India: 100 million radios, 750 million phones

In his keynote address to the Radio Asia Conference in Delhi last month, Kiran Karnik, the former president of NASSCOM India said when tv finally came to India radio nearly disappeared and people said it was “a medium of the past.” But in fact radio used that time to quietly make itself an unseen but important part of our communities, and now the coming of FM has transformed the medium.


Radio in India is no longer thought of as “old and tired,” the perception has changed, said Karnik. “Radio has become a medium of interaction and is now part of the dialog of people’s lives, it is not talking down to people any more, it is talking with them.”


Information, interaction and involvement are the key words for radio now. In cities and rural areas radio is changing to become more relevant and connected to its listeners.” The challenge, according to Karnik, is to build on this.


There are 750 million mobiles in India and only 100 million radio sets. 24% of those phones have an FM receiver in them. 95% of those with an FM receiver in their phone listen at least one a week to the radio on it.

Clearly people will be listening through their phones and once they have a phone they also have a camera and a voice recorder and much more, so they can become stringers for your station and can engage even more in the dialog, said Karnik.