In June 1923 the Radio Club of Bombay made the first ever broadcast in the country. This was followed by the setting up of the Calcutta Radio Club five months later. The Indian Broadcasting Company (IBC) came into being on July 23, 1927, only to face liquidation in less than three years. In April 1930, the Indian Broadcasting Service, under the Department of Industries and Labour, commenced its operations on an experimental basis. On June 8, 1936, the Indian State Broadcasting Service became All India Radio.
When India attained independence, there were six radio stations in India, at Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Tiruchirapalli and Lucknow. AIR then had a coverage of just 2.5 % of the area and 11% of the population. In 1956 the name AKASHVANI was adopted for the National Broadcaster. The Vividh Bharati Service was launched in 1957 with popular film music as its main component.
The phenomenal growth achieved by All India Radio has made it one of the largest media organisations in the world. With a network of 262 radio stations, AIR today is accessible to almost the entire population of the country and nearly 92% of the total area. A broadcasting giant, AIR today broadcasts in 23 languages and 146 dialects catering to a vast spectrum of socio-economically and culturally diverse populace. Programmes of the External Services Division are broadcast in 11 Indian and 16 foreign languages reaching out to more than 100 countries. These external broadcasts aim to keep the overseas listeners informed about developments in the country and provide a rich fare of entertainment as well.
The News Services Division, of All India Radio broadcasts 647 bulletins daily. AIR operates at present 18 FM stereo channels, called AIR FM Rainbow, targeting the urban audience in a refreshing style of presentation. Four more FM channels called, AIR FM Gold, broadcast composite news and entertainment programmes from Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai.