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Non-human DJ gets radio gig

Guile 3D Studio / YouTube

Denise, a virtual assistant designed by Guile 3D Studio, has been programmed to serve as a non-human DJ. "She" will take to the air on Aug. 24 from 1 to 4 pm CST on KROV in San Antonio, Texas.

A non-human DJ will take to the airwaves next week in San Antonio, Texas, in what may mark another step on the path that puts flesh-and-blood radio personalities out of a job.

The DJ is an artificial intelligence program called Denise, who was built by Guile 3D Studio to serve as a virtual assistant to answer phone calls, check email, conduct Web searches and make appointments, among other tasks.


Dominique Garcia, a radio personality in San Antonio, purchased Denise for $200 and programmed the AI to serve as a DJ. Denise will hit the airwaves on Aug. 24 from 1 to 4 p.m. CST on KROV.

"A lot of radio DJs are pretty upset with me because it does work," Garcia told me.

For now, Denise requires human assistance to write the script for Denise's talk breaks and slot the voice track into the playlist.

For the most part, the script writer tells Denise exactly what to say, though "she" has the capability to tell jokes when asked, provide the weather forecast and look up things on the Internet. She can't, however, fill airspace by herself.

"That technology does not yet exist in the AI world," Garcia said. "It is not as sophisticated as that; that's the ideal situation."

In other words, Denise needs an operator who's talented enough to write a compelling script, teach her new jokes, prompt Web searches and, at least for now, type up a traffic report for her to give.

This operator work, according to Garcia, should be much cheaper labor than hiring a full-time human DJ and thus ultimately save radio stations millions of dollars.

"If you have a staff of five that is paid $100,000 a year each, that's half-a-million dollars," he said. "The entire (AI) program is $200, a one-time fee. You never have to pay an annual fee. It never has to go to the bathroom. It never goes on an egomaniac spree. It is always there."

A part-time laborer could be hired as Denise's human assistant, Garcia reckons, for about $10 an hour.

The program, Garcia notes, sounds "a tad robotic" and is far from possessing the quick-wit and ability to drone on unscripted for hours that allows some human DJs to command high salaries in today's market.

Nevertheless, for an off-the-shelf piece of software not even designed to be a DJ, the technology could be disruptive to the industry already facing threats from companies such as Pandora, the Internet radio station that hit 100 million users this July.

"This is something that can be done today if stations decide to run with it," Garcia said.

Station managers and other listeners might want to tune in to KROV on Aug. 24.

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John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com.