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Digital Celebrities 292

partridge writes "Carson Daly's simulacrum is the new Max Headroom. I guess this makes Clear Channel Communications the current embodiment of Network 23? Now we just have to wait for the blipverts to start making consumer's heads explode."
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Digital Celebrities

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  • Blipverts? Exploding heads? Makes me think of stuff like David Cronenberg's Videodrome...

    • For a movie dated 1983 it contained some very interesting and or prophetic ideas. Some of them similar to Max Headroom. A few:

      • The image on the screen will become reality for the viewers and people will live their lifes in this reality. Today think of all sorts of media as soaps, forums, chats, online games...
      • People will have digital names. For example chats, forums, domainnames.
      • The television broadcasts of videodrome contain an invisible 'signal' sending messages to its viewers. Yes, videodrome of course was after total world domination.
  • *runs to the nearest thesaurus*
    • Re:simula- wha? (Score:2, Insightful)

      Simalcrum: from the D&D spell (and maybe from wherever that came from.)

      In AD&D, a "Simalcrum" was a lesser form of a "clone", made of snow & ice and a bit of the caster's flesh.

      I'm sure that there's a bigger Sci Fi reference, but I wager that most of /. (and a good portion of the net) gets the vocabulary from AD&D.

      And on that note--why doens't the Jargon File mention RPGs? AD&D Trolls are most vulnerable to fire--which has always struck me as the most likely reason why "Trolls" are attacked by "flames." (I think "flame" came first, and "troll" came second.)
  • by Dugsmyname ( 451987 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [keegcirenegeht]> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @05:41PM (#5226391) Homepage
    Carson Daly rose to fame as the host of "Total Request Live" on Viacom's MTV. Less well known is his side gig as a superhuman D. J. With a little help from digital editing, Mr. Daly can do a top-10 countdown show tailored to the phoned-in requests of radio listeners in 11 different cities without actually knowing which songs he is counting down.

    Mr. Daly's syndicated radio show, "Carson Daly Most Requested," is produced by Premiere Radio Networks, a unit of the broadcasting giant Clear Channel Communications. The program runs each weekday on 140 stations -- most of them owned by Clear Channel -- although only 11 receive the digitally customized version that seeks to simulate a local program.

    "Most Requested" has been on the air for nearly two years, but only recently have people not directly involved in the program become aware of the extent to which technology is allowing Mr. Daly to cozy up to local listeners. Radio experts say the program involves perhaps the most extensive use yet of digital audio processing to offer localized shows from a central location. And members of a major broadcasting union are investigating to determine whether the techniques violate local labor agreements.

    Clear Channel executives and Mr. Daly declined to discuss the program and the technology. But according to former Clear Channel employees, Mr. Daly spends several hours a week in a studio in his Manhattan apartment, reading scripts with short song introductions and longer segments of D. J. patter. His audio feed is transmitted to Los Angeles, where the show's engineers turn the segments into digital files and drop them into a database.

    With a lot of cutting and pasting, the engineers create 11 customized hourlong countdown shows for cities like New York, Philadelphia and Detroit, and two national pop and rhythm-and-blues countdowns for other markets. The customization means Mr. Daly can seem to be telling listeners in a particular city their most-requested songs for that day -- without ever seeing the city's top-10 list.

    Clear Channel has been widely criticized for its use of so-called voice-tracking technology, which enables prerecorded D. J.'s to sound to listeners in a distant city as if they were both local and live.

    Opponents of media consolidation say the technology allows Clear Channel to ignore its regulatory mandate requiring the company to have local stations serve local audiences.

    In a case that will go to trial this week, the National Labor Relations Board is charging that Clear Channel violated the contracts of the staff at WWPR-FM in New York, a hip-hop and rhythm-and-blues station known as Power 105.1. The suit argues that the station began using a voice-tracked Los Angeles D. J. without union authorization.

    The company has said that the show, "Power After Hours," was a syndicated program, which the contract allows.

    Mr. Daly's show uses technology that is similar to voice tracking, but industry experts said that the digital manipulation of the host's words and phrases is so extensive as to put the show in a league of its own.

    "This tells you that Carson Daly, as a brand and a personality, is worth the extra studio effort," said Tom Taylor, the editor of Inside Radio, an industry newsletter. "The technology has been advancing to the point where you can do that and make it sound really good."

    Steven Dunston, a sound designer and editor in Los Angeles who worked at Clear Channel's Premiere Radio unit when the Daly show began in early 2001, said he helped build its innovative database, which had tens of thousands of audio samples in it.

