FM-World editor’s Choice, the radio of the week: From Greece Zuccaradio, a tribute to bar Zucca in Milan, Italy

A Greek radio station named after a prestigious and historic bar in Milan. A DJ from Thessaloniki who selects also Italian music based on tastes developed after meeting Gino Paoli. A web radio that survives thanks to pay channels costing 450 euros per year. All this is Zuccaradio, our proposal of the week, which we discussed with the founder Yannis Mitsokapas

Our suggestion of the week

During the month of August a participant in the Talkmedia group wished that the FM-World aggregator would propose some “suggested” radios, given the difficulty in independently discovering the most interesting stations among the many radios available.

Here we are, we thought of inaugurating the series of articles “The proposal of the week”, also open to readers’ suggestions (to be sent to [email protected]). The proposed stations will also be highlighted on the FM-World app, on the station group “Talkmedia”:


We begin today with the Greek Zuccaradio, interesting both for the playlist which we believe is decidedly engaging and for the free + pay model that is proposed. The founder/publisher of the station (Yannis Mitsokapas) was also kind enough to answer some of our questions.

Zuccaradio

We discovered the station this summer as it was the soundtrack of the Bazaar Beach Club beach in Neo Pirgos. We immediately appreciated the unusual (and fascinating) musical selection, even if we struggled to understand the name of the station, both because the jingles are really rare and because they seemed to be saying “socca” radio. Socca is obviously a kind of typical Nice flatbread, but here we were in Greece and in fact the name was not that. Armed with a little patience and browsing the “Radio World” section of our favorite aggregator we finally discovered the real name: Zucca Radio, like the Zucca Bar in Milan

Playlist and Freemium model

The music, declared to be of the Bossa Nova, Pop and Swing genres, is in our personal opinion fascinating, with a mix of international classics (often lounge-style covers), quality Italian or French music and much more.

But perhaps even more interesting is the fact that, in addition to the free channel, the radio offers numerous vertical channels (Aperitif, House, Lobby, etc.) each costing 50 euros/month or 450 euros/year.

Homage to the Zucca Bar

The Zucca bar, in the Galleria in Milan, has had a prestigious history dating back to 1867, when Gaspare, the founder of Campari, decided to open the venue under his residence (which – lucky him – happened to be vaguely in the center of the Lombard capital).

Over the years it has often alternated its name (from Camparino to Zucca in Galleria and vice versa). And it is the name Zucca that strikes the imagination of the young Yannis, so much so that he decides to open one of his own, directly on the seafront in Thessaloniki.

The interview

Marco Hugo Barsotti: Introduce yourself

Yannis Mitsokapas: My name is Yannis, I was born here in Greece (Thessaloniki) in 1968. I have two daughters (25 and 26 years old) and since the age of 14 I have been a professional DJ. I named my radio Zucca in honor of a very famous bar located in Milan. After meeting the owner, I obtained permission to use the name for my bar here in Greece, in 2005. In 2018 I moved to Athens, but I kept the name and that’s when ZuccaRadio started.

Since I was a child I listened to my father’s vinyl records, especially Italian songs. In 1985 I went to Florence to study the language and I was fortunate to meet Gino Paoli.

One song, one story

MHB: How do you choose your music?

YM: Well, every song tells us something, brings back memories, images, people. Every happy or sad moment is connected to a song. This is the music I broadcast. You can’t describe it in words. You can only feel it.

MHB: Who are your listeners, and where are they located?

YM: Zucca Radio has listeners and subscribers from all over Europe, USA, Australia and even the Emirates. Hotels, bars and restaurants, various companies, shipping companies, law firms and many individuals are some of our listeners.

Earning money with a WebRadio?

MHB: In a world where very few make money, that of Web Radios, you offer channels at 450 euros/year. Does it work?

YM: Zucca Radio started with the free stream in 2018. All the music I had, not just the classic songs… I wanted it to be heard.

The free stream has no ads, just the Zucca signal. To be able to continue to exist (the cost is quite high) during the lockdown I created the pay streams (Classico, Aperitivo, Instrumental, Cosmopolitan, House, Classico+GR and a Live Set).

Each pay channel has a specific style, better audio resolution and no interruption.

Zucca Radio and Zucca Premium are not playlists. They are based on specific choices and numerical algorithms created by me. Every day you hear something different and every day the tracks are renewed.

DJ Set at Camparino

MHB: Plans for the future?

YM: I would like to create an album with remakes of my 12 favorite Greek songs made by the most inspired Greek composers. And bring Zuccaradio to the US (because the programming is adapted to the time of day and the time zone difference is a problem).

