History of Indian Radio is the history of radio broadcast that started in India with the setting up of a private radio service in Chennai, in the year 1924. In that same year, British government gave license to the Indian Broadcasting Company, to launch Radio stations in Mumbai and Kolkata. Later as the company became bankrupt, the government took possession of the transmitters and began its operations as the Indian State Broadcasting Corporation. In the year 1936, it was renamed All India Radio (AIR) and the Department of Communications managed it entirely. After independence, All India Radio was converted into a separate Department. All India Radio has five regional headquarters in New Delhi, for the North Zone; in Kolkata, for the East Zone; in Guwahati, for the North-East Zone, in Mumbai, for the West Zone; and in Chennai, for the South Zone.
In the year 1957, All India Radio was renamed Akashvani, which is controlled by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. During the period of independence only a mere 6 radio stations existed through out the country. But during the late 1990s, the network of All India Radio extended to almost 146 AM stations. Moreover the Integrated North-East Service focused on reaching to the population in northeast India. All India Radio offers programmes in English, Hindi and numerous regional and local languages. In the year 1967, Commercial Radio services started in India. The initiative was taken by Vividh Bharati and Commercial Service, from the headquarters in Mumbai. Vividh Bharati accumulated revenues from widespread sponsorships and advertisements. During the mid-1990s, broadcasting was carried on from 31 AM and FM stations.
By 1994, there were around 85 FM stations and 73 short wave stations that linked the whole nation. The broadcasting technology in India is basically indigenous and reaches far and wide to various listeners like farmers who require various updated information on agriculture. Between 1970 and 1994, the amount of radio receivers increased manifold, almost five times. From the initial 14 million, the number increased to a staggering 65 million. The broadcast services from foreign countries are provided by the External Services Division of All India Radio. Almost 70 hours of news, entertainment programmes were broadcasted in 1994 in various languages with the help of 32 shortwave transmitters.
After Independence, Indian radio was regarded as a vital medium of networking and communication, mainly because of the lack of any other mediums. All the major national affairs and social events were transmitted through radio. Indian radio played a significant role in social integration of the entire nation. All India Radio mainly focused on development of a national consciousness as well as over all National integration. Programming was organised and created keeping in mind the solitary purpose of national political integration. This supported in prevailing over the imperative crisis of political instability, which was created after the Independence. Thus political enhancement and progressive nation building efforts were aided by the transmission of planned broadcasts.
All India Radio also provided assistance in enhancing the economic condition of the country. Indian radio was particularly designed and programmed to provide support to the procedure of social improvement, which was a vital pre-requisite of economic enhancement. The leading development beliefs of the time analysed the problems and hindrances in development as the primary ones in the developing nations. The function of broadcasting paved a way for the surge of modern concepts. Later, with the modernisation of the country, television was introduced and broadcasting achieved new status. But by then, radio had become a veteran medium in India. Diverse programmes including entertainment and melodious songs were also transmitted nationwide. Akashvani or All India Radio still stands as one of the biggest radio networks around the globe.