    He said that because Mr. Daly had only a few hours a week to devote to the program, phrases like "coming in at No. 4" were recorded once and stored in the database for reuse. The call letters and phone numbers of the 11 stations, in Mr. Daly's voice, were inserted throughout.

    "It really was fascinating from a technological angle," Mr. Dunston said. "Nothing had been done to that extent before."

    People close to the current show said its operations had changed little since it began. A spokeswoman for Premiere declined to answer questions about the production of Mr. Daly's show, saying that was proprietary information. She said Mr. Daly was unavailable for comment.

    Not all of Mr. Daly's sentences are digitally constructed. The show's writers give him longer segments, like gossip roundups and customized introductions for New York and Los Angeles. But much of the material is written with recycling in mind, so a joke about Christina Aguilera that is used to introduce the No. 3 song in Boston can be used on another day when the song is, say, No. 6 in Atlanta.

    Mr. Daly's unconventional countdown only recently caught the attention of the New York chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which represents broadcast personnel and opposes voice tracking. Peter Fuster, the chapter's assistant executive director, said the union had previously thought that the show was just a national countdown with local branding.

    Mr. Fuster said, "We're looking into whether the customized package that they are preparing for New York violates our collective bargaining agreement" at Z-100 (WHTZ-FM), the station that carries the show in New York. If the station is giving Mr. Daly's show a list of songs to play, that would essentially be voice tracking, which is not allowed under the contract, Mr. Fuster said.

    Mr. Daly is likely to be even more pressed for time now that he has his own late-night television talk show on NBC, "Last Call With Carson Daly." But when he needs some time off from his radio work, the database lets the countdown roll on. Before he goes on vacation, the show's producers try to make sure they have enough sound clips so his voice can introduce top-10 lists that have yet to be compiled.

    That has not always gone smoothly. Mr. Dunston, the sound designer, said that at one point a new Michael Jackson song, "You Rock My World," unexpectedly showed up on the charts. Mr. Daly was unavailable that day, and because he had never introduced a song by Mr. Jackson, the engineers had to dig through old recordings to find a segment in which he made an offhand reference to the singer. Then they hunted down bits of the song title and assembled all the pieces.

    "We had to cobble things together," Mr. Dunston said.

    • by Lawbeefaroni ( 246892 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @05:45PM (#5226441) Homepage
      Thanks. Very helpful, considering I thought Carson Daly was a woman.
      • by Forgotten ( 225254 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:26PM (#5226788)
        Carson Daly is neither a man nor a woman. Carson Daly, is, in fact, already a simulacrum. This whole thing is a smokescreen.

        The original Carson Daly, like most TV hosts nowadays, was a vaccuum-molded plastic talking head with interchangeable parts (the molding process isn't perfect, so some vaccuum always remains within). You've seen early versions of this technology sold as "Mr. Potato Head". Strictly speaking this incarnation didn't talk, but could be synced to an audio track. The interchangeable parts are especially useful, allowing facial features to be gradually changed and teeth to whiten, etc, as fashion dictates while still preserving the all-important familiarity factor.

        Work was done on transitioning to a fully digital TV host starting in the early nineties. Trivia - parts of the movie "Toy Story" actually stemmed from this work (the digitally rendered Mr. Potato Head is an obvious example). These early efforts were extremely non-realtime, however, and unsuited even for the glazed perceptions of seasoned TV viewers.

        Now these "people" are thought to be ready for primetime. They're still not completely realistic, which is why the initial rollout will be on networks like MTV where the viewing audience is especially numb and used to very rapid edits, constant lip-syncing, and other concealments of ineptitude. But soon you won't be able to find a real live TV host on either coast of the US. This isn't expected to actually effect the parties in any way.

        Hope that helps.
    • Mr. Daly spends several hours a week in a studio in his Manhattan apartment,

      yet more evidence that we should eat the rich.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The no registration required link: 03DALY.html?pagewanted=1 []

    • Or just use the Google News partner link. [] Or the NYT Random login generator? [] Just thinking out loud...
  • by gotroot801 ( 7857 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @05:41PM (#5226395) Homepage Journal
    ...the legal ramifications of voice tracking, or the fact that since CCC started this, there's only been one instance where they've had a song show up that they didn't handpick^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hanticipate making the Top 10.
    • Actually I find it interesting that in this case that they went to some trouble to air this song that they didn't expect to be on the Top 10. All of their stations use pre-defined playlists anyway, so you would just expect the Top 10 to come straight from that. If some listeners actually attempt to call-in to get some song not on the playlist onto the Top 10, I would have just expected them to silently ignore their request, given their track record and motives.