But my wish is to play at “Zucca” in Milan…”

M.H.B. We will make sure to let Campari Group know.

Zuccaradio is available on the FM-World aggregator and on fmworld.com (M.H.B. for FM-World)

ACI Radio, the DAB station of Automobile Club d’Italia: It’s not just about traffic

Among the many radio stations present in the FM-World aggregator, one stands out for its name, which speaks of a great history: ACI Radio, the radio of the Automobile Club of Italy.It is indeed a long history: what today is a “non-economic public body” was in fact founded in Turin in 1898.

On Friday, September 1, we had the opportunity to talk about it with Piermattia Fioravanti, Business Development Manager at ACI Informobility. Of course, Aci Radio was discussed: Piermattia clarified many doubts concerning the positioning of the broadcaster, and we also discussed developments and future scenarios for radio.

The interview

Marco Hugo Barsotti: First of all, tell us about yourself and how the ACI Radio project was born.

Piermattia Fioravanti: I have been working in the ACI context for about 4 years, I come from a background in strategic consulting. Then I spent a period in a startup that dealt with mobility. Now I am in ACI Infomobility (an in-house company of ACI that works on mobility issues), where I deal with innovation, business development: essentially the product/service innovation.

From Instore Radio to Web Radio…

MHB: How was the ACI Radio project born?

PF: The goal was to give greater prominence to ACI group services: the insurance part (Sara), sustainable mobility and obviously the associative aspect typical of ACI.

One of the initiatives was to create an “Instore Radio“, that is a web radio inside the delegations and insurance agencies – which are often in the same premises – to promote the different branches of activity. I was forgetting: also to promote sporting events in the automotive world, Formula 1, Rally, Targa Florio etc.

…to DAB

Initially conceived as a simple internal web radio, the initiative then took on a more substantial twist, evolving first into an external web radio and then, in the span of a year and a half, into a DAB channel with national coverage

Today the radio, called ACI Radio, has a much more articulated programming and includes content related to all ACI group activities, from insurance to motorsports to travel and tourism, thanks also to the collaboration with entities such as ACI Blue Team. The project, also welcomed internally by the group, has now come into operation after almost two years since the start of broadcasting.

Luceverde

MHB: The programming of ACI Radio therefore has 360 degree content, which goes far beyond road traffic, what I personally, but I imagine others who read us, expected from the name. In any case, how much weight do you give to day-to-day information, to traffic?

PF: As for traffic information, ACI Radio provides periodic updates on the situation in the main Italian cities, but it is limited content.

Our dedicated traffic service is Luceverde,_ provided through a dedicated radio, Luceverde Radio. So we leave this local and instant information to Luceverde, focusing instead on a national programming that ranges over many other topics related to mobility and ACI services. We believe it is right to use the most suitable tools for different needs: to get immediate updates on the local traffic situation, the Luceverde app is certainly the most suitable._

France: a stereo and split “isoradio”

MHB: Of course, but I believe classic radio can still have its say. Let’s take the example of Vinci Autoroute: isofrequency (107.7 stereo) throughout France, but split by area. In Nice we can hear at most from Marseille, but certainly not from Lyon or Paris. And in this way radio can be much more on the spot, to the point of advising on which lanes of the various toll booths to position yourself on critical days

PF: The French example is interesting and in Italy the first steps are being taken in this direction, with some experiments of regional channels on DAB to spread targeted civil protection information. DAB in our country is still in its infancy, but there is the intention to exploit this technology to provide localized news.

Of course, it requires investments in infrastructure and organization. For example, planning is needed to insert regional updates within the national programming, and clocks to synchronize times. You then have to carefully calibrate the amount of information so as not to excessively distract while driving.

In short, regionally focused radio on the French model is a goal being worked on in Italy as well, as much as the development of DAB technology in our country allows. A project to be carried out with radio system players to provide motorists with increasingly targeted information.

Smart Speakers

MHB: You also broadcast on smart speakers. This listening mode is growing a lot. Can you estimate how many listens and what share of the audience it generates for you on this channel?

PF: Unfortunately the listening mode via smart speakers, on which we had invested, is encountering some difficulties due to changes in the policies of the major players in the sector._

In particular, Google and Amazon have progressively limited the possibilities for developing skills and actions by third parties, focusing on their own proprietary voice assistants.

This has created quite a few complications, with continuous changes in the rules and ways of working that have made it very complex to continue supporting this listening mode.

Unfortunately, it does not depend on us but on the choices of the giants in the sector, so at the moment listening via smart speakers is not performing as we expected initially.

