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AI-powered radio stations hit Nashville airwaves


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Two new radio stations in Nashville are powered using artificial intelligence to broadcast music for highly specific audiences.

“It’s making the creation of radio experiences so much faster and more efficient, that we can actually take the time to invest in these really localized interesting formats, like the ones that we’ve launched in Nashville,” said Super Hi-Fi CEO Zack Zalon.

Zalon’s company has partnered with Xperi and Cumulus Media to broadcast two HD radio stations on 104.5FM HD2 and HD3: “The Hill” and “Nashville Songwriter Radio.”

“The Hill” is meant for high school students and spans multiple genres while “Nashville Songwriter Radio” highlights songs from Nashville singers and songwriters.

“These kinds of stations are designed to bring the artists up that really deserve that kind of attention that would never get that attention through just a plain algorithm alone,” Zalon said.

Zalon said the stations use AI in concert with humans to bring hyper-specific stations cost-effectively.

Humans record song introductions and curate a large selection of music, and then the AI selects the songs and introductions and broadcasts the show.

“The humans are selecting all the ingredients and putting it all on a plate, and then the AI is kind of selecting those ingredients, mixing it all together and creating the final stew, the final dish,” Zalon explained.

Zalon said this use of AI won’t cost anyone their jobs in the short run because the technology speeds up tasks and doesn’t eliminate them.

“The best way to think about it is it’s like a power tool for the human to supplement what they’re doing,” he said.

Many Nashville musicians are worried artificial intelligence will hurt their industry and/or take jobs, but Belmont University music business professor Clyde Rolston is optimistic about AI and radio.

“I think it’s great for Nashville. People who aren’t necessarily signed to a big publishing company have the potential to get exposure that they might not get otherwise, and that’s a great thing for those artists and those songwriters,” Rolston said.

“I see this is just as the next step, and in radio embracing technology,” he added.