      Are the listeners really going to find out what happened? Especially if they are already swallowing the crap that Clear Channel is sending down their throats. If those listeners actually tried to make a stink about it, they could just claim that it was obvious that someone was "stuffing the ballot boxes" or something like that.

      It's obvious that Clear Channel is not in the business of pleasing the masses, just focusing on making money.
      • The explanation is obvious.

        ClearChannel, knowing that it hasn't yet achieved world domination, expected the news of their ploy to break sooner or later; in fact, they planned on it.

        They obviously had the Michael Jackson song story prepared in advance, so that they could present it as evidence that there were still human beings, with human weaknesses, at the heart of the machine.

        The truth, of course, is quite different, but this canned tale of human error keeps us safe from this ultimate and awful knowledge.
  • means? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by qoncept ( 599709 )
    That's all a lot of work. Is this guy so important he cant put in (lets say.. an hour per show, since its an hour show and the music is (supposed to be) most of it, times 11 shows) 11 hours a week? What do they pay all the guys on the soundboards doing all the work?
    • The program runs each weekday. 11 unique markets (140 stations), 1 hour show daily, 5 days. That's 55 hours a week. Nevermind the fact that it probably runs at the same time in a few cities which would make it impossible for them to do it any other way.

  • This is just a simple case of a radio station using technology to bring high profile talent into a market.

    It's been done for tens of years. Ok, so technology now allows them to fine tune it up to every tiny little word -- that's kind of cool, actually -- but anyway, do you really think Casey Casem or Dick Clark knew anything about half the cities they were broadcasting in?

    It's America's Top 40 Dance Band Stand! Broadcasting right here in Minnoke!

    The union's just looking to save their local DJs some jobs. Carson Daly is not going to appear on every radio dial. The fear is, though, if people tune into this, maybe they would like more high profile talent on their other radio shows.. not local talent. Good luck unions! ugh, would hate to fight that fight..

    It would be cool to hear Carson Daly stuttering over his words digitally and repeating a star's name over and over and over again.
    • I have never before seen the word 'talent' used to refer to Carsan Daly.
    • I dunno about other places, but our local talent sucks ass. Not that I would want to listen to Carson Daley, but it would be hard to be worse.
    • Regulatory mandate (Score:5, Interesting)

      by burgburgburg ( 574866 ) <splisken06@ema i l .com> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:05PM (#5226604)
      Casey Casem was a clearly syndicated show, which is a format that radio stations are allowed to broadcast. But there is a federal mandate that local stations serve a local audience. The mostly artificial construct involved hardly qualifies as serving a local audience, but that is how the stations are counting it.

      A good exemplar: calling this show local content is like calling ketchup a vegetable. And that's what they've doing for all this time.

      • The mandate calls for serving a local audience - not for appeasing Union Labors job needs. There's a difference.

        Whether or not you like what Clear Channel is doing is a wholly different matter and people should and will vote for or against this with their listening $ - this is nothing for the government to be involved in, however.
        • The problem is CC is passing it off as a local program. Governments and corporations fight free press mainly because it's much harder to oppose the unknown. What is really needed is to ensure the program is clearly announced as a syndicated program, whether or not it is tailored for the local song order. Without knowledge, people aren't really voting for or against it, they're just assuming Carson did a whole show just for their town, and support or don't support based on that erroneous assumption.

          Shooting the whole story down because it was brought up by a union is fairly short-sighted. Obviously, they are going to try to fight for their members - that's the whole point of a union. Granted, fighting for another hour for a local DJ is less grandiose than fighting for safe working conditions. Union's can do stupid things. There's one grocery worker union here that pickets a Super-K, even though the workers inside don't want to be union. And that shipping shutdown a few months ago. So while whether we should or shouldn't care about the union is one issue, truth in broadcasting is the larger issue.
          • It's annoying that it has to be said again and again and again: It was the DOCK OWNERS who locked out the workers. The workers did NOT go on strike and they didn't walk out. The owners pre-emptively locked them out.

            I'm not going to get into the other issues involved.

      • I'm going to have to go take several showers after I post this 'cause I'll feel so unclean saying anything in defense of those people, but by tailoring the show's playlist to the dreck most requested in that community they are serving their local audience to a greater degree than if every station carrying the show ran exactly the same content.

        Admittedly inserting a Michael Jackson song instead of whatever the other cities heard in that slot stretches the definition of "operating in the public interest" almost beyond recognition.

      • Ketchup isn't a vegetable? Oh, crap! My food pyramid is collapsing!
    • Yep, I heard on the Howard Stern show that Wolfman Jack used to prerecord his responses in advance and left it to another person to create a conversation to fit in with his canned phrases.
      • Thats pretty common. Each morning a local DJ in my town has a "conversation" with David Letterman just before playing the top 10 list.

