Moneyball: How Listeners Feel About AI Jocks


We’re showing off programming and marketing micro-tactics from NuVoodoo Ratings Prospects Study 23 in a second season of Moneyball for Radio. You can find new videos every Thursday at We’re focusing on the incremental things you can do that can add up to the additional tenth of a rating point that is the goal for stations in rated markets.

With all the news and discussion in the radio trade press last week about using AI talent on the air, we thought it was worthwhile to roll back to last summer’s Ratings Prospects Study 22 in which we looked at how listeners felt about radio using AI voices. In that sample of over 2,500 14-54s nationwide interviewed at the end of June 2023, we asked radio listeners how they’d feel if the person hosting a show on a music radio station was:

  • Broadcasting live from a studio in their area.
  • Pretending to be live but was actually pre-recorded.
  • Pretending to be local but is really in a distant city.
  • Simulating being human, but is actually an AI voice bot.

Not surprisingly, a strong 58% majority in the chart below felt good about live and local hosting. A small percentage felt bad, presumably because they feel anything but music is bad. Surprisingly, around half didn’t care about hosting that was pre-recorded or piped in from a distant city – but only a small 23% sliver felt good about either of those options.

An AI simulated host appealed to a slightly higher percentage than the pre-recorded or piped-in modes, likely because of the novelty of AI. However, AI hosting got the strongest negative vote at 35%. A 39% plurality just didn’t care about an AI bot hosting the show; it didn’t matter to them. Clearly their expectations from the talent on music radio are not very high, which we found very sad.

Later in the interview, in a grouping of statements we asked respondents to agree or disagree with, we posed, “Most of the DJs on radio stations are computer-generated AI voices.” And across the full sample 27% agreed. The number was higher still among men in the sample (32%) and among the more AI-aware Millennials (33%) and Gen Zs (28%). Disturbingly, among the fifth of the sample who profile as likely ratings participants (labeled “RPS Yes” in the chart below), 39% agreed that most of the DJs are AI voices. These are the people most likely to give radio its report card and nearly two in five think most jocks are bots.

If you’re blessed to have live talent in your local studio, this should serve as a reminder to make sure listeners know it; to make use of the wide range of things that live hosts can do. Listeners enjoy getting a peek into the studio in the videos you can post on your website and share online. Remote broadcasts can require a lot of effort for a station staff, but your most loyal listeners love them. We know staffs are stretched thin, but finding ways to engage live, local talent with listeners pays dividends.

The second week of the book is ending as the first of the March monthlies are rolling in. If a bad surprise causes you to rethink your spring book readiness, the NuVoodoo research, marketing, and digital teams are at the ready. Efficiently targeted digital marketing campaigns can be spun up in just over a week. Many library music tests can be turned around in less than 4 weeks. A profitable station merch store can be added to your website quickly. An email to will get you the help you need.