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AIR’s 80th birthday: Ameen Sayani narrates the story of Binaca Geetmala

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New Delhi: There was a time when All India Radio was more effective than a watch. People set their routine as per the programmes played. AIR celebrates its 80th birthday on Wednesday, and on this occasion, its most celebrated presenter, Ameen Sayani, has a story to share.

Radio club of Bombay began broadcasting programmes in June 1923. Stations based in Kolkata, Madras, Mysore and Delhi were set up. The Indian State Broadcasting Service was named All India Radio on June 8, 1936 which was renamed Akashvaani in 1956.

As India’s National Broadcaster and also the premier Public Service Broadcaster, All India Radio (AIR) has been serving to inform, educate and entertain the masses since it’s inception, truly living up to its motto – ‘Bahujan Hitaya : Bahujan Sukhaya’.

Binaca Geetmala was a weekly radio countdown show of top filmi songs from Hindi cinema listened to by millions of Hindi music lovers, that was broadcast on Radio Ceylon from 1952 to 1988 and then shifted to Vividh Bharati service of All India Radio network in 1989 where it ran till 1994. It was the first radio countdown show of Indian film songs, and has been quoted as being the most popular radio program in India during its run.

Binaca Geetmala show was hosted by Ameen Sayani, and was very popular in India, and was broadcast on Radio Ceylon till 1988. It greatly increased the popularity of Radio Ceylon, making it the primary source of popular film music on radio for the Indian subcontinent. Later, it was shifted to Vividh Bharti channel of the AIR.

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