse after public outcry.

So you’re writing copy that’s dull and boring and you’ve done it a million times? Then give someone starting out a chance. How else are people to learn but with repetition of basic work to build that foundation? When you use AI to generate this work, you are taking that learning experience away.

You’re using AI to generate art? Look me in the eye and tell me you’re doing it for any reason other than you don’t want to pay an artist what they are worth.

The most egregious of all: taking someone’s voice?

There are these things called actors. Imitators of every kind and some of them are cheap. Some of them will even do things for exposure. I work on voice marketplaces and, starting out, I did a lot for nothing. That’s not perfect but it’s better than this. Get your partner, get your granny even but there is no excuse to take away someone’s voice with AI.

Now I’ll admit I didn’t stick around to hear how AI was used in Melbourne Radio Wars but the point that seems to keep being missed around AI is that however you use it, you train it.

You may think the way you’re using AI is totally innocuous but in doing so you make it stronger for the people who are happily using it to take away livelihoods.

You are responsible for your actions. You may not be able to see them immediately but someone lost their job because of the knock on effect of you trying to save some money and play with your new toy.

You are accountable.

To depressingly accurately adapt a quote:

AI doesn’t hurt people, People using AI do.

I hope that the next time Craig Bruce is faced with a room of radio school students (or any young person) starting out in this industry he can think hard about whether or not he is making the industry a place for them to thrive.

In response, Craig Bruce told Radio Today “The only AI we’re using on the podcast is Kyle’s voice right at the start, so it’s roughly 7 seconds of a 35 minute episode. We’ve done it as a lark, nothing more, nothing less. We may use Kyle’s AI voice if we’re referencing something he’s said in the press, but that will be the extent of it.

“Having said that, I can sound a little robotic at times, but that’s purely nerves and me talking too fast …”

 “I’m with you all the way on your general sentiment Ciaran, AI can be super helpful in production, admin etc – but the idea of replacing real voices with AI generated versions is horrifying.”

Ciarán Moffatt is a Podcaster, Voice Actor and Australian Radio School Graduate. He is the Co-founder of the P. Zinner & Co. podcast network and winner of the Radio Today Podcasting Awards RØDE Prize.

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