        I'm reasonably sure that Dave doesn't "go the extra mile" and call the 3rd ranked morning show in my small town every morning.
      • Um, everybody does this. That's how most radio stations get interviews with artists: they receive a CD with all the artist's interview answers recorded as separate tracks, and the liner notes are the complete script, with questions and answers highlighted. The local DJ reads from his part of the script (the questions), and then queues up the right answer tracks in response.

        What? You thought that rockstars personally visited every radio station in from here to Springfield? Bwahahaha!

    • 1) Yes, unions are just trying to save themselves a revenue stream here.

      2) This is messed up. The gov't gave broadcasters certain frequencies on the condition that they'd follow rules (provide local content). They are not doing that.

      Of course, I think all frequencies should be regulated in the same manner as visible light: You can't blind anyone.

      Given that we've decided not to deregulate radio properly, it would at least be nice if we could at least follow the few decentralizing regulations that we've got.
    • This is just a simple case of a radio station using technology to bring high profile talent into a market.

      Maybe they're bringing the high profile into the market, but I don't think a person's talent can be conveyed in the manner described. Of course, if the profile is high enough, talent is no longer necessary. And if the profile distribution is efficient enough, it becomes a vicious cycle: the profile is high because of wide distribution, and it's widely distributed because it's so high. Talent doesn't enter into the equation at all.

      Which makes Carson Daly the obvious choice for this procedure.

    • But here's the part that I don't understand: How to they handle the phonetics/annunciation/inflection? Specifically, I can say a word in 5 different ways depending on where it is in the sentence; what words I said before it (WOW! _They_ actually ...); what context the word is in (Killer! Bro! vs. He's a child killer).

      It must be one hell of a feat matching the phrases into a coherent sentence. I have yet to hear a telephone answering system even announce a series of numbers with any reasonable amount of clarity.

  • Damn (Score:2, Funny)

    by alaric187 ( 633477 )
    This whole time I thought that MTV and Clear Channel were picking songs that were really good instead of just shoving whatever happens to be popular down my throat.
  • by One Louder ( 595430 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @05:45PM (#5226433)
    She said Mr. Daly was unavailable for comment.
    I guess they forgot to prerecord that part.
  • by Dr_LHA ( 30754 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @05:53PM (#5226513) Homepage
    Max Headroom was great, however he was clearly from far in our future (the 20 minutes they suggested was obviously an gross underestimate). Current technology only allows creation of fake personalities with absolutely no charisma (has anyone seen Carson Daly's talk show?).

    Hopefully with increased technology we will be able to create in the future a media personality with the charisma of Max Headroom.
  • I have talked with someone who have worked for
    the likes of Clear Channel and other large
    multi-station broadcasters.

    This has been going on for at least two years now,
    especially with the larger chains.

    As I remember, he told me that the announcers
    would say a catalog of phrases to be digitized
    and cataloged into a data base. They would say
    each city's name; common street names, names of
    businesses, common school names, common church
    names; the list goes on.

    With this massive database of phrases (and many
    that can be used for different locals; Saint
    Mary's Church could be in Buffalo or Atlanta),
    now they can put together just about anything
    and make it 'local' to you.

    What is interesting is that many of these stations
    are becomming nothing more than a transmitter.
    Studios, productions facilities, and even sales
    and marketing have all but dissapeared from the
    local scene. All of that is done remotely.

    Local companies that want to buy ads now deal
    with the national office. They come up with a script. The script can be assembed via computer
    using the announcer's voice. Only if something unique needs to be said, does the announcer say anything. After all, Henrys' Fine Drycleaning
    has probably been used before the Henry's Fine
    Drycleaning in your hometown decides to advertise
    on the radio.

    School sports scores, news, and so forth, can be
    handled remotely.

    • Hmm, re. the bit about scripting localised content with computers, I can't help but wonder how it would color the slashdot community's reaction to the concept if it were presented in the form of a frontpage story by taco in his 'gee whiz, look, another cool application of computer technology' mode rather than the less approving hue you cast it in.

      Can someone take this chap's comment and submit it as news? That would, I believe, be our first meta-dupe, aside from the fact that it'd satisfy my curiosity. :-)
  • by Fugly ( 118668 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @05:57PM (#5226544) Homepage
    The on-air personality is inches away from being a thing of the past. I have a lot of friends that work in radio. Most of them have had the stations they work for bought by clear channel. Most of my friends that are still on-air personalities (many are unemployeed these days) are being pumped out to at least 3 stations with little tweaks being done to the audio to make it sound like they are local. Frequently celebrity interviews are mocked up from a stock tape of the celebrity answering questions with the DJ's voice dubbed between even.

