Gyan Vani stations started to operate for the first time on air July 7, 2003 at 4 p.m. This national radio channel function as 'media cooperative' with the day-to-day programmes that are contributed by various educational institutions, NGOs, Women and Child Welfare, government and semi-government organizations, Ministries such as Agriculture, UN agencies, Environment, Health, Science and Technology and others. The national level institutions such as NCERT, NIOS and State Open Universities also offer great contributions to the programmes of Gyan Vani.
Each Gyan Vani Station has a range of around 60 km and thus covered an entire city including the adjoining rural areas. The medium of broadcast of Gyan Vani is English, Hindi or the regional language. Gyan Vani FM radio uses stereophonic FM transmitters, and the professionals operate the radio stations. Each nodal center of Gyan Vani is equipped with media from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU)'s Electronic Media Production Centre. The center serves several purposes of production, distribution and transmission of educational material. The services of Gyan Vani are available at the media production center and shared with various educational and training institutions, state open universities, central and state government ministries or departments, non governmental organizations, corporate bodies and other miscellaneous sectors.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) had been given a frequency in March 2000 for educational broadcasting in each of the 40 cities, while FM frequency licenses were auctioned. The ministry allotted the task of controlling Gyan Vani to IGNOU as it already had some experience in telecasting education on Gyan Darshan. Eventually, IGNOU started broadcasting in Coimbatore, Lucknow and Vishakhapatnam and later expanded to 40 other cities in two years.
Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), controls 40 FM stations of Gyan Vani for the particular purpose of educational broadcasting. Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) has nominated IGNOU as the nodal agency to execute the scheme, for which purpose Ministry of Telecommunications was also allotted frequencies. Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) offered all support for running the FM stations of Gyan Vani.
The Gyan Vani radio channel came into conception to endeavor and bring about educational and social development of the community through radio. It seeks greater empowerment of the citizens, particularly the neglected and physically challenged through their voluntary participation. Millions hear the programmes of Gyan Vani and the shows reflect the rich oral traditions and cultural heritage. Gyan Vani Radio is one of the best instances of community radio in India. The interactive, participatory and educational initiative to bridge the gaps between the educationally privileged and the deprived is also another aim of Gyan Vani.
Presently programme of Gyan Vani is being broadcast for 16 hours a day- 6 hours in the morning from 6am to 12noon and 10 hours in the evening from 1pm to 11 pm. The strategy and agenda of programmes depends on the originality of the Station Manager and the people involved to make the programmes exciting and useful by the best way of presentation and production, with the participation of the students, young people, educational institutes and other bodies related to the field of education.
Besides education, the hosts of Gyan Vani deals with a lot of subjects, which are discussed with adequate attention like employment news, career counseling, community development, blind friendly programme, women's empowerment, adult education, health care, rural development, consumer protection, NGOs, sports, mother and child care and many others. Other than educational benefits, the audiences of Gyan Vani also enjoy folk song and music and thus make the programme format interesting and dramatic in character.