Early Radio In India

This article was originally aired over Adventist World Radio’s “Wavescan” program and now forms part of the Radio Heritage Collection ©. All rights reserved to Ragusa Media Group, PO Box 14339, Wellington, New Zealand. This material is licenced on a non-exclusive basis to the South Pacific DX Resource hosted on www.radiodx.com for a period of 5 years from December 1 2003. Author: Adrian Peterson

According to the official records, radio broadcasting in India began on July 23, 1927, when the Indian Broadcasting Company, IBC, inaugurated its first radio station 7BY in Bombay. As time went by, 7BY became the more familiar VUB and the Indian Broadcasting Company was taken over by AIR, All India Radio.

However, in the eight year period stretching from early 1920 until regular broadcasting was established in 1927, a dozen or more radio stations were established in several of the major cities in India. All of these stations were experimental in nature, and some were very temporary, lasting no more than a few days.

The very first radio broadcast in India was made by Giandchand Motwane (GE-and-chund mot-WAH-nee) from Bombay in 1920. This low powered station was on the air for just one day under the callsign 2KC.

In the following year, there was another experimental radio station on the air in Bombay and this was a co-operative venture between the “Times of India” newspaper and the Post & Telegraph office in Bombay. The P&T transmitter carried these experimental broadcasts in August 1921 and they were noted more than 100 miles away in Poona.

A third, and this time a more substantial station was established in Bombay two years later again and it was on the air with 1.5 kW on 750 kHz. under the callsign 2FV. This station left the air when the government approved station 7BY-VUB was inaugurated in 1927.

The fourth experimental station in Bombay was operated by the Walter Rogers Company as 2AX. This station was inaugurated in 1925 and on September 6 of that year, Pastor Robert Hare made a historic broadcast from this station. It was the very first radio broadcast from the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the territories of what was then British India. Station 2AX also left the air when 7BY-VUB was inaugurated two years later.

Over in West Bengal, the Marconi Company from England conducted several test broadcasts from different locations in Calcutta. The first concert program was heard at a distance of three miles, and subsequently a discourse from the local gulf club was heard at a distance of 72 miles. This same transmitter was made available on loan to the Calcutta Radio Club who launched their own radio station in November 1923 under the callsign 2BZ.

The Marconi company made another transmitter available to the government in West Bengal who operated their station as 5AF. Both stations in Calcutta, 2BZ & 5AF, were closed when the national government established its own station 7CA-VUC in 1927.

Madras, now known as Chennai, was another city in India that received a radio station in this pre-broadcasting era. This early experimental station was operated by the Madras Presidency Radio Club under the callsign 2GR.

This station was closed in 1927 due to financial problems and the equipment was donated to the Corporation of Madras who re-opened the station under the international callsign VUM. This station was closed in 1938 when All India Radio established its own station for coverage of Madras and the callsign VUM was transferred from the old club station to the new AIR station.

We could also mention that there is a listing in an old radio directory for a station operated by the Crompton Electric Company in Madras and another station in Bangalore, both in the same year 1926, though it is not knwon as to whether these stations were ever established.

Perhaps we could also mention the tiny one watt station that a postal official established at his home in Hyderabad back in the year 1933. And, it would appear that there were a few other early radio stations during this pre-broadcasting era, the details of which have been lost over the years. Maybe there were just four or five in this category, and who knows, maybe the information about some of these other stations may yet come to light.

Early Mediumwave Stations in India – Broadcasting

Time Lines

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Station Location kHz kW Open Date Close Date Owner
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2KC Bombay 1920 1920 Giandchand Motwane
Bombay 1921 Aug 1921 Aug Times of India & P&T
2FV Bombay 750 1.5 1923 Jun 1927 Radio Club of Bombay
Calcutta 1923 Mid 1925 Marconi Company
2GR Madras 750 .2 1924 Jul 31 1927 Oct Madras Prsdncy Radio Club
2BZ Calcutta 375 .5 1925 1927 Radio Club of Bengal
5AF Calcutta 706 1.5 1925 1927 Indian States & East Agency
2AX Bombay 1327 1925 1927 Walter Rogers
Madras 1364 .12 1926 1927 Crampton Electric Co
Bangalore 1926 Cont Indian Brdcsting Co, VUBG
7BY Bombay 1927 Cont Became VUB
7CA Calcutta 1927 Cont Became VUC
VUM Madras 770 .2 1930 Apr 1 1938 Jun 16 Corporation of Madras
Hyderabad .001 1933 1933 Postal official
————————————————————————————————-


Early Mediumwave Stations in India – Broadcasting

References

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Location Call Year Date Information Reference
————————————————————————————————-
India 1924 29 stations on air, 21 maritime, 8 broadcast; 77.11 5-3-24
8 broadcast:- Three known 2FV Bombay
Marconi Calcutta (2BZ?)
2GR Madras
Probable 5AF Calcutta
2AX Bombay
3 unknown?

Bombay 2KC 1920 1st radio broadcast India Gianchand Motwane SM18-9-84

Bombay 1921 Aug P&T transmitter at Times of India heard Pune AIR paper

Bombay 1923 Jun Radio Club of Bombay, Marconi unit on loan Baruah 1
2FV 1925 Bombay Presidency Radio Club 400 m 1500 w FIBS
2FV 1926 387 m 220 w FIBS
2FV 1927 1.5 kW 750 kHz WS137
2FV 1927 387 m 220 w (775 kHz0 FIBS
2FV 1927 Closed when IBC 7BY-VUB opened

Bombay 2AX 1925 Sep 6 Adventist broadcast R. E. Hare 1330 kHz 50 wTOI 6-9-25
2AX 1926 Walter Rogers station, FIBS listing FIBS
2AX 1927 Walter Rogers & Co 226 m (1327 kHz) FIBS
2AX 1927 Closed when IBC 7BY-VUB opened
————————————————————————————————-
Calcutta 1923 Temple Chambers music broadcast 3 m 77.11 5-3-24 607
Golf course talk broadcast Marconi 72 m 77;11 5-3-24 607
1923 Nov Calcutta Radio Club, Marconi unit on loan Baruah 1
2BZ 1925 800 m 500 w, FIBS listing FIBS
2BZ 1927 Radio Club of Bengal 800 m 500 w (375 kHz) FIBS
2BZ 1927 Closed when 7CA-VUC inaugurated

Calcutta 5AFO 1925 Operated by Marconi 425 m CRCB
5AF 1925 425 m FIBS listing FIBS
5AF 1926 425 1500 Indian States & Eastern Agency listing FIBS
5AF 1927 Indian States & Eastern Agency 425 m 1500 w (706 kHz)
5AF 1928 IS&EA 425 kHz 1500 w, directory listing WW12-7-28 24
5AF 1927 Closed when 7CA-VUC inaugurated
————————————————————————————————-
Madras 2GR 1924 Jul 31 Madras Presidency Radio Club 200 w 750 kHz RA20
2GR 1925 40 w locally made, later 200 w India Book
2GR 1925 Projected station, FIBS listing FIBS
2GR 1927 Oct Closed financial problems, given to Corporation RA20

Madras VUM 1930 Apr 1 Re-opened by Corporation of Madras RA20
VUM 1930 Apr 1 Operated by Indian State Broadcasting Service RA20
VUM 1935 770 kHz 200 w RN 11-35
VUM 1936 769 kHz 200 w RN 10-36 215
VUM 1938 Jun 16 Closed when AIR VUM opened RA20

Madras 1926 Crampton Electric Co, 220 m 120 w (Projected?) FIBS
1927 Crampton Electric Co 220 m 120 w (1364 kHz) FIBS
————————————————————————————————-
Bangalore 1926 Indian Broadcasting Co, FIBS listing FIBS
1927 Indian Broadcasting Co (Projected?) FIBS
————————————————————————————————-
Hyderabad 1933 1 watt station operated by postal official WS447
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Early Wireless & Radio Stations in India – Communication

References

————————————————————————————————-
Location Call Year Date Information Reference
————————————————————————————————-
India 1924 29 stations on air, 21 maritime, 8 broadcast; 77.11 5-3-24 Important:- Calcutta, Karachi, Madras, Rangoon, Bombay
Valueless:- Victoria Point, Diamond Harbour, Port Blair
Scrap:- Patna, Poona, Ishakur
Partly dismantle:- Maymyo
Mothball:- Peshawar, Lahore, Quetta, Delhi, Jutogh, Allahabad, Nagpur, Mhow, Secunderabad
New 1924:- Mingladon, Madras

Allahabad 1913 Before 1913 YBWT&T 1913
VWA 1919 Subsequent call 1919 Kneitel
1924 Suggestion to mothball station R 77.11 5-3-24 607 15

Ambala VVG 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

Ambala VVH 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

Bassein ROB 1913 Before 1913 YBWT&T 1913

Bombay BYR 1913 Before 1913 YBWT&T 1913
VWB 1919 Subsequent call 1919 Kneitel

Calcutta 1913 Before 1913 (Sandhead?) YBWT&T 1913

Calcutta WCA 1913 Before 1913 YBWT&T 1913
VWC 1919 Subsequent call 1919 Kneitel
VVC 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

Chebuda VTU 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

Delhi 1913 Before 1913 YBWT&T 1913
VWV 1919 Subsequent call Kneitel
1924 Suggestion to mothball station R 77.11 5-3-24 607 15
VVD 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

Ishakur 1924 To be scrapped R 77.11 5-3-24 607 15

Jabalpur VVW 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

Jask JKR 1913 Before 1913 YBWT&T 1913

Jutogh 1924 Suggestion to mothball station R 77.11 5-3-24 607 15

Kohat VVO 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

Lahore 1924 29 stations on air, 21 maritime, 8 broadcast; 77.11 5-3-24

Madras VWM 1919 Later call Kneitel

Madras 1924 New stastion palnned
VVM 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

Madras Fort VWO 1923 YBT&T

Mergui ROG 1913 Before 1913 YBWT&T 1913

Miranskat VVN 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

Nagpur VWN 1919 Kneitel 1924 Suggestion to mothball station R 77.11 5-3-24 607 15

Nainital VVV 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

Patna 1924 Suggestion to scrap Patna station R 77.11 5-3-24 607 15

Peshawar 1924 29 stations on air, 21 maritime, 8 broadcast; 77.11 5-3-24
Poona VVO 1922 Original communication station established in Pune
VVJ 1922 Original communication station established in Pune
VVO 1923 1923 listing
1924 Suggestion to scrap Poona station R 77.11 5-3-24 607 15

Poona VWZ 1927 Indian Radio & Cable Communications, established Kirkee
VWY 1927 Indian Radio & Cable Communications, established Kirkee
VVJ 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30
VWZ 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30
VWY 1940 Dec 13 1st broadcast VWY as Radio Francaise Libre d’Orient
VWY 1943 May Final radio broadcast from VWY

Pt Blair ROB 1913 Before 1913 YBWT&T 1913
VTP 1919 Subsequent call 1919 Kneitel
1924 29 stations on air, 21 maritime, 8 broadcast; 77.11 5-3-24

Quetta 1924 29 stations on air, 21 maritime, 8 broadcast; 77.11 5-3-24

Sandheads ROS 1913 Ganges Delta near Calcutta, before 1913 YBWT&T 1913
VWS 1919 Subsequent call Kneitel

Secunderabad VWX 1919 Kneitel
VWT 1923 Later call
1924 Suggestion to mothball station R 77.11 5-3-24 607 15

Simla 1913 Before 1913 YBWT&T 1913
VWJ 1919 Subsequent call Kneitel
VVS 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30
VVY 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

Table Island ROI 1913 Before 1913 YBWT&T 1913

Lower Topa VVT 1933 SWL&CB 1933 30

================================================================


Poona on Shortwave

References
————————————————————————————————-
Station Information & Reference
————————————————————————————————-
Original Communication station in Poona
VVO Communication station established about 1922; YBWT&T 1923 494
VVJ Poona 44.06 & 27.77 m; OSWL&CB1933 30

Indian Radio & Cable Communications station at Kirkee, Poona
VWZ VWZ 8690 10 kW Indian Radio & Cable Communications Co, Poona 6; RD 1928 117
VWZ Beam station 16.3 m; RD 1928 1 WW 27-4-28
VWZ Kirkee 5 shortwave channels listed; OSWL&CB1933 30
VWZ Kirkee 8700; RD 1936 SWL 1-36 275 122

VWY VWY phone to England; LI 79.23 5-10-35 44
VWY 8975 & 17510 kHz; RN 8-36 RD 1936 112
VWY Kirkee 8980 kHz works England mornings; SWC 6-36 RD 1936 95 130
VWY2 Kirkee 17510 kHz works Rugby; SWC 6-36 RD 1936 95 130
VWY Kirkee 9045 phone; RN RD 1937 10-37 148
VWY2 Kirkee 17480 phone; RN RD 1937 10-37 148
VWY2 Kirkee 17480 & 17510 kHz; RD 1938
VWY Kirkee 9045; RD 1938

VWY as Radio Francaise Libre d’Orient
VWY 1st heard Dec 13 1940, metronome ticking; R&H 79 12 2-41 52
VWY French to Syria 1st heard Jan 1941; 79.11 R&H 1-42 54
VWY 9045 33.17; 79.12 R&H 2-41 56
9045 33.17 Radio France Libre program detail; 79.12 R&H 2-41 52
9045 33.17 very strong signal; R&H 79.12 3-41 57
9045 33.17 Radio Francaise Libre d’Orient; R&H 79.11 4-41 57
9045 33.17 RFLO; R&H 79.12 5-41 57
9045 33.17 RFLO; R&H 79.11 6-41 57
9045 33.17 RFLO excellent; R&H 79.122 7-41 57
9045 33.17 RFLO even more powerful than previous; R&H 79.11 8-41 57
9045 33.17 Kirkee Radio Francaise Libre d’Orient; 79.11 R&H 2-42 57
9045 33.17 VWY Kirkee directed to Syria; R&H 79.11 3-42 56
VWY; R&H 78.12 4-42 56
VWY; R&H 78.12 5-42 56
9045 33.17 VWY Kirkee to Syria; ARW 77.8 6-42 23
9045 33.17 VWY Kirkee to Syria; ARW 77.8 8-42 49
9045 33.17 VWY Kirkee good signal, R&H 79.11 9-42 49
9045 33.17 VWY Kirkee to Syria pleasant program; ARW 77.8 9-42 23
9045 33.17 Kirkee; R&H 79.12 1-43 49
VWY; R&H 78.12 2-43 49
9045 33.17 VWY Kirkee heard again; R&H 79.12 3-43 44
9045 33.17 VWY Kirkee radiating to Syria; R&H 79.12 4-43 44 9045 33.17 VWY Kirkee service to Syria; R&H 79.12 5-43 44
9045 33.17 VWY Kirkee service to Syria last listing; R&H 79.12 6-43 45
9045 33.17 VWY Kirkee service to Syria last listring; ARW 77.8 6-43
================================================================

Early AIR Broadcasting Stations in India

References

————————————————————————————————-
Location Call Year Date Information Reference
————————————————————————————————-

Calcutta 1927 Aug 26 Indian Broadcasting Co, 2nd station, 1.5 kW RA20
7CA 1928 Indian Broadcasting Co 370.4 m 3 kW WW 1928
VUC 1929 Subsequent call
VUC 1930 Apr 1 Taken over by Indian State Broadcasting Service RA20
VUC 1934 810 kHz 3 kW FIBS
VUC 1935 810 kHz 3 kW RN 11-35
VUC 1936 Jun 8 Taken over by All India Radio RA20
VUC 1936 810 kHz 2 kW RN 10-36 215
VUC 1947 Continued after partition

Madras VUM 1930 Apr 1 Re-opened by Corporation of Madras RA20
VUM 1930 Apr 1 Operated by Indian State Broadcasting Service RA20
VUM 1935 770 kHz 200 w RN 11-35
VUM 1936 769 kHz 200 w RN 10-36 215
VUM 1938 Jun 16 Closed when AIR VUM opened RA20

Madras VUM 1938 Jun 16 New 250 w superseded earlier VUM RA20
VUM 1947 Continued after partition

Allahabad VUA 1935 1071 kHz RN 11-35
VUA 1935 Agricultural Institute, 100 w RA20
VUA 1936 1071 kHz 150 w RN 10-36 215
VUA 1949 Feb 1 Closed when AIR VUA opened RA20

Dehra Dun VUU 1936 Apr 6 250 w, established by superintendant of area RA20
VUU 1936 1313 kHz 100 w RN 10-36 215
VUU 1938 May 10 Closed, ran out of funding RA20

Bombay 1927 Jul 23 Indian Broadcasting Co, 1st station, 1.5 kW RA20
7BY 1928 Indian Broadcasting Co 357.1 m 3 kW WW 1928
VUB 1929 Subsequent call
VUB 1930 Apr 1 Taken over by Indian State Broadcasting Service RA20
VUB 1934 830 khz 3 kw FIBS
VUB 1935 855 kHz 3 kW RN 11-35
VUB 1936 855 kHz 2 kW RN 10-36 215
VUB 1936 Jun 8 Taken over by All India Radio RA20
VUB 1947 Continued after partition

Mysore VU7MC1935 Sep 10 Maharajah of Mysore , Akashvani RA20
VU7MC1927 Oct Spicer College Losey broadcast SAT 1-11-37
VU7MC1950 Apr 1 Taken over by AIR RA20
VU7MC1955 Closed when VUBG Bangalore opened RA20

Baroda 1939 The Gaekwad of Baroda, princely station RA20
1948 Dec 16 Taken over by AIR RA20

Bangalore 1926 Indian Broadcasting Co, FIBS listing FIBS
1927 Indian Broadcasting Co FIBS

Hyderabad 1 watt station operated by postal official

Hyderabad 1935 Feb 3 1st station

Hyderabad VUH 1939 Nizam of Hyderabad, princely station, 5 kW RA20
VUH 1948 Dec 16 Taken over by AIR RA20


Aurangabad VUX 1939 Nizam, princely station, 5 kW RA20
VUX 1947 Taken over by government RA20

Trivandrum VUR 1939 Maharajah of Travancore, princely station, 5 kW RA20
VUR 1950 Apr 1 Taken over by AIR RA20

Delhi VUD 1935 Under construction 882 kHz 20 kW RN 11-95
VUD 1936 Jan 1 Inauguration India Book
VUD 1936 Jun 8 Taken over by All India Radio RA20
VUD 1938 882 kHz 20 kW RN 10-38 215

Lucknow VUW 1938 Apr 2 500 w inauguration India Book

Trichy VUT 1939 May 16 5 kW inauguration RA20

Patna VUZ 1944 1131 kHz LI 79.24 15-7-44

ISBS India 1930 Apr 1 Indian State Broadcasting Service RA20
AIR India 1936 Jun 8 Becomes All India Radio RA20

Independence Aug 15, 1947

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