    I keep hoping that eventually people will notice how sterile, packaged and crappy it is and that independent stations will be able to compete by way of superior programming. However, apparently people don't give a rats ass. They don't even notice how shitty radio is these days.
    • Frequently celebrity interviews are mocked up from a stock tape of the celebrity answering questions with the DJ's voice dubbed between even.

      Gee, I thought that was the norm...

      Seriously, unless it was a live show, I always assumed that radio 'interviews' were recorded.

      Maybe not with the answers recorded separate from the questions, but still...
      • by Fugly ( 118668 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:21PM (#5226751) Homepage
        I don't know what the norm was for sure I suppose. What I do know is that my buddy who was on the morning show for one of the bigger local radio stations here used to do all of his interviews live when they were owned by Nationwide Insurance. They were over the phone most of the time of course but they were on the air live. After they were purchased by JCorp, he was still doing most of them but not all of them live. After they were purchased by ClearChannel, I don't think any of them were live anymore though I could be wrong.

        It sucks too because he was an amazing interviewer who did stuff that you just won't here in a canned, pre-recorded interview. He has a great tape of himself doing his super exagerated Chubby Checker impersonation to Chubby Checker to get his opinion. Ok, it sounds dorky but it was hilarious, trust me. You just don't get creative stuff like that when it has to be general purpose.
        • Frequently celebrity interviews are mocked up from a stock tape of the celebrity answering questions with the DJ's voice dubbed between even.

        I used to scrounge around in used junk stores, and a couple times I ran across records containing pre-recorded interviews. They were great - they included the script for the DJ for the canned questions. I wish I hadn't been so poor back then; I could have bought them and ... never mind, they wouldn't fit into my CD player anyway.

        In one of my old jobs, the guy who wrote documentation had a passing resemblance to Tom Cruise. Whenever a new Cruise movie came out, he got a call from his agent to look the part and cruise the town (pun intended). Apparently it's a common scam to send out dopplegangers to get some local media buzz going.

        There are two kinds of lies. No, sorry, I lied about that.

    • A Clear Channel station in the Dallas, TX area is doing this right now; there's a radio 'personality' who used to be located in Dallas and does a show every night from about 7-10, I believe. In actuality, he's physically located in Florida (Miami, I think), but the station gives the illusion that he's actually in Dallas at the time of the broadcast, which he isn't.

      The funny thing is that the station doesn't tell the listeners that this is the case, so logically people will try to call in to get on the air with the DJ, only to find that there's simply a guy running the board playing the tape, and he has to explain to the caller that the DJ is 'busy' or 'can't come to the phone' or 'not taking calls'.

      Clear Channel is a disease to radio stations...all the playlists are preprogrammed and sent from somewhere else. There are no true DJs at these stations, just people who push buttons. And if you have 2 Clear Channel stations in one market, chances are you can find them playing the same songs simulatenously more often.
  • A Different Breed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by serutan ( 259622 ) <snoopdoug&geekazon,com> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:00PM (#5226574) Homepage
    From the article: "...members of a major broadcasting union are investigating to determine whether the techniques violate local labor agreements." Groups like the RIAA apparently are not alone in wanting to make sure new technology doesn't disturb existing revenue streams, and wanting to thwart it if it does. This kind of thing reminds me that geeks seem to live in a completely different continuum from the rest of the world.

    What would things be like today if, for example, computer programmers and electronics engineers had reacted in the same way to things like code-generating tools, CAD and microcircuitry, clinging instead to the practices of hand-entering 1's and 0's and wiring everything with a soldering iron, because more streamlined methods might threaten our jobs? I envision something like the computers in the movie Brazil, coexisting with pheumatic message tubes.
  • ....I formerly thought this was the main sign of the impending apocalypse for the music industry. []

    Seriously tho, Carson Daly's show will promote piracy even more due to the creation of specific shows, of specific music, aimed for specific audiences.


  • porn stars (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AssFace ( 118098 ) <stenz77@gmai l . com> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:05PM (#5226610) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand why this isn't done across the board with porn stars. considering how far they have come in 3d these days - just scan in a model for cheap and then they can do far more work.
    hell, you could even get rough mo-cap done once at a franction of the cost of needing her around all the time.
    the audio is obviously even easier than the carson thing.

    hell - you could have a system where you customize it so that the person watching it can choose what they want - color hair, skin tone, % bodyfat, etc.
    or even to the point of doing famous people, etc.

    is it still cheaper to pay real people to do it all?
    I could see if the technology wasn't there, but it would seem people would line up even at the level of playstation is right now.

    then again, I'm not really all that much into porn, so perhaps this is already out there and I'm just out of the loop.
    • Re:porn stars (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:08PM (#5226638) Journal
      >>Is it still cheaper to pay real people to do it all?

