For Brit Asians, listening to the radio establishes link with their roots

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London, June 30 (ANI): The British Asian community could probably boast of a special proclivity for listening to the radio.

Not many other ethnic groups within Britain demand so much from their radio stations. Nor can many others boast such a sophisticated offering, not only in terms of variety and popular appeal, but also its influence within that community, reports The Independent.

adio stations in the country target 2.5 million people of Asian origin in Britain at the moment, and this suggests first, the cross-generational span; and second, a booming growth.

There are three main radio stations - Sunrise (AM 1458), BBC Asian Network (DAB, Sky, Freeview, and online) and Club Asia (AM 963, AM 972, and online).

Sunrise, which was founded in the late 1980s by Dr Avtar Lit, and is now run by his son, the former Tory parliamentary candidate Tony Lit, focuses on older listeners within the Greater London area and reaches 328,000 people per week.

The hugely successful BBC Asian Network covers a vast panoply of issues and music genres and reaches 405,000 people nationwide each week.

And Club Asia, which, like Sunrise, is also broadcast chiefly within the M25, tends to focus on younger listeners and has 188,000 listeners.

Of the three, it is Club Asia that is growing fastest, and which offers the best clues as to the future of this market.

Founded in February 2003 by sisters Humerah Khan and Sumerah Srivastava, the station is growing very quickly, and eating into the gulf between it and its rivals.

"It's definitely our aim to break the monopoly Sunrise has on the market," says Club Asia radio jockey Shak Yousef.

"Our target audience is probably mostly in the 15-24 range, but all the young people who listen to us, and who become loyal, have elder relatives who they talk to about Club Asia. I would say this, but I'm convinced that if they listened to us just once instead of Patti they'd come over immediately, and not go back," he adds.

The Asian community, Shak says, have a penchant for radio because of the strength of their attachment to back home.

"Whether they come from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan or wherever, anything that recreates a sense of their roots stirs them emotionally. That's partly about the music of course, with its culture and lyrics, but it's also about things we talk about, famous people and food and so on.

"The other big reason for the growth in Asian radio of course is simple: Bollywood. Apart from being the biggest film industry in the world, it has just the most incredible global reach. Look up the top 10 grossing films in Britain since the year 2000 and there's a Bollywood film in there every single year. British Asians can't get enough of it."

"The combined listeners of Club Asia, Sunrise, and BBC Asian Network comes to 921,000 a week, which out of 2.5 million is a huge proportion [34 percent]. And we've grabbed a huge slice of that market in just six years. If we keep our fingers on the pulse of the community and keep sounding fresh we can keep expanding. Some people within the Asian community still don't know we exist; once they do, we can make them ours," Shak concludes. (ANI)

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