Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

That is Sizzling Pod, The Verge’s e-newsletter about podcasting and the audio trade. Enroll right here for extra.

It’s been fairly sluggish within the audio world for the previous few weeks — besides in relation to AI, which appears to be progressing at a clip. 

At this time, ChatGPT involves radio, NPR staff put together for layoffs, and Spotify expands its audiobook enterprise.

Widespread layoffs anticipated this week at NPR

Final month, NPR CEO John Lansing introduced that the community would lay off 10 p.c of its workforce to cowl an anticipated $30 million funds shortfall this 12 months. That is the week ultimate selections are anticipated to come back down, and staff are bracing for the cuts. Many have taken to Twitter to garner assist for his or her colleagues, whereas others implored public radio followers to donate to their native stations. 

“This week is heavy right here @NPR,” tweeted Morning Version host Leila Fadel. “The layoffs turn into actual and we are going to lose colleagues who work so arduous to placed on our programming on a regular basis. We don’t know who will go however we all know that everybody who’s right here now… we’d like them. Powerful days forward.”

NPR didn’t reply to Sizzling Pod’s request on the timing of the layoffs. I’ll have extra for Insiders later this week on the extent of the cuts.

RadioGPT makes it straightforward to switch human DJs with bots

That’s very reassuring, given the state of radio. Axios Cleveland stories that native enterprise Futuri has launched a product referred to as RadioGPT, which may theoretically do many of the work of manning a radio station with out human labor. 

Based on the web site, it makes use of GPT-4-powered bots that may carry out interstitial chats concerning the music lineup, native climate, and information and even discipline listener feedback and questions. RadioGPT may also do duties that might in any other case be the area of interns and entry-level staffers, like creating complimentary weblog posts, changing stay exhibits into podcasts, and social media.

In contrast to the deeply wonky AI Radio, which I reported on final month, this isn’t only a enjoyable thought experiment. Based on Axios, the product will debut subsequent month with Alpha Media and Rogers Sports activities & Media, which signify greater than 250 stations mixed throughout the US and Canada. 

Futuri CEO Daniel Anstandig advised Axios that the product was meant to “save radio, not compete with it” by filling hours that stations can’t man anyway. “What we’re seeking to do is increase a station’s capability to fill its programming with extra stay and native content material,” he stated.

The way in which Anstandig positions it’s that for a lot of radio stations, it’s AI or it’s nothing. Which may be true in some circumstances, however the firms which have signed up to date aren’t precisely indies. It appears extra doubtless that radio firms may have the chance to make use of this instrument (or others prefer it) as a method to chop their labor power and scale back the already diminishing audio trade pipeline.

Most Enjoyable podcast community converts to a worker-owned cooperative

Most Enjoyable, the podcast community based by Bullseye host Jesse Thorn, is transitioning from a extra conventional company construction to a worker-owned cooperative (in the identical vein as Defector). Most Enjoyable’s two dozen staff will share possession of and decision-making energy over the corporate, which produces comedy and popular culture exhibits like The Journey Zone and My Brother, My Brother and Me. 

“I didn’t construct this firm to be bought off to the very best bidder,” Thorn stated in an announcement. “I constructed it to make nice stuff. I don’t belief massive tech firms to steward this operation. I do belief the individuals who’ve constructed it with me.” 

It’s an uncommon transfer in a time when studios appear to be consolidated below massive firms. However Defector, with its megahit Regular Gossip and extremely revered sports activities and tradition journalism, has proven that such preparations can produce good work (and even be profitable!). With so many individuals laid off from the large audio firms and creators’ elevated consciousness of the worth of proudly owning their work, I might not be shocked if we noticed extra smaller audio firms transfer on this course. Although, that might in all probability look extra like Defector, which was based that technique to start with, than Most Enjoyable, during which the proprietor willingly provides up most of his stake.

Spotify expands audiobook vertical to Canada

Spotify should be determining the way forward for its audiobook enterprise, however within the meantime, the corporate is increasing the vertical’s footprint. At this time, the corporate introduced that audiobooks will now be accessible for buy in Canada. Spotify’s catalog consists of greater than 350,000 titles to date and was beforehand solely accessible within the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

That’s all for now. See you subsequent week.

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