      Let's see..

      CGI rendered porn model - millions in development, artwork and rendering time, plus expensive render farms to do the computations.

      Drug addict in her late teens - $20 worth of crack and a Sony Handycam.

      Yes, it's cheaper.
      • Re:porn stars (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AssFace ( 118098 )
        well, yeah - were that the case, then yes that would be cheaper. but on the higher level porn - they aren't crack addicts working for $20 - they are working at $1000/hr and up.

        but to do it at the level of a game in terms of graphics (real time rendering) it would not cost nearly that - not to mention that once you have one model developed - you effectively have an infinite number (changing their look is easy once it is there).

        I would put it more at development of a solid model and perhaps viewing engine at $100,000 and a year.
        Once done you could do a crapload of stuff and make it customizable, as well as making a subscriber interface (EverQuest with sex).

        I have worked with the game technologies and know what is there, and have talked to people on the outside of porn well enough to know that your view of it is misguided (not saying that there aren't drug addicts in the industry - eps at lower levels).
        • I think the large start-up cost is probably one of the prohibitive factors. Nobody's going to finance a setup like that when it's entirely possible that the wanking public will HATE the virtual stars and avoid the videos like the plague (or more appropriately, gonnorrhea). Vivid Video aren't going to risk their current, wildly lucrative production model on the off chance that synthespians can make it in pr0n. From what I understand, a lot of pr0n consumers have favourite stars, whom they creepily worship and follow closely (literally, in some cases). None of that lot would likely take too well to virtual stars when they're used to the Jenna Jamesons and others of the current biz.

          Also, as mentioned it's a small elite who command high prices for doing porn videos. There's a huge low-budget industry which consists of some guy paying a girl to have sex with him while _he_ films it. I mean - no cameraman - how much more low-budget can you go? Just a couple hundred to the girl, a few bucks for some pina colada mix* and poof! You have video you can sell or put on your own web site. And people are buying, so clearly the synthespians are not needed there either.

          * yes, for that. How do I know all this? The diary of a low-budget pornographer [] (mostly not safe for work)...
  • by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:08PM (#5226632)
    What's to stop some enterprising folk from making their own, highly subversive versions of Carson Daly from recordings of his show?

    What's to stop those recordings from being either broadcast locally from pirate rigs, or injected into a Clear Channel satellite feed?

    Ok, maybe state and federal laws and the wrath of the FCC, if you care about that kind of thing.
  • by Spamlent Green ( 461276 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:09PM (#5226639) Journal
    Does this remind anyone of the DJ 3000 from the Simpsons episode "Bart gets an elephant" ?

    Boss: This is the DJ 3000. It plays CDs automatically, and it has three distinct varieties of inane chatter.
    [presses a button]
    DJ 3000: [stilted] Hey, hey. How about that weather out there?

    Woah! _That_ was the caller from hell.

    Well, hot dog! We have a weiner.

    Bill: Man, that thing's great!

    Marty: _Don't_ praise the machine!

    Boss: If you don't get that kid an elephant by tomorrow, the DJ 3000 gets your job.

    [Marty punches it]

    DJ 3000: Those clowns in congress did it again. What a bunch of clowns.

    Bill: [laughs] How does it keep up with the news like that?
  • Moviephone (Score:4, Funny)

    by Torgo's Pizza ( 547926 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:09PM (#5226640) Homepage Journal
    What?!? Are you also telling me that the guy on AOL MoviePhone isn't live? That they just cobble his sentences together with... a computer! This can't be happening! To think I thought we had something special together.
  • Max Headroom always makes me think of one of the most disgusting scenes I have ever seen in a movie: Somebody eating cold noodles (ravioli?) directly out of the can.

  • by Ezekiel Zachariah ( 615718 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:27PM (#5226805) Homepage
    I went to CCC's site and they had this link about a press release on music piracy (an always fun topic here at /.) so I read it, and low and behold there are some nice comments from the heads of various record companys. Some of the statements are rather bland, but a few really show the twists they want to make to common sense. Anyways, check them out.

