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Thread: You want The Truth? You can't handle The Truth!

  1. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by fordranger797 View Post
    I wonder what we are all supposed to do when computers can do every single job currently being done.
    I have pondered the exact same question for awhile myself...

    The answer lies in South Lake Union, where Jeff Bezos has posted up shop. People will need to program, provide support and customer service for these beasts. At least for right now. If Trump has his way, we will be taking all those jobs we exported to Mexico and China and boosting our manufacturing again. However, what he fails to realize, just like the computerization of our society, is that these ideas have been implimented by businesses whose primary goal is maximizing profit for the shareholders. If that means cars get produced in Mexico or service employees get replaced by robots, so be it; as long as it saves a buck!

    My "day job" is in hotels. At the property I work at, we will be going to "digital" keys on your smartphone next year. The eventual goal will be to reduce staffing at the front desk and time spent by the guest checking in. If people aren't coming to the desk to check in, all you need is one person to answer phones, give info on where to eat, put a "face" to the property, and babysit the machines.

    Remember, computers don't call off, threaten to unionize, ask for raises, or sexually harass other computers!

    Radio-X
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  2. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Radio-X View Post
    Once the current slate of folks have retired out or are put 'on the beach', with advances in text-to-speech and artificial intelligence, it is entirely possible an entire 4-5 station cluster with a full 24/7 slate of on-air "hosts" will be run entirely by one person in programming, possibly a receptionist, and the normal contingent of sales staff. The "human" aspect of radio may be mostly eliminated!
    That's not what the major companies are doing. In fact in the last few months, Cumulus has been cutting back on syndication and replacing it with local talent. Their reason: They can make more money with local talent than giving up half of their avails to the syndicator. Entercom, Cox, CBS, and many more are mostly local.

  3. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    That's not what the major companies are doing. In fact in the last few months, Cumulus has been cutting back on syndication and replacing it with local talent. Their reason: They can make more money with local talent than giving up half of their avails to the syndicator. Entercom, Cox, CBS, and many more are mostly local.
    Cumulus owns Westwood One...so if they are using WW1 syndication, they're just shifting the money from local ads to national. Still, if I'm a cluster GM...it's definitely something to think about to bolster the bottom line on a weak group of local stations. More especially if my company doesn't own the syndicated programming!

    In Seattle and most large markets, you are correct, sir. Local, absolutely...probably not live. Chances are even though they are local, they are likely voicetracked, especially out of dayparts and more especially outside of the top 50.

    It took me about an hour and some change to do show prep and VT a 5 hour show for a station...and I was one of the slow ones! The company whittled labor for that shift by 70-80% by switching from "live and local" to simply "local". The average listener doesn't notice the difference!

    Now, technology in the not too distant future will permit lifelike text-to-speech with varying voices on it...imagine reducing that remaining 20% of labor costs to 5% after the first year or so of installation. You keep the "local" aspect of your operation. You pay someone for 10-20 minutes of work to type out a few on-air breaks. If you're a large company, you can pay someone to do company-wide show prep for scores of stations or go with one of the show prep syndicators. Add an extra 10 minutes of labor in there to read the local paper on the internet and pick up an interesting local story/event or two...


    Of course, a crude version of this technology is likely already used in your town. NOAA WX Radio used to have meteorologists taping the forecasts several times a day until the early 90's. As the government is the king of cost-cutting (insert joke here), they avoided 80-90% of those labor costs by running the text forecasts already produced by NOAA folks into "Perfect Paul".

    I am afraid that if we fast forward 20 years, the radio station with jocks coming in to do a shift will be a rarity in the same way a station using a wall-to-wall mechanical automation system like Schafer is a rarity today (I know of only 2, maybe 3 stations in the US that still use those things...I'm sure there are a dozen or two still left in use though)

    Radio-X
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    Not for use in MD, CT, NY, Cook County IL, HI, UT, PR, and where otherwise prohibited by law

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Radio-X View Post
    Cumulus owns Westwood One...so if they are using WW1 syndication, they're just shifting the money from local ads to national.

    Radio-X
    But that's not what they're doing. In fact, Cumulus-owned radio stations like WMAL in DC are dropping syndicated talk shows like Savage for local hosts. Cumulus has never used any of the Westwood One 24/7 syndicated music formats on their stations. So no, that's exactly NOT what they're doing, and the new CEO is in fact giving local stations more autonomy for programming. And that includes their smallest markets.

    Here's a piece of advice: Just because a company CAN do something doesn't mean they WILL. Back when Clear Channel started buying up hundreds of stations, the concern was they'd fire all their local staffs and program their stations from a few studios in San Antonio. That never happened. That company still has almost 10,000 employees. Instead, Sirius and XM each launched 100 satellite-delivered radio stations from a handful of studios, and then they merged to form a satellite monopoly. No one seems to be complaining about the centralized national programming at SiriusXM. But people thought the exact same thing was going to happen at OTA radio 15 years ago, and they keep repeating that same Chicken Little theory every year. The sky is falling. I felt it on my head!
    Last edited by TheBigA; 11-29-2016 at 10:03 PM.

