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July 24, 2018 7:50 pm  #1


Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

In part one of a very interesting piece on FYImusicnews.ca, radio veteran Pat Holiday outlines why, as those so-called "smart speakers" like Alexa become more common in homes, they'll either save radio or kill it. And like in the days of being the first to grab a valuable and memorable website address, why stations should be solidifying their brands for the speakers now, before someone else beats them to it - and why it may already be too late. 

From the article:

"Some actual examples of me, in Toronto, wanting to get Toronto or other specific stations, on my smart speakers. In each instance I’m alerting the unit, “Alexa” and then saying “play”… 

“Alexa, play Kiss FM”

This is what I ask for versus what I actually get.

Kiss Radio                 =          Kiss Vancouver
Kiss FM                      =          KIIS L.A. (blocked) or a Kiss station in Italy

Virgin Radio             =          Paris
Virgin Radio 999     =          Rural Catholic Radio
Virgin FM                  =          Italy (Milan)
Virgin 999                            =          Nothing
Virgin Ninety-Nine 9                      =          Nothing
Virgin Radio Calgary                      =          Paris
Virgin Radio Vancouver   =          Paris
99-point 9 Virgin Radio  =          Correct station

AM740                     =          Correct station

AM640                     =          Correct station

CFRB                          =          Correct station
Newstalk Ten Ten =          Correct station

Mix FM                      =          Ireland or Britain (couldn’t tell)
Mix Radio                 =          Defaults to same as Mix FM

Boom FM                  =          Nothing
Boom Radio             =          Nothing
Boom 97 point 3    =          Correct station

Energy Radio                       =          Nothing
Energy FM                =          Nothing

Heart FM                  =          Some station in Eastern Europe
Heart Radio              =          Bounces to ‘iHeart Radio not available in your country’

Bob FM         =          Nothing

Jazz FM         =          London England
Jazz Radio     =          Nothing

KIX FM or KIX Radio  = Defaults to KISS because it can’t tell the difference in words between KIX and KISS no matter how clearly I tried to say it.

See the problem?  Your station can become very hard, or impossible, to tune to."

There is a lot more. Read the rest of "Smart Speakers Challenge Current Radio IDs" here. 

 

July 24, 2018 9:14 pm  #2


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

That may be why stations like Boom are smart to say "THIS IS CHBM FM...but you can call us BOOM!"
By making the call letters clear as day, maybe the listeners will know to say "Alexia...play CHBM!" 

Virgin radio really should stop racing through "CKFM" like an auctioneer and try the same thing. 

I don't actually own an Alexia though...so is it true that actual call letters like CHFI etc are instantly playing the correct radio station? Or are there still errors?

 

July 24, 2018 11:24 pm  #3


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

Real artificial intelligence
You: Alexa call me a cab.
Alexa: You're a cab.

Until then, radio stations are stuck trying to work though the hits and misses, and sillness.

I don't have a smart(ass) speaker, even Google assistant is a pain in the tocas.Besides, I still get a kick flipping up and down the dial, and stopping on a station I haven't heard in awhile.

I've just remembered Space, Gary Bell, and I wonder what, if any theory he would have about the oddity that is Alexa, (and Siri) and the fact that the spoken request for certain stations are understood, while others get "lost".😎

 

July 25, 2018 3:50 pm  #4


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

Radiowiz wrote:

...stations like Boom are smart to say "THIS IS CHBM FM...but you can call us BOOM!"
By making the call letters clear as day, maybe the listeners will know to say "Alexia...play CHBM!"

Virgin radio really should stop racing through "CKFM" like an auctioneer and try the same thing.

It would have been interesting to see how quickly Pat had gotten Boom or Virgin if he had used nothing but call letters, something he didn't do in either case.
The rush through "CKFM" is probably a carryover from the days when the CRTC required a full, top-hour ID, while the station felt, 'We're forced to do this once an hour, but we're "Virgin" now.'
In both instances, "99 POINT 9" and "97 POINT 3" were the charm.

