Kishan Prajapati, Programming Head, 94.3 MY FM

FM or radio as we know it in today's language is actually a magical thing to explore. We, the general listeners of radio, only like to indulge in the songs that are playing on the radio and never usually think about how we are able to listen to the radio in our homes. We surely know the term frequency as we tune into the right frequency to listen to our favorite radio station. But have we thought about what exactly is frequency modulation (FM), or how exactly the radio works? To find out, let us take a tour of the Magical World of Radio.

The first radio in Asia was Radio Ceylon based in Sri Lanka, started in 1923. After that, other countries also started their own private channels. The Indian Broadcasting Company (IBC) was a private company, which was given the right to operate two radio stations in India – the first one in Bombay on July 23, 1927, and the second in Calcutta onAugust 26, 1927. However, the company dissolved in 1930 and was taken over by the government, renaming it as Indian State Broadcasting Service. It was again renamed after six years and in 1936 All India Radio was born. For many years, All India Radio was the one and only radio station in India. On October 3, 1957, Vividhbharti service was launched by All India Radio to compete with Radio Ceylon. As a part of television broadcasting, Doordarshan was launched on April 1, 1976, and FM broadcasting began in 1977, which was expanded in the 1990s.

Times FM was the first-ever private FM started by the Times Group in 1933 till 1998. The government then took the decision of not renewing the contracts of the private companies. In 2000, however, the government announced the auction of 108 frequencies for the private companies to buy. This was called as Phase-I in the radio industry. Hence, Radio City was the first radio station of Phase-I started in 2001. FM LRS (Local Radio Station), later known as KODAI FM was one of the biggest individual FM channels in India at that time.

The Indian broadcasting policy currently states that the broadcasters who buy the frequencies will have to pay a one-time entry fee for a period of 10 years. Also, the annual license fee for private companies is either 4 percent of revenue share or 10 percent of reserve price, whichever is higher.

The year 2006 saw the launch of Phase-II, in which the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting auctioned 338 FM channels, out of which 237 channels were auctioned and sold. Phase-I and Phase-II made 243 private FM channels available in 86 cities, spanning across 26 states and 3 Union Territories. The Government of India decided to launch Phase-III in the radio industry.

Phase-III was the most important phase of the industry. It was estimated that Phase-III was going to add an estimated revenue of 550 crore to the national exchequer, if all the auctions went through successfully. The government also allowed migration of 135 private FM channels from Phase-II to Phase-III. Phase-III was launched in 2016 and implemented in 2017. On the first day of auction, 58 channels were sold in 48 cities. The next round had 266 FM channels available in 92 cities. Many famous radio channels got a chance to expand in Phase-III.

This is how magical the world of radio is. At first what was invented as just a medium of communication has now become an essential part of the entertainment industry. It keeps us in touch with our musical side – be it retro or new dance numbers – and gives us information about weather and traffic as also keeping us updated on current affairs all over the world. The FM radio is surely going to successfully spread its magic on us for ages to come.