When you log into Delhi-based online radio portal Radio 79, you can choose between these genres: relax, trip and dance. Their more recent New Delhi portal is a live radio channel, with a variety of alternative music by local musicians. The RJs sometimes add in a dose of international music as well. Radio 79 calls itself “the Voice of Alternative India,” giving their listeners “a taste of the best Indian bands and artistes.” For the active, curious listener, Radio 79 stands for New Age music-listening; one that allows you to browse through music based on your mood, and a range of underground artistes that you are waiting to discover. “We’ve consciously tried to create a platform for musicians who are not mainstream,” says 35-year-old Nikhel Mahajan, Director and Creative Head of the channel, who scouts for new musicians with fresh sounds, and thereafter signs a contract to promote their music.
Apart from categorising genres and producing radio shows, the radio channel, launched in 2009, has an introductory paragraph on every artiste on their website, including acts such as Ace Ventura, Bass Foundation, Dischordian, Vinyl Records and Sky Rabbit, among others.
Having been a producer with Red FM previously, Mahajan, who is also an electro-classical musician in his spare time (playing under many monikers such as Kalyug and Shiva Central), says that this is not a commercial idea. Their parent company, Audio Ashram, manages talent, handles events, gigs and entertainment for Blue Frog, DLF and five-star hotels. “Whatever little profit we make, goes to Radio 79,” he says.
They now produce shows and playlists for more than 112 countries, such as Brazil, Columbia, Croatia and Poland, among others. “We have a popular show hosted by the Reggae Rajahs on Tuesdays, and we’re excited about our upcoming android app, and a new website,” says Mahajan. The website, which runs 24/7, gets about 6,000 visitors a day, mostly from people in the 18-24 age bracket. How do they survive at a time when SoundCloud and 8tracks have dominated the music-listening audience, we wonder? “We’re proud of our listeners. We only want to create a space where you can listen to someone fresh, and learn about the scene,” he says.