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30 May 2023


AI is rapidly changing the world of advertising and its influence is having a transformational impact on the audio sector, but nothing will change the human heart at the centre of radio.

On Thursday 25th May, we explored how AI is enhancing the radio experience at IAB UK’s Engage conference. The event covered the world of AI and its effects across the advertising industry and wider society. Sessions looked at ChatGPT and machine learning, avatars, algorithms and which aspects of AI are emerging in technology and becoming more accessible and commonplace for consumers in the digital sphere.

Our session featured Magic Radio Breakfast presenter Harriet Scott, Absolute Radio’s Content Director Paul Sylvester and Bauer’s Chief Products and Platforms Officer Shana Hills. The trio used their wealth of knowledge on the audio space, to discuss how AI is becoming more prevalent in radio and what’s to come in the future.

Kicking off the discussion was the big question – how can we bring new AI technology into the world of audio while still retaining the trust of broadcast radio? Shana made the argument that learning how to create great experiences across devices and in different online spaces takes considered experimentation and thought, which right now for radio is mainly within the realm of smart speakers. Therefore, to retain the trust in radio it is “important that smart speakers and voice assistants are appropriately regulated to prevent unfair market imbalances, and to preserve consumer choice.”

Speaking on the impacts of AI at Absolute Radio, Paul quipped that “video didn’t kill the radio star, and AI won’t kill the radio star either”, asserting that nurturing the intimate connection that audiences have with stations and presenters is at the heart of everything Bauer does. At the same time, Paul made it clear that radio is a medium that never stands still – innovation is a key reason that it has withstood the tests of time. “What AI can do is help make radio content live beyond the traditional time bands of radio shows”. Paul used Absolute Radio’s 5 words segment with Dave Berry as an example of how AI has helped the game evolve to involve audiences through smart speaker devices, allowing them to play themselves, whenever they want.

Paul explained that this evolution of an already trusted medium is driving deeper connection for both listeners and advertisers. “It’s about using AI as a shared experience as well as a personal experience”, which is why the use of technology won’t change radio in terms of why people listen or what they listen to, rather that “it allows us to find new ways to create content and take it to the next level”.

Shana concluded the session by looking at the future of AI and radio and how “there’s lots more that we can do to leverage the interactivity of the format – particularly relating to skills, games and interactive ads… this can help us create additional value for listeners”. Paul added that while there is need to innovate, it must be done by building on radio’s key strengths of emotional relationships between listeners and presenters to create exciting new layers of connection with the audience – people want human connection more than ever, and radio can do something that an AI DJ just can’t.

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