Think that we worked with a startup whose founder was one of the top five Amazon skills experts in Europe, and this year he communicated to us that the activity would close down.

DAB & More

MHB: Ironic, considering that those we once called GAFA know everything about everything…

PF: Some companies like DTS are working through a company they own, on connected car digital radio systems that, leveraging GPS data, could allow tracking of listening location and provide targeted content.

..and FM

At the current state, the radio market is still very oriented towards DAB, while IP streaming is not as widespread as one would expect, because the major broadcasters have invested heavily in FM over the past 20 years and are reluctant to switch to DAB not for technological limitations***, but for purely economic reasons***._

They have spent hundreds of millions on FM and if they had to convert from FM to digital overnight, they would suddenly find themselves with infrastructure that has a much lower book value on the balance sheet.

Infotainment

So potentially in the future the geo-localization of radio listeners could become a reality, thanks to connected infotainment systems in cars, but we are still far from a scenario where this could become a standard. The challenge remains to find the right balance between technological potential and privacy protection.

Prominence

MHB: In a trade publication in our sector it is hypothesized an intervention by the authorities aimed at imposing on large platforms the pre-installation of radio aggregators with equal dignity (prominence) compared to Spotify. What is your opinion?

PF: Not having direct commercial interests linked to advertising revenue, we can afford to think more freely about new technologies, without the fear of cannibalizing previous investments like other broadcasters.

Of course, we too have to attract listeners and therefore use the positioning mechanisms on the various platforms. But if there was greater fairness in the distribution of the radio offer, for example with random order of appearance, it would not be a drama

For us then starting with an “a”…no need for asterisks or hashtags to appear at the top of the list of stations on board vehicles!

Autonomous Driving

MHB: With the advent of autonomous driving, in the future people in the car will no longer have to drive but will be simple passengers. This will mean more time available for activities such as watching screens or listening to content while traveling. How do you think in-car radio entertainment will evolve to intercept this new need for content, once driving is fully automated?

PF: As far as we are concerned, we do not see big problems in the evolution towards video content to entertain those traveling in self-driving cars. On the contrary, we believe that information can benefit from it, since images have a greater communicative impact than audio and require less attention effort from those who use them.

We are already moving in this direction_ with some radio vision experiments. The transition to video is a frontier that we welcome positively, strong from the experience as a general radio but with the ability to evolve towards a multimedia offer, to make the most of the potential of automated driving. (M.H.B. for FM-World)_

What is being discussed in the most important Radio interest group of Italy, the FM-World Facebook group “TalkMedia”

In this article we excerpt some posts that appeared in August on the Talkmedia Facebook group. The topics and summaries were selected and elaborated by PeperoniAI from 22HBG and Claude from Anthropic, with fact checking by our editorial staff.

Radio encounters

RadioIncontri, the event that took place in Riva del Garda between 2004 and 2010, has remained in the hearts of many radio professionals, as evidenced by the many nostalgic comments on the original post by Nicola Franceschini.

In general, there is nostalgia for the “RadioIncontri” meetings in Riva del Garda, an annual event between 2004 and 2010 that brought together professionals and enthusiasts from all over Italy to discuss the world of radio.

Among the comments, some fondly evoke the atmosphere of sharing and sociality that could be felt there, comparing them to a real “Facebook group live“. Others remember the good times spent with old acquaintances, making new friendships meant to last.

The historical “volume competitions” between the increasingly powerful and cutting-edge radio systems brought by various exhibitors are also recalled. And the presence, alongside university radio stations, of the new emerging web radios of the time, bearing witness to an event that kept up with the times.

Among the contributions, the well-known publisher of some historical Italian web radios points out that in reality his flagship radio stations had been excluded from those meetings, raising more than a few perplexities. A critical view that provides food for thought, without undermining the prevailing nostalgic feeling.

The future of radio broadcasting at the center of the debate on Facebook

A post published by Massimo Siddi analyzing the new on-demand consumption trends compared to traditional radio playlists sparked a heated debate about the future of radio broadcasting.

Among the comments, some show concern about the mass shift of listeners towards personalized content on digital platforms, abandoning linear listening. But Siddi downplays this view, explaining that this is a process that has been underway for years in many industries, not a sudden change.

In his analysis, the challenge for radio is to open up beyond traditional linearity, experimenting with new ways of producing content. Otherwise it risks being left behind compared to the audience’s choices. One commentator shares this perspective, pointing out that change is coming inexorably.

