In India radio broadcasting was initiated during British Raj dated June, 1923 — the programs were aired by the Bombay Presidency Radio Club and other radio clubs. The Bombay Presidency Radio Club alternatively also known as Radio Club is basically a sports club located near The Taj Mahal Hotel, in Colaba, Mumbai -the first radio program in India was aired from here —— well, till 1927 it was the only radio station in Mumbai (then Bombay). Then on 23rd July, 1927 Indian Broadcasting Company Limited (IBC) was granted sanction to operate the Bombay station (started on 23rd July, 1927), and the Calcutta station (started on 26th August, 1927). On 1st March, 1930 IBC went into liquidation, the broadcasting facilities went back to government — on 1st April, 1930 government formed Indian State Broadcasting Services (ISBS) and began its operations, later on 8th June, 1936 this ISBS went on and became All India Radio.
On 3rd February, 1935 Mir Osman Ali Khan (the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad) launched and nationalised Deccan Radio or Nizam Radio 1932 in Hyderabad state (it was also known as Hyderabad Deccan, the southern-central province of India – the Hyderabad state is now divided into Telangana, Hyderabad-Karnataka region of Karnataka, and Marathwada region in Maharashtra). During World War-II a district level new radio station was launched in Aurangabad (it was then the Nizam rule) and started broadcasting in Urdu and Marathi. On 1st April, 1950 Deccan Radio was taken over by Government of India, and later on in 1956 it was amalgamated with All India Radio, and since then it is known as AIR-Hyderabad. In 1947, when India became an independent nation, the All India Radio had abnetwork of six stations: Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Lucknow, and Tiruchirappalli — post partition- three radio stations: Lahore, Peshawar, and Dhaka remained in Pakistan. In those days total number of radio sets were around 2,75,000.
In the year 1948, while granting independence to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Britishers gave away their short-wave transmitters, which Lord Mountbatten was using for Southern-Eastern Asia command — Sri Lankan government installed these transmitters in launching of its All Asia Commercial Broadcast Services in three languages: Tamil, Hindi, and English. To compete with Radio Ceylon, Vividh Bharti was launched on 3rd October, 1957 — all the programs of Vividh Bharti are centrally produced at Borivali, a western suburb of Mumbai and uplinked to satellite, then 40 Vividh Bharti stations (also known as Commercial Broadcasting Service Stations) across the country downlink and provide them to All India Radio stations. Well, some windows for local programmes are provided to give a native flavour to its audience. And, realising the importance of advertising in accelerating socio-eco progress, the commercial slot was introduced in the year 1967.
Post India’s independence, All India Radio emerged as a prominent broadcasting establishment in the world, —— today AIR is one of the world’s largest broadcasting conglomerate with its domestic service network of 420 stations across India covering 92% of the total geography -reaching out to 99.19% of the country’s population via programs in 23 languages and 179 dialects. All India Radio’s external service division daily broadcasts 72 hours of programming with 57 transmissions in 27 languages (12 Indian languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Marathi, Konkani, Kashmiri, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Nepali, Punjabi, Saraiki, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu — and 15 Upcountry languages, that is: Arabic, Baluchi, Burmese, Chinese, Dari, French, Indonesian, Persian, Pushtu, Russian, Sinhala, Swahili, Thai, Tibetan and English) over 108 countries. In India, All India Radio public sector broadcaster carries broadcast in Short Wave SW and Medium Wave MW, private sector radio broadcasters broadcast in Frequency Modulation FM. Since 1957, AIR came to be officially known as ‘Akashvani’ -Voice from the Sky in Hindi.
Private sector broadcasters were not allowed until year 1993, government first experimented with selling its two-hour slot on Frequency Modulation FM Channels in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Goa, Varanasi, Indore, Hyderabad, and Visakhapatnam. The Times Group operated Times FM till June 1998 as the government held back from renewing the private FM operator contract.
The first phase of private sector operators began in 2001, and 108 licenses were issued for 40 cities of which 22 became actively operational in 12 cities — amongst these, ENIL Entertainment Network India Limited (subsidiary company of Times Infotainment Media Limited -ENIL, a flagship company by Times of India Group, incorporated in the year 1999) won the largest number of FM frequencies. On 4th October, 2001 ENIL launched its operation in Indore, Madhya Pradesh with the brand name ‘Radio Mirchi -IT’S HOT’, and then simultaneously started its operation in other seven cities of India — Times FM is said to be the original avatar of Radio Mirchi. On 3rd July, 2001 ‘Radio City’, Bengaluru (Bangalore) -India’s first private radio station started its broadcasting on frequency 91.1 (earlier 91.0 in most cities).
Today, while this is written there are 371 private FM radio stations operational in 107 cities of India. More over in November 2019, Government of India has announced 118 new community radio stations which are in queue, where 262 such stations are already serving tribals, coastal communities, farmers, and ethnic minorities.
As per AZ Research PPL report of April 2020, Radio Listenership in India reached to a new high of 51 million mark.