Steve Goldstein’s Amplifi Media works with media companies and podcasters in developing audio content strategies. Goldstein writes frequently at the Amplifi blog. Steve can be reached directly at 203-221-1400 or sjgoldstein-at-amplifimedia-dot-com.
“Authenticity” is Merriam-Webster’s 2023 word of the year, and the word resonates deeply within the podcasting community. As a term often bandied about to highlight the unique value of podcasting, it’s both a cliché and a cornerstone. It’s important to delve into why authenticity is pivotal, especially in an era where artificial intelligence (AI) is also on everyone’s lips. The choice of “authenticity” as Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2023 is both timely and telling. According to Peter Sokolowski, the publisher’s editor-at-large, this selection reflects a “crisis of authenticity” that has become more apparent in recent times.
The Essence of Authenticity in Podcasting
Podcasting, at its heart, is an intimate, personal medium. Its strength lies in the genuine connections between the podcaster and the listener. Whether it’s a deep dive into a niche topic or a casual conversation, the sense of realness of a human voice speaking directly to you is irreplaceable. This authenticity is what draws listeners in, building communities around shared interests and stories. Authenticity is hard to define, but much like a good actor who has that certain “it” factor, people have finely tuned their BS meters to detect phony and fake versus real and authentic.
The AI Conundrum: Threat or Boon?
The rise of AI in content creation poses significant questions. Entire creative industries are threatened. The recent Screen Actors Guild strike was largely about AI’s role in the future development of content. For podcasting, there is a valid concern that AI-generated content might dilute the personal touch that listeners value. Imagine a podcast episode scripted entirely by AI – would it capture the nuances of human emotion and the idiosyncrasies that make each podcast unique? Can it emit warmth, spontaneity and humor?
There is a role for AI. It can be a powerful tool in enhancing the podcasting experience. From aiding in research to suggesting topics based on listener preferences, AI has the potential to bolster the podcasting process, making it more efficient and accessible.
Striking the Right Balance
As with everything in life, the key lies in balance. Using AI as a tool rather than a replacement ensures that the heart of podcasting – the human connection – remains intact. Podcasters can leverage AI for technical improvements and analytical insights while keeping content creation in the hands of the creators that make podcasting great. This approach preserves the authenticity that listeners crave while embracing the advancements AI offers.
The intersection of AI and podcasting is inevitable and can be incredibly rewarding if navigated wisely. Podcasters who understand how to use AI effectively without compromising authenticity will be at the forefront of this evolution.
Embracing Authenticity in the AI Era
Merriam-Webster’s selection of “authenticity” as the Word of the Year is more than just a reflection of linguistic trends; it’s a mirror to our current societal values and concerns. In a year defined by a search for the genuine, this choice underscores a collective desire to find and uphold what is authentically real. For podcasters,, it’s more than just a buzzword. It’s a reminder of what makes this medium special and a guidepost for incorporating emerging technologies like AI.
By staying true to the essence of podcasting while carefully using AI tools, we can ensure that high-value, high-awareness podcasts continue to thrive, offering genuine, engaging content to listeners who seek what is human and real in our increasingly digital world.
At Amplifi Media, we are using today’s tools, but we’re always mindful that authenticity and trust are the most important and human of traits. While AI might someday learn to laugh at our jokes, it’s the authentic and sometimes imperfect that truly resonates.