There are also more hopeful views, such as that of a user who argues that linear radio is not necessarily doomed to disappear. Rather, it can transform itself and carve out a new specific position, as has happened for example with movie theaters following the advent of streaming.

Siddi reiterates that this is not about decreeing the death of radio, but rather understanding the changes taking place in order to reinvent the radio medium in a new dimension in step with the times.

What radio was like in the analog era: memories of old mixers

Giuseppe Fiorellini’s August 18th post showing Leonardo Leopardo using an old analog mixer (note 1) the legendary RMI mixer branded Semprini sparked lively memories among industry veterans in the comments.

Many nostalgically cited the mixer brands they used from the 1970s onwards: in addition to the legendary Semprini, Soundcraft, Munter, Davoli, FBT and other historic brands of Italian electro-acoustics are frequently mentioned.

Some recall having used these mixers until the 2000s, while others point out that today the sonic timbre is given by digital processors. There are also references to the spring reverbs and analog equalizers of the time, which required some skill in tuning.

The comments express all the nostalgia for a technology that, despite some drawbacks like background noise, guaranteed a greater “warmth” of sound compared to the digital era. A passion that unites veterans of that artisanal radio where the personal touch made the difference.

The FM-World “charts” at the center of the debate on radio listenership

In recent weeks, the rankings of the most listened to radios on the FM-World aggregator, called (borrowing the name from music charts) “charts” (or rather: top charts!) have been reported several times on the Talkmedia page.

The original post by Franceschini reporting the charts of the most listened to radios on the FM-World platform sparked a discussion about radio listenership measurement in the comments.

In particular, one user points out how the admittedly small audience numbers generated by FM-World make clear how actually useless the traditional surveys conducted on samples by specialized companies are.

Another commenter goes into the specifics of the FM-World charts, noting how there is a clear predominance of one national broadcaster at night, which would contrast with the official data available. This is seen as a sign of possible discrepancy between the institutional listening charts and emerging trends from the platform.

There are also observations on the missing radio stations in these charts: the absence of a very popular national broadcaster and that of a historic local station, appreciated in its area, are noted for example. This would limit a complete view of the radio landscape.

Someone also highlights the opportunity offered by FM-World to discover new broadcasters among the over 500 present, compared to the more limited offer of institutional aggregators. And to further support the doubts about the validity of official data, the recent departure of Rai from the survey conducted by the company PER is recalled.

In summary, through these various objections and clarifications, widespread perplexity about the reliability of traditional sample-based listening surveys seems to emerge.
FM-World is seen as a possible more realistic alternative to quantify the actual performance of the various radio broadcasters.

(note 1): We were forced to correct the AI, probably born too long after 1975

(Article by Peperoni AI and Claude/Anthropic under the supervision of M.H.B. for FM-World)

RAI and the future of online audio listening: interview with Andrea Borgnino (RAI)

Andrea Borgnino (RAI): Rai PlaySound is growing rapidly, now also with regional content and versions optimized for mobility. Online, any classic FM listening rule is overturned, as is the case of our Radio3 (culture) network, that is top in the charts. RAI content on 3rd parties aggregators? It’s a very complex issue. Radio 2 Visual is only available on Rai Play, our app is dedicated to audio.

 

RAI and the Online Audio World

We continue our series of articles “Entertainment and Work in the Car”. After talking with Eng. La Teana from RTL and with Charles Kelly, today it’s RAI’s turn, where Andrea Borgnino (IWOHK) has held the role of editorial head of RaiPlay Sound for about 2 years, the RAI app/aggregator inspired in part by the prestigious BBC Sounds English model.

With Andrea we talked about new content, the profile of podcast listeners compared to linear radio listeners, and the issue of proprietary apps (single broadcaster) vs aggregators.

The full audio of the conversation is available at this address.

Andrea Borgnino

A real radio enthusiast, he has made it his job at RAI since 1997. Author of the Radio 1 program Golem, he later dealt with the Radio Techetè channel. For over ten years he has had a weekly slot called Interferences in the Radio 3 Mondo program and since July 2021 he is editorial manager of RaiPlay Sound, the RAI platform dedicated to live, on demand and podcast listening.

The Interview

Marco Hugo Barsotti: First of all, update us on RaiPlay Sound. We left off in April with 12 Live channels, plus dozens of on-demand and as users you said that in the first four months the numbers were going in the direction you expected….

Andrea Borgnino: _So let’s say the project is growing. The live channels have gone from 12 to 14, there are 2 new regional channels, one in Slovenian and one in German coming from the Trieste headquarters and the Bolzano headquarters.

