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"Wavescan" is a weekly program for long distance radio hobbyists produced by Dr. Adrian M. Peterson, Coordinator of International Relations for Adventist World Radio. AWR carries the program over many of its stations (including shortwave). Adrian Peterson is a highly regarded DXer and radio historian, and often includes features on radio history in his program. We are reproducing those features below, with Dr. Peterson's permission and assistance.

Wavescan N285, August 10, 2014

A Visit to All India Radio Headquarters, New Delhi: Mr. T. R. Rajeesh

Back in April 2010, Mr. T. R. Rajeesh from South India, Alokesh Gupta from Delhi, and Anker Petersen from Denmark made a visit to the headquarters of All India Radio AIR in New Delhi. The visit was arranged in advance by Alokesh Gupta, and an interesting feature article was written subsequently by T. R. Rajeesh. The information in this AIR feature here in Wavescan is based upon the written article by Rajeesh, together with additional historic information from other sources.

All India Radio is one of the world's largest radio networks and it is still active on shortwave for both international and domestic audiences. AIR as an organization started broadcasting in January 1936 and since then it has enjoyed a steady growth. At the time of their visit four years ago, All India Radio was on the air with 54 shortwave transmitters, 149 mediumwave transmitters and 172 FM transmitters.

They have achieved a national area coverage of nearly 100%, and an average listenership of 350 million. All India Radio broadcasts in 11 Indian and 16 foreign languages.

The AIR headquarters is located in Parliament Street, New Delhi and they maintain strict security arrangements. The headquarters facilities are housed in three buildings, the oldest of which was built in 1943 during the British colonial era, and it was designed in the shape of a round cassette spool.

This ornate red building was originally constructed for use with a set of production and recording studios and administrative offices for the entire nationwide network. These days though it is now in use as a radio museum with still some recording studios and offices for a few officials. An extension to the building was added in 1954.

There is a new building at the same site with four floors exclusively for the Spectrum Management and Synergy (formerly Frequency Assignment Division), as well as Planning & Transmitter Maintenance. This building was constructed in 2002 and within it is the office of the Director General of All India Radio.

There is also another newer building at this site, the New Broadcasting House, where the External Service Division and state of the art digital studios are located.

The Deputy Director of Engineering in SMS, the Spectrum Management Division, Mr. B. K. Oberoi, welcomed the three visitors and introduced them to Mr. M. S. Ansari who is the Division Director. An interesting discussion on the shortwave medium ensued, its challenges and future.

The verification policy of AIR was also a subject of discussion and it was indicated that they receive a large flow of reception reports and at any point in time many reports are still pending. When a reception report is received it is sent to the concerned language department or the regional station for verification of program content. The report is then returned to SMS where a QSL is issued. Regarding their verification policy, they said that they plan to discontinue QSLing mediumwave and FM broadcasts in the future.

It was also stated that reception reports for the AIR General Overseas Service beamed to the European target area come mostly from Finland, Germany and England, but in total, most of the flow of reception reports come from the United States. Even though AIR does not intentionally target North America, yet the AIR General Overseas Service is well heard in the United States.

There was also a discussion regarding the experimental DRM transmissions, which are regularly monitored by Alokesh Gupta in New Delhi. It was stated that AIR plans to convert some shortwave transmitters, nearly 10%, to DRM capability in the near future. In addition, both mediumwave and FM transmitters will be converted to DRM capability in the next phase of development.

At the conclusion of the discussions, the three visitors were accorded a tour of the three building complex, including the twelve digital state of the art studios in the new building, New Broadcasting House. They also visited the External Services Division where the Deputy Director Ms. Nayyar Sadrudin received them.

Ms. Nayyar enquired about the broadcasts they listened to and Danish international radio monitor, Anker Petersen, handed her a reception report from a recent broadcast of the General Overseas Service. She called the announcers mentioned in the report and the visitors met Kaushik Roy who hosts the mailbag program "Faithfully Yours" and also Sanjiv Baruah. Interestingly, Sanjiv Baruah is the son of the former All India Radio Director General, Mr. U. L. Baruah who wrote the authoritative book on AIR, "This is All India Radio," published back in 1983.

After visiting the External Services Division, the trio proceeded to the old red coloured building, the original Akashvani Bhavan, where they saw the Radio and TV museum on the ground floor. Lots of old receivers are displayed there, including Philips and Grundig from the 1920s and 1930s, as well as old TV cameras, and many other items of historic importance.

Comments about the General Overseas Service are encouraged and All India Radio may be contacted by direct email at goesdair@yahoo. co. in. The Spectrum Management Division of All India Radio welcomes all reception reports and in particular reports from listeners in the European target area. Reports and monitoring observations for DRM transmissions are also especially appreciated.

A number of people have recently commented on the poor audio quality of the AIR DRM transmissions. They seem to be feeding the DRM transmitters with off air signals from the analog shortwave transmitters. Thus, DRM reception doesn't sound any better than analog and it certainly doesn't showcase the quality of DRM. So if you want to, you may give AIR your feedback on this matter.

Postal reports may be mailed to The Director, Spectrum Management & Synergy, All India Radio, Room No. 204, Parliament Street, New Delhi-110001, India. Email reports are welcomed to: spectrum-manager@air.org.in.