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Podcasters: Here’s Why AI Can’t Replace You

 

The impact AI is making on the podcasting industry right now is undeniable. In fact, it’s kind of mind-blowing.

Since ChatGPT launched in November 2022, we’ve already seen a ton of new AI tools emerge on the podcasting market (and everywhere else, for that matter). So many that it’s made updating this AI tools for podcasters guide a never-ending task. 

These sophisticated AI tools are taking on many of the tasks we’re used to doing manually as podcasters. We’ve now got bots handling transcripts for us, creating press kits, generating show notes and carrying a lot of weight in our research too. And now, brands are starting to use AI tools to decide which podcasts to advertise with

The technology is spreading fast, and it’s getting better all the time. So it’s only natural that podcasters are starting to worry their neck is on the line. The AI Radio DJ certainly didn’t help. 

Clearly, I’m not here to deny that AI has a future in podcasting. As a technology writer, I’m researching and writing about AI every day (and for what it’s worth, it both excites and scares me too). 

But what I am here to say is that AI can’t and won’t replace you as a podcaster. Sure, it will augment and enhance your role as a creator, but it will never replace you.

I’ve never felt more confident that podcasting is a medium that’s pretty much immune to AI takeover. 

Don’t believe me? Even ChatGPT says so…

Will AI Replace Podcasters?

AI can't and won't replace podcasters

But there’s more to it than ChatGPT is letting on. Here are just some of the reasons why I’m so confident podcasters are impossible to replace with AI.  

Why AI Won’t Replace Podcasters

Listeners Value Human Experience 

As a podcaster, your experience of the world is invaluable. Lived experience is what allows you to share personal stories, anecdotes and other things that create a powerful and relatable connection between you and your audience.

Shared experience is something that listeners proactively tune into podcasts for. 

It’s likely you started your podcast on a particular topic because you have a genuine passion for it, and some real-world experience in it too. That makes you an expert in ways that a bot could never be.

Experience is something that AI categorically can’t have. It can only regurgitate other people’s accounts of their experiences that it can find online. 

AI Isn’t Built to Entertain 

ChatGPT’s algorithm can analyse mind-blowing amounts of data and respond to human requests. In that sense, it’s built to give us quick answers and make our lives easier by automating processes we don’t want to do ourselves

What AI isn’t built to do is entertain us, or make us feel any kind of emotions. And (for now, at least) it can’t deliberately make us laugh, either. 

But a massive 87% of listeners said in a survey that they listen to podcasts purely for entertainment – the most-cited reason of them all. Comedy also consistently trumps other genres in the podcast charts. This makes AI unfit to fulfil listener needs.

Listening to AI-generated podcasts is a pretty boring experience too. Even the creator of the viral Joe Rogan AI Experience podcast told Wired that “Apart from listening to [an AI] podcast because of its technological advancement, there’s no point. It’s just wasted time.”

People Don’t Want to Listen to Bots

There’s a reason the phrase “people buy from people” is still thrown around a lot in the sales world today. As humans, we want to communicate with other humans, not bots.

We’re not the most forgiving or patient when it comes to ‘communicating with’ bots. When have you ever felt joy when presented with a computerised phone menu? If you hate that experience, you won’t love listening to AI-manufactured content either. Neither will your audience.

Interestingly, a study also showed that listeners are much more wary of AI being used in podcasting than creators. Many of those surveyed said they thought AI would make the quality of podcast content worse, and some even thought using AI to create podcast content was unethical.

So clearly, the demand just isn’t there. Listeners don’t want to listen to content created by bots, so let’s not give it to them.  

podcast listener unhappy listening to AI podcast

Listeners Crave Emotional Connection With Hosts

The trust and intimacy podcast hosts build with their audience is unmatched by any other medium. The emotional connection is what makes listeners so loyal to their favourite shows, and in turn, what makes podcasting so attractive to advertisers.

A study even showed that people who listen to podcasts feel less lonely because of the strong parasocial relationships they build with hosts. For listeners, a lot depends on whether you connect with a podcast host. It’s why personality-driven podcasts are consistently the main podcast chart-toppers.

AI offers the antithesis of that experience. AI can mimic being ‘our friend’, but can’t truly become it. If anything, listening to bots will make us feel more lonely. 

Building rapport and connecting on an emotional level is a deeply human characteristic that AI simply can’t replicate. 

Bots Don’t Have Opinions

71% of listeners in the same study said they listen to podcasts specifically to hear other people’s opinions. As a human host, you have viewpoints based on your background and real-world experience. This matters in podcasting.

A lot of podcast listeners lap up debate and controversy (hence why people like Joe Rogan and Ben Shapiro are so popular). Opinion and debate are all very human concepts that are a considerable part of podcasting’s draw for many listeners.

A fiery debate would be pretty much impossible if a bot ran a podcast. Imagine a bot trying to run an interview or chair a roundtable discussion. It just wouldn’t work. Or at least not in the way podcast listeners want.

Life isn’t just about regurgitating facts, but about expressing opinions and debating topics important to you and your community. An AI host could never replicate that magic.

brain split between AI and human creativity

AI Can’t Live in the Present

Some of the best podcasts are the ones that improvise, go off-piste, and dive down rabbit holes in ways you aren’t expecting. That’s the raw and unscripted beauty of podcasting.

AI, on the other hand, can’t improvise. Bot hosts would create something much closer to scripted content, which is not what podcasting is about. 

Unlike humans, AI can’t respond to events unless they’ve happened before and been recorded online. This is because ChatGPT can’t talk about anything that happened after 2021, when the new version went live. While it’s likely that this will change soon enough, the technology can still only respond to events that are recorded online.

AI Will Make Human Hosts Matter More

​​And finally, a point that applies to all art forms, not just podcasting.

The more the internet becomes flooded with AI-generated content, the more valuable human-created content will be.

As a very human-centred medium, podcasting will likely become even more popular as generative AI embeds itself further into the creative industries.

Over time, content that’s clearly created with human time, care, and attention will have more value than ever.

So yes, AI tools are powerful, and they’re getting better all the time. But that’s precisely it: AI is a tool, not a human. And humans are powerful too.

As podcasters, you have traits and qualities that are irreplaceable to listeners. And even ChatGPT agrees. 

3 podcast listeners gathered around headphones with a smartphone in the background with audiogram

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