In India, as early as August 1921, The Times of India in collaboration with the Post and Telegraph Department broadcasted a special programme from its Bombay office. This was at the request of Sir George Llyod, Governor, who listened to the programme in Pune.
The first radio programme in India was broadcast by the Radio Club of Bombay in June 1923. It was followed by the setting up of a broadcasting service that began broadcasting in India in June 1927 on an experimental basis at Bombay and Calcutta simultaneously under an agreement between Government of India and a private company called the Indian Broadcasting Company Limited.
After that the development of broadcasting in India proceeded with many ups and downs and in climate of much uncertainty. Improvements in technology also supported the change. The transistor was invented during World War II.
This made hand sized radio and on the go listening possible and an important car radio for driving listeners. In 1930, Indian Broadcasting Company handed over Bombay station to the Government and it was renamed the Indian State Broadcasting Service (ISBS). It was renamed as All India Radio on 8th June, 1936.
When India became independent the AIR network had only six stations located at Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Lucknow and Tiruchirapalli with a total complement of 18 transmitters.
Six on the medium wave and the rest on short wave were confined to urban limits of these cities. As against a mere 2,75,000 receiving sets at the time of Independence, today there are about 180 million estimated radio sets in the country.
Now the broadcast scenario has drastically changed with 177 broadcasting centres, including 65 local radio stations, covering nearly cent percent country's population. According to AIR 1995, there are 104 million estimated radio households and 111 million radio sets.
Until now AIR has been fully owned, controlled and run by the central government but now with the implementation of Prasar Bharti Bill All India Radio will operate independently having different nature of control by the government. Before 1976, television constituted a part of the All India Radio.
After that, it was separated from AIR and constituted into a new body and under a new banner Doordarshan. Now All India Radio is also called in the name of Akashvani like television is called Doordarshan.
Radio is one of the media units of the Ministry of Information and broadcasting. Today AIR has 105 regional stations, 65 local stations, three Vividh Bharti broadcasting centres, and 3 relay centres and one auxiliary centre.
The important point to be noted is that while AIR made a substantial contribution to the popularization of Indian classical music and light-classical music, brought literature in various Indian languages to the people's doorsteps and promoted an Indian consciousness and national unity, it has remained a state monopoly.
There has never been a radio station in India other than an AIR station since independence. AIR was the one and only radio medium.
The phenomenal growth achieved by All India Radio through decades has made it one of the largest media organizations in the world.