    Record Labels Speak Out
    The recording industry, including the labels and their artists, lose millions of dollars a
    year to Internet theft. According to information released by the RIAA, US music
    shipments in the first half of 2002 were off 10% over the same period in 2001, with sales
    down nearly 7%. Clear Channel's move to lead the radio industry in publicizing the issue
    of music piracy struck a chord among the record labels:
    *The dip in sales couldn't be from poor product, could it? just a thought. Oh, and I always thought you had to have something to "lose" it.*

    Arista Records, Antonio "L.A." Reid, President and CEO
    "The plague of music piracy is spreading in geometric numbers and the industry is faced
    with the challenge of turning around the mind-set of a generation that thinks its 'cool' to
    obtain recorded music for free. Arista Records, its staff and its artists all support Clear
    Channel's efforts to bring the message across in a way that demands radio listeners'
    attention and dares them to confront a serious issue."
    *Ok, as a guy who grew up taping music from the radio, I would like to point out that my generation started this trend. Sheesh, give credit where credit is due.*

    Atlantic Records, Craig Kallman, Co -President
    "Everyone involved in music has to commend Clear Channel for partnering with our
    artists to get the truth out about Internet piracy and the terrible impact that it's having on
    musicians. Their PSAs are humanizing an injustice that threatens every musician's
    *"...humanizing an injustice..."? Umm, right. If you buy this I am running a "Old Retired Senator's Fund", which aims to soften the blow of leaving public office.*

    Columbia Records, Charlie Walk, Executive Vice President Promotion
    "We're happy to see Clear Channel coming on board and educating young fans that music
    has real value that should not be taken for granted. Artists deserve to be compensated for
    the music they create, just like anyone else deserves to be paid for the work that they do."
    *Education? Re-Education more like.*

    Elektra Entertainment Group, Sylvia Rhone, Chairman/CEO
    "Illegal downloading and other forms of music piracy have had a devastating effect on
    consumers perception and value of music. With Clear Channel's enormous reach of over
    100 million listeners, they possess the ideal platform to educate consumers about the
    negative impact of Internet music piracy."
    *This is my favorite. "..devastating effect on the consumers perception and value of music.". I think its ok for consumers to decide that your product is over-priced and lacking in quality. I'm pretty radical though.*

    RCA Music Group, Clive Davis, Chairman
    "Clear Channel's efforts to educate the consumer on the destructive impact of Internet
    music piracy will be invaluable. We must protect our creative community even from well
    meaning fans who just don't know that with every file they download or CD they burn,
    they are undermining the future of the very music they profess to love."
    *I don't love music. I enjoy it. Like I enjoy ice cream and a good philly cheesesteak.*

    Pardon the editorials, I couldn't resist (ok, I could have if I wanted to, but I didn't).
  • I think Aki must deserve a mention... it's probably the first digital celebrity featured in Maxim's Top 100 [] and to pose nude [] as well. Woo!
  • sounds like voice tracking is the audio equivalent of printf format strings:
    for (i=10; i>0; i--)
    audio_printf("coming in at number %d, %s\n", i, songname[i]);
  • Turning test? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MountainLogic ( 92466 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:31PM (#5226834) Homepage
    If a generic local DJ can be replaced with such a simple tool then we are not loosing much. If the most brain-dead table look-up can pass the Turing test then perhaps local DJs need to do their homework, learn more about their community and really have somthing to offer.

    Rather than describe this as wiz-bang tech, I'd describe it as poor content production by local DJs. Don't get me wrong, I do want good local content. I do not want junk generic content spewed by a "local DJ" (read moved in from out of state last week).

    • >>If the most brain-dead table look-up can pass the Turing test then perhaps local DJs need to do their homework, learn more about their community and really have somthing to offer.

      They're not being replaced because they're doing a bad job; they're being replaced because it's cheaper for Clear Channel(and other corps) to pay the salary of one generic DJ out of state than a hundred salaries for a hundred local DJs.

      Unless they're willing to do it for free, they can do all the homework they want; it won't make a difference.
  • Radio sucks. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maul ( 83993 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:31PM (#5226845) Journal
    I don't listen to the radio any more. I'm tired of the increasingly stupid DJ personalities, the ads for stuff I'll never buy, and the same songs being played over and over. To top it off, I dislike static.

    Now they are making the stupid DJ personalities even worse by making them entirely generic. Yay.
  • my head explodes every time I fail to divert the little'ns' attention and switch off the television before the Barney song plays.
  • by MBCook ( 132727 ) <> on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:40PM (#5226897) Homepage
    Ever since I started watching Max Headroom when Tech TV started to rerun it, I've noticed something. It's distrubing how accurate it is. ALL the major networks seem to be trying to be major news outlets, but they are just ads. We are getting fed more and more commercials, Blipverts are surely comming soon. And a few major companies seem to controll just about everything. How long before ZikZak's... I mean McD's... starts giving out neurostimulator bracelets? Also, is it just me or is TV getting dumber and dumber, yet more and more popular. Am I the only one who thinks that they are testing out the technology that was used to make "Wack-its" popular on the show.

