Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

A guide to the UAE's South Asian radio stations

There is no dearth of South Asian radio stations in the UAE, but they are not all the same. We have a rundown of what's on air and what it sounds like.
Graphic by Alex Belman
Graphic by Alex Belman

There is no dearth of South Asian radio stations in the UAE, but they are not all the same. We have a rundown of what's on air and what it sounds like.


Asianet Radio

AM 657

• The lowdown: Asianet Radio began in 2000 to connect the expat Malayali community to their home state of Kerala.

• Personalities: Niyaz is certainly earning his salary. The announcer hosts at least three programmes for the station, including Evening Recharge, Radio Talkies and Uchabhashini. And with his theatre background and mimicry he keeps his listeners engaged.

• The flavour: Despite the colourful personalities, Asianet Radio is distinguished by its news coverage. With a wide array of journalists, courtesy of its parent company, the station is renowned for breaking stories and its exclusive news content.


Voice of Kerala

AM 1152

• The lowdown: VoK is the rebranded Ras Al Khaimah Radio, launched in 1991, and the first that catered to the expat Malayali population in the UAE. After several management changes, it was relaunched on January 1 to cater to Keralites living across the Gulf.

• Personalities: Reji Mannel is a familiar voice to the expat community. His shows, Morning Voice, Sabah el Kheir and Hello Marhaba, on regional music, are popular with listeners.

• The flavour: The station provides a balance of entertainment - an on-air game show - and information.


Radio Asia

AM 1269

• The lowdown: Since 1994, the station has been catering to those over 30 in the UAE's Malayali community.

• Personalities: Rajeev Cherai is the team's star, hosting programmes in both the morning and drive-time slots.

• The flavour: Variety in the form of talk shows, current affairs discussions and regular news bulletins to serials, music reality shows and game shows.


Radio Hello


• The lowdown: Since its launch last year, the station has been playing the latest and classic Tamil hits as well as providing regional entertainment news.

• Personalities: Reva hosts T20, a popular request show on Friday afternoons.

• The flavour: Like the station's name, the vibe is sunny and welcoming.


Radio 4

89.1 FM

• The lowdown: The Hindi station, launched in 1999, is a major player in the local radio landscape, with more than two million listeners tuning in to catch up on Bollywood and the regional entertainment scene.

• Personalities: The rambunctious duo Deep and Faizan are a popular choice for the after-work drive. Thursday nights are anchored by Harsha, described by the station as a "man who was found arguing with a lamppost".

• The flavour: Bollywood. The genre is celebrated with songs, new and old, punctuated by news tidbits.



96.7 FM

• The lowdown: Launched in 2004, the leading UAE Malayalam station caters to one of the country's largest expat communities.

• Personalities: Nyla, Afraz and Jean are the colourful folks behind the station's flagship morning programme, The Breakfast Club.

• The flavour: Non-stop Malayalam hits with regular breaks for Tamil songs.



FM 94.7

• The lowdown: Launched last year, this 24-hour station caters to the UAE's South Indian community by focusing on the two largest groups: Malayalis and Tamilians.

• Personalities: The station won't have any problems with the work ethic of its leading announcer Firoz. In 2008, the presenter spent 105 hours broadcasting non-stop, a feat that is recorded in India's Limca Book of Records.

• The flavour: In addition to a balanced selection of Malayalam and Tamil hits, the station covers Indian politics and the entertainment industry with its in-house music and film critics.


Radio Mirchi


(Abu Dhabi)


(Dubai and the Northern Emirates) and


(Al Ain)

• The lowdown: It was launched in the UAE in February by Abu Dhabi Media (which also owns The National). Since 2000, the Radio Mirchi brand has been a heavyweight in India with more than 40 million listeners tuning in daily for its mix of Bollywood music and news.

• Personalities: Farhad Hussein hosts Purani Jeans, celebrating Bollywood's golden era. "From playing all-time Hindi film music classics at night-time to recreating the magic of the golden era," he says, "the idea is to reach out to that treasured memory and transport one back to the days of home."

• The flavour: "The Mirchi brand is all about injecting sunshine into our listeners' days," says the station manager Sandeep Sud.


Radio Me

FM 100.3

• The lowdown: Since launching last year, the station has gone high-tech to give listeners a clear audio experience.

• Personalities: The jockeys radiate optimism and make it their mission to get listeners through their day. Aswathy's Wake Up Mantra dispenses inspirational quotes to help drivers with the morning rush.

• The flavour: Something for everyone. The station plays a large selection of modern Indian and Bollywood tunes, offers the technology programme Cocktail and the one-on-one interview series First Person.



FM 101.3

• The lowdown: Catering to the middle class and big earners in the Malayali community since 2010, the station plays the latest and retro Malayalam and Tamil tunes.

• Personalities: The sugar and spice personalities of the morning duo Vishnu and Neena add extra flavour to the morning radio landscape. The evening is capped of with Sherene's Gold Rewind, a show heavy on nostalgia.

• The flavour: The station is all about keeping the hits flowing during the long hours spent in UAE traffic, with chatty radio announcers and competitions.



101.6 FM

• The lowdown: Aimed at the 15-to 34-year-old market, the station focuses on Bollywood, fashion and social trends and has been on the air since 2002.

• Personalities: Bend It Like City is hosted by Karishma (aka The Saatak Queen), known for her droll and sarcastic life observations. "Mama's boy" Lokesh is a neat foil to his Breakfast No 1 show co-host Malavika, who received a tattoo live on air.

• The flavour Irreverent and fast paced, the station is perfect for those with short attention spans.



102.4 FM

• The lowdown: Since launching last year, the station has been playing an eclectic mix of Hindi and Urdu music, including Bollywood, British-Asian (think Jay Sean), Pakistani and traditional ghazals.

• Personalities: Abhijeet gets the party started with his evening show OMG (Oye Mera Gaana). For something less taxing, there is One Two Ka Four and the host Dev's thoughtful take on the world.

• The flavour: One of the more interesting players, it truly reflects the multiculturalism of the UAE's Asian communities.



FM 106.2

• The lowdown: The name is an acronym for Hindi, Urdu and Malayalam. It was chosen through a public contest when the radio station was launched in 2005.

• Personalities: The easy-going host Aroma kicks off the day with her Rainbow Morning Show while Aftab keeps the hits rolling in the afternoon with the drive-time show Music On Demand.

• The flavour: Hindi and Urdu music and cricket coverage are the factors of the station's continuing popularity.


Radio Spice


• The lowdown: Launched in 2007, it offers Hindi, pop and dance music for listeners who are "young at heart and citizens of the world".

• Personalities: Radio Spice holds the exclusive rights to broadcast A State of Trance in the UAE - the show hosted by the superstar dance DJ Armin van Buuren. Those wanting wacky life tips such as how to outsmart your boss can listen to Yamini's midmorning show Stop Work Dial Spice.

• The flavour: Vibrant and youthful, the station has the most edgy playlist from trance, Hindi to the occasional Arabic club track.



97.8 FM

• The lowdown: Launched last month, it is the UAE's latest Hindi and Urdu music station, which comes complete with its own theme tune composed by the Oscar winner AR Rahman. News broadcasts have access to reports by the BBC World Service.

• Personalities: The morning show, Josh Jumpstart, is hosted by the "million ideas a minute" presenters Anjaan and Meghana. The evening can be spent with Late Night Josh as host Preetam ensures the mood is sanguine with songs that are neither too loud nor too quiet.

• The flavour: Targeted at "young, ambitious and fun-loving South Asian expats", no tune goes back more than five years.

Updated: July 12, 2012 04:00 AM



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