Desis’ love to hear, listen and speak about Shuddh Desi Radio – “Pure Desi” – in the foreign land
By Arijit Basu
In the heart of the nation’s music capital, Nashville, TN, two friends have come together to bring joy and community to the large and well-distributed Desi population in the United States – the people, cultures, and products of the Indian subcontinent. Shalini Dixit and Annirudha Sathe have lived in the United States for nearly two decades, and have often found themselves missing the music that they would hear on the radio back in India. So, they put their heads together and started on a new venture – their very own Shuddh Desi Radio.
On March 3, 2018, Shuddh Desi Radio officially launched. The radio station—whose name translates to “Pure Desi”—was created with the intention to bring together and provide a feeling of unity among the Indian diaspora in the United States through a variety of music and on-air educational and cultural enrichment programs. From an already-impressive 7,000 listeners on launch day, their listening base has grown to upwards of 350,000 in just over two years – and it’s still growing. This is an incredible journey, not only for Dixit and Sathe, but for all of their Desi listeners.
Dixit and Sathe only played Bollywood Music programs at the beginning, but with the station growing in popularity, they broadened their range. They introduced new segments in a number of regional Indian languages other than Hindi – Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Odia, Bengali, Gujarati, and Kannada. The programs, in addition to playing music, focused on the promotion of regional cultural events and the discussion of other important subjects like health and wellness, finance, and education.
One of Shuddh Desi Radio’s biggest accomplishments yet has been the creation of the Global Music Icon Competition. In 2019, the station created the talent competition as a fundraiser for music scholarships. The competition was staged in Blair Hall of Music at Vanderbilt University. Among the celebrity judges were Meenakshi Sheshadri, Shweta Pandit and Shibani Kashyap.
Shuddh Desi Radio was also invited to the “Howdy Modi!” event in Texas in 2019, as a representative of Indian media from the Southeastern United States. To add another feather to their cap, they were the only Desi Radio station that was invited as a media representative to cover the Miss World Beauty Pageant live. Recently, Shuddh Desi has started a related FaceBook Live segment to keep their listeners and viewers entertained amidst the global pandemic. So far, Dixit and Sathe have conducted interviews with quite a few renowned Indian personalities – Anupam Kher, Shankar Mahadevan, Mahabharata Krishna, Nitish Bharadwaj, Ad Guru Bharat Dabholkar, and Comedy King Raju Shrivastva, to name a few.
With the COVID-19 pandemic leaving the world in a state of turmoil, Shuddh Desi Radio decided to send out some positive vibes, and use their popularity to help surrounding communities. Dixit and Sathe used the resources at hand to organize an online concert named “Revival” in June – an online fundraising event for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital featuring singers from all over the US. In July of this year, SDR announced Global Music Icon 2.0., a virtual version of the talent competition that began in 2019.
While the previous year’s competition was held in-person in Nashville, the circumstances that moved the competition to an online platform allowed SDR to open up Global Music Icon to the entire world. This year, the competition brought in contestants from North America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. In three different age groups, contestants participated in various talent categories, including Voice, Musical Instrument, Public Speaking, Acting, and Dancing. Participants submitted video performances, which were then appraised by an esteemed international panel of judges – this year’s included singer Shweta Shetty, ad guru Bharat Dabholkar, and composer Rahul Ranade. Terence Lewis Performance Training Institute and Shankar Mahadevan Academy came forward to support the huge event, offering free classes to finalists 2.0 in the Voice, Instruments, and Dance categories. Part of the proceeds from this competition will be donated to local nonprofits.
Dixit and Sathe were recently congratulated by the Consul General of Atlanta, Dr. Swati Kulkarni, for their work, and the station has received coverage on Nashville Public Television, Nashville Channel 5 News, and in the Tennessean.
Shuddh Desi Radio is not just a name in the land of immigrants but, with its emotions and sentiments, been a successful delegate communicating with every Desi living far away from their motherland.
Keep up with the latest from Shuddh Desi Radio through their Instagram and Twitter pages. Listeners can tune in and listen live to broadcasts through their website, and view livestreams on both their YouTube channel and Facebook page.
Arijit Basu is a Sr. Clinical Data Analyst working with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. He is also a TOI Brand Ambassador for the Times of India, a show host for nrbnews24.com, and nominated as a 50 most-admired global Indian by passion vista.