Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Denise": Hot, New Chick Or Your Replacement?

Have you heard about "Denise"?  She's the new, computer-generated, "artificial intelligence" DJ who made her debut on a public station in San Antonio last week.  Some of us probably tuned into to Denise’s debut and, with the build-up and hype, were a little surprised to hear…well, a computer-generated voice. Didn’t matter that she gave away a prize or had some content on a song she played. 

There's a terrific piece on "Denise" from Jacobs Media today that features Denise's creator and it really got me thinking that if we're being totally honest with ourselves, we also hear ‘live’ (or Memorex) talent that may as well be computer-generated. Radio peeps often complain about how repetitive radio is but it’s almost always in reference to the music. How often do we hear the same jocks on the same stations say their calls/logo, positioner, name, etc. exactly the same way at the same pace & intensity ever break, every hour, day after day?  Far too often. I’ve referred to this as “McDonald’s Drive Thru Syndrome”, where the voices on those little boxes are often just noise because they say the same ol' scripted greeting hundreds of times a day and just rip through it as fast as possible so they can get to our order.

Do we really buy the "radio's talent pool isn't what it once was" lament?  I sure don't.  I do believe that some in our business have dedicated a lot less time coaching and developing great talent.  There are a lot of bright, skilled, terrific personalities on-the-air these days who simply aren’t being coached and encouraged to break out of the “by request”, “partly cloudy”, “register to win”, “keep it here” mindset and go for sounding fresh, using words as colors to make your canvas unique and different every time you grab a brush.

Many things in our business have changed a lot in the past 10-15 years but something that should never change is inspired talent using your skills, heart and words to be anything BUT programmed, predictable and assembly- lined into a digital delivery system.   As an industry, we're pretty silly to concede developing great talent simply because of voicetracking and force reduction.  That feels like an excuse for stations (and jocks) who don't sound topical, relevant, entertaining and inspired.

Live or tracked, WE have the choice. I suppose if a PD or market manager OK with their jocks just mailing it in, they’ll get out of the speakers what they’re putting in- not much.  This is not at all intended to be preachy or a lecture but simply encouragement to keep voices like Denise irrelevant by making sure we aren’t… ever.

Over the next several days, we'll share some thoughts on how you, as an on-air talent, can avoid the usual ruts and routines that might have you sounding ordinary instead of fresh and unique.

Thanks & KEEP ROCKIN'!

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