Light Wave


Don’t Tell Howard Stern! Portland Radio Station Unveils First AI Radio DJ

By Jake Beardslee · July 29, 2023

An Oregon radio station has debuted an AI disc jockey modeled on the voice of an actual radio host.  DALL·E 2

An Oregon radio station recently debuted an artificial intelligence DJ modeled after the voice of a real-life radio host. Ashley Z, the world’s first AI radio host, is now on the air at Live 95.5 in Portland.

“We wanted to make sure that we were always transparent and saying, okay, when she’s Ashley Z, she’s going to say, ‘Hey, it’s Ashley Z.’ And when it’s Ashley, she will always address herself as Ashley,” Live 95.5 Portland content director Dylan Salisbury told NBC News.

The AI DJ, powered by Radio GPT, serves as a fill-in host when the real Ashley Elzinga, who is based in Michigan, is unavailable. “There are two different ways you can have [AI] Ashley on the air. There’s one where I write verbatim what I want her to say. And then there’s another back-end way, where I just say, ‘Here’s the kind of copy points of what I want Ashley to say.’ And it runs itself,” Salisbury explained.

While listeners seem receptive, radio industry professionals are concerned over the threat AI poses to their careers. “We’ve gotten a lot of pushback and concern from the radio industry more than anything else… [T]hey’re very… concerned - and rightfully so - with AI and their jobs,” said Salisbury.

However, the human Ashley, whom the AI DJ is modeled after, isn’t too worried about being replaced. “I know that I’m good at what I do. I know that I love what I do. And I want to do things better than maybe we have been before. I think that this is an opportunity to do that,” she said.

For now, the station sees the AI DJ as a way to market the company rather than a replacement for human talent. “We’re not going to… replace Ashley with Ashley. She’s just an extension of of the brand,” Salisbury insisted.

The real Ashley Z even sees creative possibilities with her new AI alter ego. “Today I go from just Ashley to AI Ashley on Live 95.5. If we’re going to incorporate her in some way and make it entertaining, we have to create how this is going to look and every single thing that goes into it,” she said.

Where things go from here with the AI DJ remains to be seen. “We honestly have no idea at this point where we’re going to take Ashley… It’s pretty exciting,” said Salisbury.

Light Wave commentary

The debut of an AI radio host modeled after a real DJ’s voice marks an intriguing development in the world of radio and artificial intelligence. Many in the industry voice serious concerns over their careers and incomes. Understandably so. The Live 95.5 example, however, shows AI does not necessarily spell doom for human talent. No matter - AI is here to stay. With an open mind and a little creativity there will be a way forward. There has to be!