So a big work of integration of regional contents.  In addition to these two more live channels there are also contents from the local newsrooms, Trieste, Sardinia, Sicily and soon we will also bring in Bolzano and Trento.
So: not only content in Italian, but also in Sardinian, Slovenian, German and Ladino, Friulian and Patois.

Automotive World

As for the APP, the big news is that it has been made compatible with the automotive world, meaning Android Auto and Apple Car. For both we developed  an optimized interface  that allows users to enjoy all the functions of RaiPlay Sound through these two interfaces.
This is a big step forward that I can tell you first, since we haven’t officially announced it yet.
We are also working on a platform for connected TVs, which I think will be available in September.

In terms of editorial content, to date we have over 200 original podcasts – and I point out that we’ve only been online for two years. We also have over 500 radio shows available online and 200 audiobooks.

Sophisticated Users

MHB: Do PlaySound listeners make the same choices as FM listeners? In other words, are the “listening charts” of the various programs the same or different?

AB: Well.. these are not data that RAI releases, but I  can give some general information.
The answer is that the RaiPlay Sound audience is very different from what we have in FM, as found in the last TER data.
For example, on PlaySound Radio3 is one of the most listened to live contents.
(Radio3 RAI can be loosly defined as  equivalent of BBC Radio3+BBC Radio 4, Ed. note)

Different (but similar) situation  for on-demand

Now, we made a tool very similar to Netflix’s top 10, which everyone can find on our site.
At this time
(interview recorded on August 4, 2023)  the most requested content is Radio3 Mondo,then Prima Pagina and Out Loud: all three contents from Radio 3.

Overturned Rules

What follows is the audio version of Lucarelli’s TV program Blu Notte, then Wikiradio, then …. let’s say that in on-demand listening, any classic FM listening rule no longer applies: It’s a fragmented listening of more varied content.

And even in linear online listening,  FM rules do not apply,

Aggregators

MHB: Let’s talk about aggregators and dedicated apps. Both you and RTL 102.5, to name just two, have a dedicated, very rich app. But by using it you remain confined there, while many listeners quickly switch from one broadcaster’s content to another’s: an aggregator is very more practical from this point of view. But obviously the dedicated content is lost there. Isn’t it conceivable an integration of the two experiences, at least with the aggregators developed in Italy?

AG:  The issue is broad; it’s a matter of distribution and system.
As for the video, you can see that the contents are not only on Rai Play, our app for video.
Distribution agreements have been made there. But us… we are still very young, not even two years old yet.
The only export concerns Spotify and it was done because the Italian market is on Spotify. But it wasn’t a transposition: on Spotify we go to put some series that we publish on RaiPlay Sound, but at a later time._

Today, RAI’s choice is  clear: to push our own apps  RaiPlay and RaiPlay Sound.

Convergence

I was talking about it a few weeks ago with some colleagues from BBC: they even imagine a single app, a merge of iPlayer and BBC Sounds. A single app for the entire public service.

MHB: … Yes, but… doesn’t it seem to you that from the point of view of listeners it is not the optimal choice? Of course, it is in the interest of the broadcaster, but it is not convenient for those who listen…who could ultimately  reject the product and prefer an aggregator where they have total freedom.

AB:  Yes, but you have to keep in mind that we, as a public body, have to make clear and transparent agreements for the distribution of our content: it’s not a trivial matter, not at all

 

Visual

MHB: Let’s close with technology. Do you plan to evolve the visual offer of RaiPlay Sound, also with a view to meeting the needs of mobile use? I’m thinking of screens for rear passengers or even for the driver, in future self-driving cars.

AB: At the moment, we don’t have any visual offer projects. As you know,   Radio 2 is  available in audio and video format, but its video offer is exclusively on RaiPlay, not on our application which is purely dedicated to audio.
If in the future there will be video podcasts things could change, but for now, as I said, we are a pure audio offer.
 (M.H.B. for FM-World)

A fully AI-run radio? Content on Demand proposes a different, immediately usable approach that builds on what already exists

After the launch of ChatGPT at the end of November 2022, many – including us – got carried away with enthusiasm, envisioning a future populated by AI-run radio  where content is generated by an LLM (Large Language Model, like GPT 3.5, Claude from Anthropic or Meta’s LLama-2), while voices are generated by other models that have  learned to speak like real presenters: Not so Fast.

Not so fast

Nine months have passed: we think we have understood a little more and can correctly position AI as an additional resource, rather than a total change in the approach of broadcasters with consequent staff reductions.

