Radio DJ Tommy Vance Family OKs use of AI to replicate his voice on air


Using artificial intelligence (AI), the voice of radio DJ Tommy Vance can be rebroadcast with his family’s consent.

The former BBC Radio 1 star, who had also been a Top Of The Pops presenter, passed away in 2005 at the age of 63 after a stroke.

Boom Rock will use the recreated raspy voice of Vance, who also hosted VH1’s Friday Rock Show and had periods at former pirate radio station Radio Caroline, to advertise the station between songs.

David Lloyd, the co-founder of Boom Radio, the station aimed at baby boomers, which also runs spin-off Boom Rock, said that Tommy was the clear choice due to his huge reputation and the respect our listeners have for him.

The idea of using technology to recreate his voice was a suggestion that came to several of them at the same time.

It is believed that recreating his voice and words using AI is a first for UK radio, according to the station, which plays album rock, hard rock, psychedelic and prog rock, folk, new wave and west coast favourites.

It works by an AI tool being given old recordings to recreate new sentences using his “voice” which then makes a package of different jingles and spoken lines.

These include Vance saying: “Rock. That’s why we’re here.”

It will also feature in Boom Rock’s opening sequence.

Recently, AI has been used to bring US rock n’ roll legend Elvis Presley back to the stage with a hologram concert planned for November 2024 in central London.

A tour using the late London singer Amy Winehouse’s digital image, backed by a live band, singers and theatrical effects, was postponed in 2019 because of “unique challenges and sensitivities”.

When he died, Vance, who had interviewed thousands of famous guests such as John Lydon from the Sex Pistols and Sir Mick Jagger from The Rolling Stones, left behind an ex-wife Stella and two children, Jessie and Daniel.A night of tribute for him, in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust, took place in 2006 with acts such as Judas Priest and The Who singer Roger Daltrey.

Nicky Horne, who has worked at Capital Radio and BBC Radio 1, and Gary Burton, formerly of BBC Radio 6, are some of the presenters at Boom Rock, which started on Wednesday, the same date Boom Radio began in 2021.

Boom Radio was created during the pandemic by former radio leaders David Lloyd and Phil Riley, and saw presenters hosting shows and playing music from their garden sheds and bedrooms. The late Paul O’Grady was also among the presenters.