I don't actually own an Alexia though...so is it true that actual call letters like CHFI etc are instantly playing the correct radio station? Or are there still errors?

Can't answer that, wiz, but it might be worth throwing in 'Toronto' to narrow the target. Alexa, at times, appears to need as much information as possible and the frequency said in a specific way.
Use of the station frequency looks like it may be as important as it was years ago on the air and in print.
 

Last edited by mike marshall (July 25, 2018 4:01 pm)

 

July 25, 2018 4:26 pm  #5


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

betaylored wrote:

I've just remembered Space, Gary Bell, and I wonder what, if any theory he would have about the oddity that is Alexa, (and Siri) and the fact that the spoken request for certain stations are understood, while others get "lost".😎

betaylored, I'm wondering if your whole post is tongue-in-cheek, because your use of the word "oddity" strikes me as rather dismissive. It appears that every house will have at least one of these smart speakers in the near future.
We don't have one, simply because we have no need. I find Pat Holiday's article fascinating (look forward to Part II) but at my age, it's important that I get off my ass as often as possible, rather that shouting orders (politely). ;-)
 

 

July 25, 2018 4:42 pm  #6


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

Most of these "smart" devices can be trained (or "favorited") in terms of your audio selection. For instance, you can train the device to turn on Boom 97.3 by uttering the phrase "play radio". Ditto that of any chained transaction. You can set-up a chain of turning on a bedside lamp, playing a certain station, turning off the downstairs lights and turning on the alarm with the phrase "goodnight". 

I find these devices handy when dealing with porn as the spouse comes home. Certainly, you don't want them to be aware that you're watching Eastern European adult cinema whilst engaging in self-massage, so when the smart system detects the garage door going up, the device shuts off the widescreen, turns on an electric aroma candle, turns off the vibrating bed, turns off the subtle but distinct cd of tribal pygmies banging drums while chanting volcano sacrifice incantations and flushes the toilet.

 

July 25, 2018 5:44 pm  #7


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

I am wondering if Alexa would stop talking to me if I asked her to play CKNT...

I am worried, I might offend her and she'd shut down on me.

I think I'll stick CHBM... 

 

Last edited by Muffaraw Joe (July 25, 2018 7:43 pm)


The world would be so good if it weren't for some people...
 

July 25, 2018 7:42 pm  #8


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

mike marshall wrote:

betaylored wrote:

I've just remembered Space, Gary Bell, and I wonder what, if any theory he would have about the oddity that is Alexa, (and Siri) and the fact that the spoken request for certain stations are understood, while others get "lost".😎

betaylored, I'm wondering if your whole post is tongue-in-cheek, because your use of the word "oddity" strikes me as rather dismissive. It appears that every house will have at least one of these smart speakers in the near future.
We don't have one, simply because we have no need. I find Pat Holiday's article fascinating (look forward to Part II) but at my age, it's important that I get off my ass as often as possible, rather that shouting orders (politely). ;-)
 

 
Nope, not tongue-in-cheek, just feverish from the heat and humidity.

Seriously though, I love most technology, but because of the security concerns, and other glitches, I find smart speakers odd, creepy, and more annoying than helpful, like the autocorrect feature when I'm typing on my cellphone (which I find aggravating and bloody bossy).

And you're right mike marshall, someday we'll all have to have one. Shades of the terrific popcorn movie "I, Robot" with Will Smith. (shudder)

I'm looking forward to part two of the article as well.

Last edited by betaylored (July 25, 2018 8:00 pm)

 

July 25, 2018 8:08 pm  #9


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who might be labelled a Luddite about this technology. I can't see myself getting one of these in the immediate future or beyond. It's just too creepy to have a device that's always listening to your every word, even if you're not talking to it. 

And as we found out with Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, there's no honour among thieves, even if they tell you that it's not recording anything or listening to conversations or sending info back anywhere. I'm not a tinfoil hat type, but I simply don't believe them and I don't know that there's any way to prove it. 
  