Of course, this is a personal and provisional conclusion because, inevitably, what we thought was feasible at the end of 2022 if not today will likely be possible in the future.

But let’s take it step by step.

Patrizia

Let’s start with an early adopter, the publishing company behind 70-80.it.  In December 2022 they devise a radio format, the Diario di Patrizia, where the vicissitudes of a 70s/80s teenager are invented and written by GPT 3.5-rurbo through the PeperoniAI front-end.

To get the desired result, they started from a series of stories written by a human copywriter: stories of teenagers, love affairs and family problems.

These first scripts were  writtten by humans and not intended to be broadcast, but to train the AI.

Subsequently, the real scripts were generated by AI: specific instructions were provided to Peperoni, such as:

_Number the stories, identifying them with a progressive number
_Use 80s teen slang
_Write short stories (about ten lines) suitable for radio reading and not too complicated.
_If possible, think of funny stories, even if the goal is not to make people laugh.

The program was a big hit and can be still heard on the station.

 Kai

In Germany someone wanted to go a step further, creating a radio totally managed by an AI, called KAI.

This is the case of Absolute Radio AI, whose manager recently told Newslinet that “Much of the work at Absolut Radio AI is handled by our site, which sends the request to ChatGPT and then re-checks and optimizes the response again.
The platform runs the entire workflow completely on its own;  however, for the first few months humans will check all texts and listen to vocals before broadcast.

Reality Check

We of course performed a reality check by listening to the station. We remember little of the German learned in high school, yet enough to be able to say that the chosen format is quite smart: music with segments where the talk is … about the music.
In practice, the AI tells something about the tracks or artists on air, which is feasible without too much risk of  hallucinations,  if the model used has been (as we assume) fine-tuned on music history.

The synthetic German voices are credible and  very enjoyable. In fact: surprisingly good.

Content on Demand

This brings us to Content on Demand by 22HBG.

Let’s take the  experience, by Radio Nizza, an italian station created to and aimed at the Riviera (Cote d’Azur). In the first two months the station had access to was able to experiment with the new “content on demand” service*.

Their conclusion: Content on Demand can effectively complement the work of editorial staff and presenters for services related to current affairs and possibly programmatically connected to specific feeds.

Content on Demand, let’s clarify, is a cloud service created by 22HBG based on what has already been developed for Peperoni and dedicated to creating audio content based on prompts.

As you can see in the screenshot, users can upload a preroll (in our case from the official voice of Radio Nizza) and a backgrounds sound.

Then in the “Context” area users can  insert a text prompt (complex topic that we will return to) to get a complete audio clip created in a few seconds, ready to be verified and aired.

 

An example

Let’s explain the process with an example. The editorial staff prepares content every week, the agenda of events on the Côte d’Azur or the news of the day. But it certainly cannot be present 24 hours a day to monitor alerts or specific events, which are however available online. Such as in this tweet by the public transport of Nizza, “Ligne d’Azur”, warning users of a change in the line 90.

 

Here’s the point. By providing Content on Demand with the message (captured via a Python script) and preceding it with a specific prompt (again crafted via Python) we can automatically create a radio segment, sending Content on demand the following complete prompt:

Prompt: Create an urgent message for Radio Nizza informing – translating into Italian – about the following: “En raison d’un éboulement, la ligne 90 est modifiée le jeudi 3 août 2023.”

And here is the result aired on August 3 (the content starts at second 14):

The text is: “Good morning to all our listeners. We have an urgent announcement to make regarding line 90. Due to a landslide, line 90 will undergo changes on Thursday, August 3, 2023. We invite you to take this into account for your travel plans. We will update you with further information as soon as it becomes available. Thank you for your attention and have a nice day everyone!

French version

The same system can automatically create a French version.  No editorial work is  required: it is  enough to specify “in French” in the prompt:

Prompt: Create an urgent message for Radio Nizza informing – in French – the following: “En raison d’un éboulement, la ligne 90 est modifiée le jeudi 3 août 2023.”

