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Evolution of Indian Radio Stations in Trinidad & Tobago

May 30 is observed as Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad and Tobago

Indian Arrival Day is a national holiday celebrated in various nations of the Caribbean and the island country of Mauritius on different days to acknowledge the first wave of arrival of laborers from the Indian subcontinent by British colonial authorities. Often observed as a national holiday in most of the concerned countries, this day is abound with cultural events that indulge the Indian population.

May 30th, 1845 saw the entry of Indians into the island of Trinidad & Tobago, and even 170 years later, today, Indian Arrival Day is honored with speeches from the Prime Minister and award ceremonies to recognize the efforts made by outstanding Trinidadians & Tobagonians in bettering inland communities, and the nation as a whole.

It is, therefore, an apt time to explore the virtual presence of Indian institutions in this nation. Out of the 39 registered local FM radio stations that cater to the widely diverse cultures that the island harbors, 9 stations are Hindu and Indian-formatted. Which is why, stations like 103.1 FM: “The First… The Finest”, Taj 92.3 FM: “Celebrating Passion and Culture”, Heritage Radio 101.7 FM: “The Pulse of the Nation”, and 90.5 FM: “The People’s Station” will make the Indian diaspora feel right at home.

All of these stations target different audiences. According to Dr. Kumar Mahabhir, Sangeet 106.1 and WIN Radio 101.1 are famous for remixes of dancehall and reggae to indulge the youth, while Taj 92.3 FM appeals, primarily, to professional women belonging to the high income class and enjoy a modern lifestyle. Radio 90.5 works to promote the international releases of Indian films, and Heritage Radio 101.7 plays music from a plethora of genres, including calypso. Trinidad Raio 90.5 stands out from the other stations thanks to its upbeat and creative characteristics. In many of its pioneering ventures, this station has managed to come up with a mobile application for smart phones, collaborate with Bollywood playback singers, release a live stream online, and even hold the famous Bollywood Music Awards in Trinidad in 2005, before any other station, and is truly commendable.

103.1 FM and Radio Jaagriti 102.7 FM are stations of special importance in the history of Indian Radio. 103.1 FM was Trinidad & Tobago’s first Indian-customized station to run 24 hours a day, and it met with unprecedented success, which highlighted the fact that there was an immense need for radio media solely dedicated to Indian cultural and religious programs. 103.1 FM inspired many other stations to follow in its footsteps and cater to the Indian population, because there was a lot of economic power involved in this sector.

Similarly, Radio Jaagriti 102.7 FM, now available as a streaming station on the internet as well as a satellite radio station, was the first exclusively Hindu radio station in the world which aired in 2013. Keeping true to its Hindu roots, Jaagriti does not market alcohol and meat products, or even encourage parties. More importantly, with a whooping 2.4 million website hits from June 2015 to May 2016, this station is arguably the most popular one in the country. Aakash Vaani soon sprung up as a close competitor to Jaagriti, but it is widely managed by non-Hindu communities and backed by Guardian Media Limited. Jaagriti, on the other hand, is a product of the Hindu masses, and all of its profits and proceedings are donated to Hindu activities.

It is refreshing to see practices like these followed diligently to keep history alive all over the world. The advent of Indian radio stations in Trinidad & Tobago is quite reassuring. The Indian population isn’t lost and forgotten, but now forms a valuable chunk of the island’s demographic and economic entities.

-written by Saurabh Bodas. Saurabh is an intern at NewsGram. 

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