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    That's not what the major companies are doing. In fact in the last few months, Cumulus has been cutting back on syndication and replacing it with local talent. Their reason: They can make more money with local talent than giving up half of their avails to the syndicator. Entercom, Cox, CBS, and many more are mostly local.
    Well that's good news those of us "youngins" who are brining up the rear!

  6. #26

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    Did not know the first part about Cumulus not using WW1 for their own stations...

    However, you're missing my point. Yes, local jocks (and let's not get into talk radio for the sake of argument...which faces its own set of problems from two decades of mostly syndicated talking heads...lets just go into music-based stations with DJs) are on locally in most large markets not owned by iHeart. Radio station owners, just like any other business, are out to save money provided they don't cut off their nose to spite their face.

    20 years ago, voicetracking, while certainly not unheard of, was far less common and less cost-efficient. With improved technology, you have a large chunk of stations (over half) all around the country, even in big markets, doing some form of voicetracking. It costs the company far less to voicetrack via ISDN/internet/production studio than to have a jock live and local for a 4-6 hour shift. A publicly-traded company has a fiduciary responsibility to deliver the greatest amount of profits to its shareholders. Therefore, you see thousands of stations now voicetracking because it is the most cost-effective method and has been shown to not change the listening public's perception that a jock is "slaving over a hot microphone" in some downtown radio studio.

    Fast forward 20 years from now, the jock currently voicetracking may very well be replaced by locally-programmed text-to-speech programs. If the listening public does not change it's perspective (or simply doesn't care), why keep jocks voicetracking and pay them perfectly good money that should go to shareholders when you can pay one person for two hour's worth of work to program a cluster of 3-5 stations with "local" text-to-speech "jocks"? Pay them for another hour or two to update various social media profiles of these so-called "jocks", and you've got not much different than today's radio for 1/4th the talent labor costs!

    But I must agree, talk radio needs to get local to be of much relevance these days...then again, what do I know? I just push buttons on NexGen.

    Radio-X
    Proud to still be the least important paid worker in the Seattle/Tacoma media industry!

    Not for use in MD, CT, NY, Cook County IL, HI, UT, PR, and where otherwise prohibited by law

  7. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Radio-X View Post

    However, you're missing my point. Yes, local jocks are on locally in most large markets not owned by iHeart.
    In point of fact, all large market iHeart stations also have local talent. These stations are also among the most profitable stations in all of radio. That isn't by accident. They tend to use out-of-market talent mainly in markets that are not making their sales goals.

    Voicetracking was being (using reel to reel tape) done 60 years ago. Syndication was being done 60 years ago. The Golden Age of Radio was not local talent, but national syndication from radio networks based in New York. None of this is new. You're focusing on saving money. The goal of business is to make money. If it costs money to hire talent, but it makes more than automation, what should you do? As I said, the goal is to make money. I think that's what these companies have realized.

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigA View Post
    Cumulus has never used any of the Westwood One 24/7 syndicated music formats on their stations. So no, that's exactly NOT what they're doing, and the new CEO is in fact giving local stations more autonomy for programming. And that includes their smallest markets.
    Most of Cumulus's classic hip-hop formatted "Vibe" stations have launched using the Westwood One 24/7 satellite format.

    Tucson, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Minneapolis...

    Okay, Minneapolis has a local morning show and uses the net the rest of the day. But most of the stations they flipped to that format got the bird save for a mix show or two.
    The opinions expressed are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employers. Retweets are not endorsements.

  9. #29

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    Radio-X, . I think we've got a long way to go before we get to synthesized jocks on a majority of stations. As someone quite familiar with many of the different speech synthesizers out there now, there are only a couple I'd even consider using for even imaging work, so I think we're much farther out from that than you might think. I think what you might see is more stations doing something like what I understand the Upstate Radio Group in New York is doing, which is using talent from a voice tracking agency.
    I'm not sure I like that though, because that takes a position away from a local jock. Yes iHeart has local jocks in the big markets, but what gets me about them is there's maybe one local jock after 7. Here in Seattle KJR is locally tracked by one of the production guys, KPWK is live, and all the others are tracked from out of market as far as I know. In Portland, all but one is either tracked from out of market or syndicated. Across the two markets, that's 6 local jobs that could be brought back. Is evenings really that bad of a daypart, especially for new talent?

  10. #30
    It doesn't take long for an attempt to sound local with out of market talent to eventually show its true colors. I was taught years ago by an old Chicago radio pro, that it only takes a moment to turn away listeners from your station, but it may require months to try to win them back. I heard an example just this morning on the newly-restored Seattle traffic on Sirius-XM. The announcer went on in some detail about mile markers where there is a snow closure on State Route 20. You could tell he didn't realize that it's an annual event to close the mountain pass highways for the next 5 months or so. The Sirius-XM announcer, bless his heart, made it sound like it had just happened and would be cleared soon.

    By the way, the low bandwidth audio on most of the satellite radio channels already makes many of the announcers sound like robot voice recognition 'bots, even tho' I'm sure most of them aren't. I doubt that's a fitting precedent for local AM or FM radio to expect listeners won't be able to tell when a non-human is talking on their airwaves. Then again, many of the Seattle stations announcers don't sound very human to me anyway, so I guess it's all a wash. Just don't forget to think of how the listeners will experience what you're sending them.

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