This is the excellent result

t,

The text:

Chers auditeurs de Radio Nizza, Nous avons une nouvelle urgente à vous annoncer. En raison d’un éboulement, nous devons vous informer que la ligne 90 sera modifiée ce jeudi 3 août 2023. Cette situation imprévue nous oblige à apporter des changements à l’itinéraire habituel de la ligne 90. Des mesures de sécurité sont en cours pour évaluer les dégâts et rétablir la situation normale dans les plus brefs délais. Nous vous recommandons de prendre vos dispositions pour éviter tout désagrément lors de vos déplacements. Il est possible que des retards ou des modifications temporaires soient nécessaires sur cette ligne. Veuillez suivre les instructions données par le personnel de la compagnie de transports en commun pour connaître les alternatives possibles. Nous comprenons que cela peut causer des désagréments et nous nous excusons pour les inconvénients que cela pourrait vous causer. Nous mettons tout en œuvre pour minimiser les perturbations et rétablir la situation normale dans les plus brefs délais. Restez à l’écoute de Radio Nizza pour les dernières mises à jour concernant cette situation. Nous vous tiendrons informés de tout développement ou changement concernant la ligne 90. Nous vous remercions de votre compréhension et de votre coopération. Prenez soin de vous et soyez prudents lors de vos déplacements. C’était un message urgent de Radio Nizza.

Gallicisms

As you can see the resulting message is very long, forcing to shorten it by reiterating the request to Peperoni preceded by “repeat the previous text shortening it by 50%“.

The reason is both ridiculous and interesting: the French – we can now affirm from direct experience – tend to be very ceremonious in writing and speaking, turning even short communications into very long speeches. The AI, trained on this style, has therefore excessively lengthened the message, forcing the station to run a second iteration.

English Version

Finally, the same operation with English:

Ongoing Developments

As for Italian voices, the weakest of the three,  we contacted  the head of development at 22HBG who is working on the next version of Content on Demand.

Among other things,  he said, he is implementing the options to change the “mood” or “tone” of the voice: through presets it will therefore be possible to make the artificial voice speak in a neutral way (BBC World Service style, to be clear) or emphatically (as often adopted by presenters in music programs).

Last Note

Last note: did you read above the manager of Absolute Radio AI stating that “for the first few months humans will check all texts“?

Well our advice is to keep checking the output not “for the first few months” but until “future AI systems that emulate the human “super Ego” – additional downstream models that control the AI’s work – are able to reject inappropriate, hallucinated or simply “not radio-friendly” content”

(M.H.B. for FM-World)

FM-World Turns 25: From Analog to AI. A Conversation with Nicola Franceschini

The FM-World System

Our articles cover radio broadcasting comprehensively, but also artificial intelligence, the future of infotainment on the go, and everything else that’s coming up. However, it’s nice to look back sometimes, especially for something like FM-World whose pioneering role in the Italian web scene risks being forgotten or overlooked. That’s why we decided to speak with Nicola Franceschini, who needs no introduction for our italian readers. Stay tuned, it’ll be worth it.

A Quarter Century

*Marco Hugo Barsotti: FM-World has a long history, it seems like it’s been around forever…

Nicola Franceschini: It’s been exactly 25 years, on June 5th, that FM-World has existed. So we’re approaching an important milestone, marking a quarter century. There are really two distinct eras for FM-World: before you mentioned Supereva but that wasn’t even the beginning… and of course the more professional part, with the app and everything else, which started in 2011.

But let’s go in order: FM-World was born as a completely amateur website on June 5, 1998, in a period…

*MHB: 1998? Around the era of Netscape Navigator 3.0*, with the big “N” logo?*

NF: Actually Internet Explorer was out too, that was the big innovation. I was still in university, so I was using the internet directly on campus while studying, and it was a time… you know, like it was for local radio in the 70s: there were amateur websites popping up everywhere.

Two Pioneers

Of course I followed the ones related to radio, where there was an embryonic Newslinet, which later evolved. But I remember there were so many similar sites, like the one in Milan for example, I don’t know if you remember, called…

*MHB: The Daxmedia observatory! BSB, STM, RPB and all the Milanese station codes invented by Dario Dossena.

NF: Yes, DaxMedia created in collaboration with Andrea Lombardo. But there were so many similar sites, scattered in cities across Italy. Basically all aimed at offering very similar content in their own region, mostly to talk about radio but even more to report frequency changes, what could be received in those areas, etc…

*MHB: …and when the Christmas cap would appear on the logos of analog TV stations: thrilling, much more than predictions on who would win Sanremo…

NF: Exactly! Anyway, FM-World was really born very simply as a site for reporting frequencies. It wasn’t so much about content in terms of programs and such. Then gradually, we didn’t even realize it, but we started getting feedback, emails from readers and even official press releases.

Geocities

Initially I had published it on Geocities pages, the very first version, you remember Geocities.com?

*MHB: Of course, I remember Geocities_ very well, it was a hugely popular free web hosting service in the 90s!_

NF: Yes: it was one of those sites that gave you free space, with the Geocities.com address and then slash (“/”, ed), and then slash, and slash, until you got to FM-World at the end.

