The tiny radio station that gave the name ‘Akashavani’ to the broadcasting system of the country is headed for its diamond jubilee i.e. 75th anniversary.
Just five years after the setting up of two radio stations, at Bombay and Calcutta on
an experimental basis, and a year prior to the Indian State Broadcasting Service turned into All India Radio (AIR), a small 30-watt Philips transmitter started experimental broadcasting to a small area in Mysore on September 10, 1935, from the rented house of a professor M V Gopalaswamy, in Vontikoppal.
A few sat together and hit upon the name ‘Akashavani’ for the toy broadcasting station, a name to be borrowed and adopted for its stations across the country by the AIR later. The Kannada word thus became a popular name for the entire broadcasting system in the country and continues till today.
Today, the Mysore Akashavani station is equipped with a 10 Kw transmitter and broadcasts programmes through 100.6 megahertz functioning out of its own architecturally designed building ideal for broadcasting located a few yards from the same old house ‘Vittala Vihara’, from where it began transmitting 75 years ago.
Despite the commercialisation and popularity of the TV, Mysore Akashavani continues to maintain its popularity among its listeners, broadcasting some unique and favourite programmes of their choice. Upgrading its technology and the standard of its programmes, it continues to reach its mass base of listeners in and around Mysore.
The station is celebrating its ‘Amrutha Mahothsava’ (75th anniversary) on September 19. Wg Cmdr M G Premkumar, son of the founder of Mysore ‘Akashavani’, who pioneered the kindergarten school movement in Mysore by establishing the first ‘Sisu Vihara’, now named after Gopalaswamy, then professor of psychology at the Maharaja’s College, Mysore, will inaugurate the celebrations.
Some of the firsts of the Mysore station was and education programme for high school students in 1950, Hindi lessons, ‘Gana Vihara’ music lessons, Pathanga environmental awareness programme, broadcast of news four times a day and rural broadcasts.
The programme for agriculturists it launched in 2006 continues to be popular among the local farmers as it offers technical inputs in a language that they easily understand and adopt, and also providing training for such listeners at the Agricultural Research Station, close to Mysore.
The number of farmers undergoing training has now reached 300-400 from 20-30 when it was launched initially. These farmers have joined together to have their own groups, ‘AIR listeners’ groups’ (Banuli Krishikara Balaga).