For the time being, I'm very happy to tune in my own radio, hear select audio streaming on my laptop or - the horror! - turn on my own lights.

That said, I acknowledge that most people don't feel his way, and these things may well turn out to be a significant player in a lot of households so broadcasters need to pay attention to them.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to ask Hal to open the pod bay doors...


   

     Thread Starter
 

July 25, 2018 9:21 pm  #10


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

Count me as a fellow "luddite|" concerning this piece of tech.

I am a lifelong space geek and as a rule am pro technology;  although I'm not one to buy the latest products just because they are new.

Regarding these new gizmos,  reports of them forwarding/broadcasting conversations picked up by their microphones to third parties,  is enough for me to say no thanks!

 

July 26, 2018 1:11 am  #11


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

...and then there's this: 





 

 

July 27, 2018 7:09 am  #12


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

In part 2 of his article on FYImusicnews.ca, Holiday gets controversial, arguing for a massive overhaul of radio that would create super stations across the country, in order to better monetize the new way of listening to the medium.

What happens to local content that seems to be such a vital part of broadcasting as it now exists? 

From the article:

"But there’s no live and local!!"

Well, let’s look at that. Time, local weather, local news, local traffic, winter school closing: all on your phone, iPad, computer or these speakers instantly. No waiting for the radio station format to come around and do it. Instant. You can argue pretty quickly that a station (TV or Radio) is now mostly obsolete for these services. Ok, let’s be kind. How about redundant.


"Also, most radio stations have killed the time and news after mornings already. So, what’s left that’s local?  Traffic and commercials. That’s pretty much it really. Most certainly ads won’t disappear so not a lot missing."

I'm not sure I want to live in Pat's envisioned radio world, but you can decide for yourself if he has a point by reading the rest here.

     Thread Starter
 

July 27, 2018 8:47 am  #13


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

RadioActive wrote:

I'm not sure I want to live in Pat's envisioned radio world

I hate to tell you, RA, but that "world" is ALREADY here.
 

 

July 27, 2018 9:04 am  #14


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

Perhaps and it's exactly what I expected you to say.

However, there's a reason I don't listen to a lot of CBC Radio. While I have an interest in what goes on elsewhere in this country, I really don't care about clam fishing in Newfoundland. (I'm not making this up - CBC actually did a half hour documentary on this topic a long time ago.) 

Network radio, with only marginal local input, would obviate the need for a CFRB or a 640. After all, do people in Vancouver care about Doug Ford trying to reduce the size of Toronto City Council? I doubt it would even be discussed here if it was happening there and not here. 

Yet this morning's radio was very interesting to me precisely because it WAS local and directly affects me. By Pat's logic, it would just get a quick mention (if at all) and we'd be on to something else. And all so if I tell my smart speaker to bring up Newstalk, I don't get KFI in L.A.? (which would be geoblocked in Canada anyway, thanks to a foolish decision by CBS, but that's another topic altogether.)

I realize he's mostly talking about music formats, where it's not such a big deal. But how would a 680 News survive in such a scenario? We tried that here a long time ago - it was called CKO and it went off the air a few years later. (Ironically, it's the frequency CBC Radio 1 now occupies in T.O.) 

It may not be the economic powerhouse it once was, but local radio still matters to me. Always will. If they all went network, as Holiday suggests, I'd find something else to listen to as I walk the dog. And it wouldn't be a Vancouver dog.

     Thread Starter
 

July 27, 2018 9:20 am  #15


Re: Pat Holiday: Why Smart Speakers Can Threaten Or Save Radio

Well, 640 is currently networked on the weekdays 7:00pm-5:30am and on the weekends, they have networked shows with Roy Green.

Overnight, Drex talks about local (Vancouver) interests and I doubt the balance of the country cares. Similarly when he talks about Toronto and the balance probably switches off.

RB has some network content as well. They are slowly introducing more.