Supereva

And then Supereva, which at the time had the “guide” project, basically single-topic channels, making it a real portal, with many ‘experts’ on individual topics. They were the ones who wrote to me, proposing to move the content from my site into an already organized space, within their radio channel, which I essentially became the manager of.

When FM-World entered Supereva – 2000/2001 – I gradually expanded it, also inserting the first news related to radio in general… I remember finding the launch of m2o (2002) a few months ago, for which I had written a short article, a project that took the place of Italia Radio, a station with a completely different format.

*MHB: From Radio Regione of Fegiz to the PCI…. to Dance!

NF: Exactly, there had been this epochal change. Then I talked about the debut of LolliRadio in 2006 and other native digital stations. Until 2011 FM-World was always hosted on Supereva and in parallel had a site called Frequenze Radio.

News Gathering

*MHB: Sorry to interrupt, before moving on to step 2 which I think is coming up, there’s one aspect I think is interesting – the news gathering*, that is, how you got the news. It seems to me we can say you were a pre-social pioneer of the bottom-up model, in the sense that news gathered locally by readers who in some way became co-editors. Quite remarkable, in a pre-Twitter, pre-Meta era.*

NF: Of course not “all readers”, but a series of trusted contributors, some of whom have become real friends who still share the project with me today. There were some areas of Italy that were uncovered, but news from Milan, Rome, Naples, Turin or “my” Emilia-Romagna was constantly updated.

But consider that at the time I was already collaborating with Millecanali and this was a big advantage for me. There I was one name among many others, but it was a prestigious publication, edited by Mauro Roffi who we are still in constant contact with.

And then, as you say, there were grassroots contacts, people who spontaneously sent emails with information.

Talkmedia

In 2002 Talkmedia was launched, which today is the social side of FM-World on Facebook: born as a ‘guest’ of Yahoo!Groups.

The method was very simple: anyone who joined (via email, of course) this group automatically became both a reader and a participant, because anyone could write something that would be delivered to everyone.

Facebook

And Talkmedia remained this until the arrival of social media…. When did Facebook start in Italy?

*MHB: I’d say around 2008. Still without the “like” button.

NF: Facebook started when I wasn’t working with Busi (Gianluca Busi, founder of 22HBG, ed.) yet. And the first FM-World page was actually a private profile. Then came “groups”.

Talkmedia

So in 2011 the official page and TalkMedia as a group were born, and it’s also the year I personally met Gianluca. At the time I was working at a local radio station and he came…

*MHB: “One?” At Rete Alfa…

NF: Yes… Gianluca came to visit me at the radio station saying “we know each other…”, because technicians and industry operators were talking to him about me, just as they were talking to me about him.

At that time there was no 22HBG yet, which would be born by combining the start-up with the development process of FM-World as an app too.

FM-World at 22HBG

I was also tired of “playing alone”, so I was happy to have an evolution, capturing Gianluca’s enthusiasm and that of the nascent 22HBG.

Our “roles”? I basically maintained management of the website’s content and he handled everything else, namely the app, technological developments, and the beautiful headquarters too.

An app – FM-world – that today aggregates the audio and video streams of many Italian and foreign stations.

Words, words, words

*MHB: But you don’t provide connection numbers publicly.

NF: Those are company choices, but I can give you some important information. For example, not only major networks work online, but also native digital radios, especially if they have a well-defined format. There are totally “vertical” stations that achieve significant results.

Reality Check: Any Web Radios in the Top 10?

*MHB: But for example right now, at this moment, do you have any radios that are not also on FM among the top 10?

NF: Right now (8:55 AM on Monday May 29, 2023, ed.) the most listened to… let me see… yes: the most listened to is Radio1 Rai, then the private networks we know… and in ninth place 70-80.it, the first digital one.

FM-World for Broadcasters

*MHB: An application like FM-World records a sea of information: real-time listening rankings, listening duration, bounce rate, individual user habits. And it can display metadata. Have you thought about providing interfaces to radio stations so they can analyze and operate on this data? Or maybe enrich what radio offers through your platform with those famous metadata – and I don’t mean just the title of the song on air, but everything else that’s been dreamed up for years?

NF: Of course, obviously this is a very useful service, also demonstrating the importance on the app of prominence, studied positioning, the right logo, the right name: a service we can provide.

But not me: I handle the content side. You’d have to talk to 22HBG directly about that.

Next Episode

And that’s exactly what we’ll do in the second episode of our series “Entertainment and Work in the Car” (M.H.B. with the support of Peperoni AI, for FM-World).