Posted on December 8, 2020 at 4:12 am

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British South Asian radio creatives are massively underrepresented in mainstream radio, says SAAC

A group of individuals has come together to shine the spotlight on the lack of representation of British South Asian’s in mainstream radio in the UK.  

It is no surprise that the Asian scene seems to get worse and worse especially in the Radio community. It has been going on for years and the community is underrepresented badly not just in the U.K but other parts as well across the globe. 

Change is needed now. The fact that there’s just a handful of British-born South Asian broadcasters on mainstream radio in this country is “shameful” says one seasoned broadcasting professional. This is why the South Asian Audio see  (SAAC) are campaigning for better representation of British South Asian talent in UK radio.

Research by SAAC shows 4 presenters of South Asian origin across the major commercial national stations. While at the BBC, popular music channels Radio 1 and 2 have no British Asian presenters on a full-time basis while 5 Live has a presenter of South Asian origin in its daytime line-up with another starting in the new year, Radio 4 stands out on the national radio landscape as possibly the only station that has fully embraced British Asians and the contribution they have made to British culture and society. 


While 2020 has showcased a wave of cultural awareness in the UK, says SAAC, a group of broadcasting professionals who have come together to support and demand change, there has been little acknowledgment of the fact that British South Asian creatives are practically non-existent in mainstream radio. Few have high profile jobs in broadcasting and generally tend to be relegated to more ‘Non Editorial’ positions.

It’s certainly not reflective of the Asian population in London and elsewhere in the country, where the latest population statistics show that in the capital alone the  Asian community stands at just over 1.5 million with nearly 4.5 million  Asian or  Asian British in the UK as a whole, the West Midlands having the highest concentration outside of the capital (2011 census). The Government’s Office for National Statistics forecasts that in the first half of the new millennium there will be a potential growth of Asian ethnic groups of between 163 percent to 205 percent – in other words, double what it was at the end of the last century.

Says Am Golhar, Media Voice & Creative Entrepreneur for SAAC: “It’s Important to recognize that there is an issue, but more importantly to resolve this now and for our future generations. It’s humiliating to see the amount of talent out there with British South Asians being almost completely overlooked by radio bosses. We need integration, not segregation”.

With almost two decades in the business, BBC Asian Network radio presenter, journalist, and DJ Bobby Friction comment:

“I started on national radio 18 years ago and to see almost no progression across the industry in nearly two decades is quite frankly depressing. What does this say about us as an industry and as a society in general?”

Also lending his voice to the SAAC campaign is Asian broadcasting professional Mark Machado, Head of Production at 11-29 Media. Says Mark: “It’s shameful that so many large radio stations in the UK think it’s OK to employ us in IT, legal and finance departments but we aren’t trusted to express our stories and experiences on the mic. Hopefully, these shocking revelations will lead to rapid change.”

A final word comes from Sone Palda, Director of Westside Radio and Westside Talent: “It’s massively disappointing seeing these current figures. I was part of setting up the UK’s first Asian youth station back in 2000 – BBA Radio – where we developed many South Asian broadcasters that went on to present on some of the biggest stations in the UK. It’s a big shame that such little progress has been made in the 20 years following BBA Radio for South Asian presenters.

“Through my own work in radio, both as a station manager and as a talent agent, I believe that from this point onwards we can really help to create change by working more closely together with the leading broadcasters.”


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