South Bay's Bollywood radio station continues to grow with listeners across the globe

The voice of Bolly 92.3 FM's Shreeja Sharma greets listeners every weekday morning as she hits the airwaves for America’s Bollywood station.

"How do I explain Bollywood to someone who does not know Bollywood? It is actually the film industry that is based out of Mumbai in India," says Sharma.

92.3 was started just over a decade ago, created to serve the Asian Indian population, which is the second-largest group of Asian Americans in the United States.

"The last decade has shown us that we were right to think that it will be an audience for this and there would be a listenership," Sharma explains, "because we have only grown exponentially, you know, in every few years."  Sharma says the listenership has grown, saying, "[it] is not just Asian Indian, but also its people in that Indian subcontinent. That is as we say, it could be someone from Pakistan, it could be someone from Afghanistan or, you know, Bangladesh or other parts of that area."

With Bolly 92.3 it is about a creating a connection through the events, like Diwali the Indian festival of lights and Holi the festival of colors. Sharma says station events during those festivals continue to grow in popularity. She says in the early days, there number of participants were "5,000 or 10,000. Last year we had between 30 and 40,000 people, you know, at these festivals." 

It is about music, but connections are being made through language, specifically what is known as Hinglish. "So Hinglish is actually a language" smiles Sharma. "I would like to think, because that is how we speak English and Hindi in India. Growing up in Delhi, that is how I have spoken the language all my life. Therefore, we speak in Hindi. Then we break into a few words of English and then we come back to Hindi. Then we speak four sentences in English and then we go back to speaking two sentences in Hindi and it just flows."


She says, "Hinglish is spoken in a big part or a big chunk of the country and Bollywood makes Hindi movies. So I think Bollywood has some role to play in popularizing Hinglish as we call it."

Sharma got her start in radio in India, after her dad found an ad in a newspaper.  She says that while the Bay Area is home, she knows some of her listeners are just settling in.

"There's so much to learn and discover in a new country. And for somebody like me who's been here for a while, I can help with that discovery," explains Sharma. "I can help them discover. I can guide them to, hey, do you know this event happening here that may not be aware of? Give me 10 new friends and whether it would be, you know, when they hear or learn new things and that puts them 10 steps ahead of where they were like yesterday. "

More than a decade later. 92.3 is still a place that brings Sharma joy.  "I love my job. And my favorite part of my job is, I would say now the interaction that I get with my listeners."


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