Ruling the airwaves, for 75 years

VOICE OF MYSORE: The old building of Akashavani, also the residence of Prof GopalaswamyJust recently, the station organised the valedictory celebrations of the platinum jubilee.
Psychology lecturer at Mysore’s Maharaja College Prof Gopalaswamy was instrumental in the starting of the radio station. By sheer hard work and passion, he is said to have started the Akashavani station in his own house, and continued running it from his house for a long time.

The Mysore Akashavani station became the country’s first private radio station. The credit of starting narrow-casting, which is about involving a small community, and providing them with a platform to air their views and encourage their talents, belonged to Prof Gopalaswamy.

Also, the radio station first started functioning by airing poet Kuvempu’s verse. The first music programme was by Mysore Vasudevacharya. Even as the radio station gained in popularity, there was paucity of space in Prof Gopalaswamy’s house to continue operating the station from there. In 1939, the station was shifted to the old Mysore Dasara exhibition venue (today’s Mysore Medical College).

For six long years, Gopalaswamy operated the radio station, spending from his own pocket. Later, owing to financial constraints, he handed over its functioning to the Mysore City Corporation. From January 1942, the Mysore state took over the radio station. The radio station was christened Akashavani at that point in time.

Eventually, it was taken over by the Government of India, and all radio centres of the country owned by the government were named Akashavani. It was Prof Gopalaswamy again who was instrumental in identifying the site for the Akashavani station that is in Mysore’s Yadavagiri extension. After seeking permission from the then Dewan, he made arrangements to buy the site on behalf of Mysore state. The advice of German architect Otto Koenigsberger was sought to build the Mysore AIR station. The station started functioning out of the new building from February 1944. Later, when Bangalore was made the State capital, it was decided to shift the radio station to Bangalore.

After a lull in the Mysore station’s activities for some years, the station was started again on November 14, 1947. It was an engineer called Yedathore Venkataramaiah who was the principal reason for the radio station to rear its head again. The Mysore Akashavani station continues to function, and broadcasts programmes from 5.55 am to 11.05 pm. It is well-known for its programmes conducted for high school students of the station and Hindi lessons. The station also broadcasts music lessons in a programme titled ‘Gana Vihara’, and ‘Sugama Sangeetha’.

The station has the facility to air news capsules four times a day, and is the only station apart from Delhi, to have this facility, according to Station Director M S Vijaya Haran. The Mysore Akashavani station has won many national and state awards for its contribution. Several luminaries have worked hard to improve the station, including famous artiste H R Leelavathi. Among the famous interviews aired on this station included an interview of poet laureate Kuvempu by Prof De Ja Gow, a conversation between cartoonist R K Lakshman and Prof U R Ananthamurthy, and an interview of poet Pu Thi Na conducted by Veene Doreswamy Iyengar.

According to the great poet Kuvempu , “With the advent of Navya literature, the popularity of Navodaya poets began to ebb. It was at that juncture that Mysore Akashavani encouraged artistes singing my and other Navodaya poets’ verse. This came as a shot in the arm for many Navodaya poets,” he explained. Great words of recognition for Mysore’s Akashavani coming from a poet laureate.

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