    The more "old" sci-fi type stuff I watch, the more erie it is how similar we've become. How long untill we're not ALLOWED to turn off our TVs? How long before our TVs watch what WE'RE doing so advertisers can see what effect they're having? How long before Max is invading MY TV screen?

    • How long before our TVs watch what WE'RE doing so advertisers can see what effect they're having?

      I don't have a link handy, but I recall hearing about advertisers installing devices on freeways to detect what radio station you're listening to, so they can target advertising...

  • by Anonvmous Coward ( 589068 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:44PM (#5226916)
    'Vaguest Description' goes to "Digital Celebrities""/ for this amazing performance:

    "Carson Daly's simulacrum is the new Max Headroom. I guess this makes Clear Channel Communications the current embodiment of Network 23? Now we just have to wait for the blipverts to start making consumer's heads explode."

    Not only were the pop-culture references so obscure that people were forced to demand assistance from Google, but they also had to RTFA in order to provide ANY useful insight!

    Partridge was kind enough to send me his accepatance speech, it reads:

    "I'm so pleased to accept this reward! I feel just like Kryten did when he was forced to wash 800 bedsheets as part of his sentence."
    • "Partridge was kind enough to send me his accepatance speech, it reads:

      "I'm so pleased to accept this reward! I feel just like Kryten did when he was forced to wash 800 bedsheets as part of his sentence." "

      Ha!! Man. There's going to be like 2 people on the whole planet that get that reference. Sadly, I'm the other one. Hopefully one day I'll move out of my parent's house.
  • by Malicious ( 567158 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @06:55PM (#5226995)
    WE've seen Mr. Burns tell Smithers how good he is at turning him on...

    We've heard Mr Bush call the American people evil [], and terrorists,

    We've seen OJ Simpson in Fuzzy Bunny slippers...

    Why should we not expect Carson Daily to get manipulated up the wazoo?

  • Ron Headrest (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So far no one seems to have mentioned Gary Trudeau's Ronald Reagan alter-ego on "Doonesbury,"
    "Ron Headrest" []:

    "I'll s-s-set up illegal covert operations and lie about them to Congress and the American p-p-people! If detected I promise to falsify documents, shred evidence and preserve plausible de-de-deniability! Then I'll take the Fifth! But with moist eyes! And selflessly ...!"
  • I mean, they don't even NEED Carson Daly himself. They just bought his brain on eBay [].
  • by dcuny ( 613699 ) on Tuesday February 04, 2003 @08:39PM (#5227706)
    I grabbed the following from the Clear Channel [] site. They appear to be quite proud of this technology. After all, it directly benefits us, the consumer!
    • Despite Clear Channel Radio's far reaching geography, radio remains a live and local medium in every market the company serves.

    Except, of course, when it's not actually live nor local.

    • Clear Channel Radio's size, however, allows it to leverage state-of-the-art technology and large-market on-air talent to deliver premium programming to smaller towns.

    "Leverage" is must be a euphanism for "use our market power to drive everyone else out of business".

    "Premium programming to smaller towns" is a nice phrase... You certainly don't want any local DJ on the airwaves. Thank goodness for Clear Channel!

    • Hugely popular shows can be broadcast all over the country, giving listeners the programming and diversity they crave no matter where they are.

    Ever wonder what "diversity" means? According to Clear Channel, it's "everyone listening to the same thing."

    There's a difference between "everyone is forced to listen to it" and "hugely popular". Pretty much everyone had to eat cafeteria food in my elementry school, but I don't recall it being "hugely popular."

    • Clear Channel uses digital voice tracking and in-market feeds to deliver a sound that is live and local.

    Except, of course, that it's neither live nor local. Oops, I'm repeating myself.

    The biggest scam is that the audience is largely unaware that it's canned, which means that your profit stream is based on the idea of deceiving to your customers. Any what justifies this?

    Oh, yes... Premium profits.

    • Technology enhancements across the board are changing the way Clear Channel logs inventory, sells airtime, programs radio stations, bills advertisers and runs promotions. Result: Greater value for both advertisers and listeners.

    Thanks again, Clear Channel! Those tunes sound so much better, now that you more efficiently sell huge blocks of advertising time through national markets.

    It's pledge drive at my local NPR station. I'm suddenly feeling much, much more guilty for not contributing.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.