The FM Rainbow channel of All India Radio was launched at a time when radio listening was on the decline especially in big cities. Technological improvements in the field of sound recording tempted young music lovers to opt for other modes of listening to music. Hi–fi, stereo sound on digital electronic equipments became preferred and fashionable. FM transmission on radio effectively served this purpose by ensuring noise free high quality reception to its listeners.
AIR was the pioneer in bringing FM radio to listeners in the country. The first FM Channel was launched on an experimental basis in 1977 in Chennai. The local radio stations of AIR which had their beginning in 1984 were all based on FM technology. They introduced the concept of community radio using the FM transmitter which provided local/limited coverage focused on the needs of the local populace and served the community effectively. Listeners of All India Radio thus got exposed to hi-fidelity sound quality for the first time. FM transmission subsequently got a huge boost with the opening up of radio broadcast to private players.
AIR launched the FM Rainbow channel on 01.02.1993. This was a channel to cater primarily to the young listener on the move. The Radio Jockey (RJ) replaced the Announcer. The presentation style became fast paced and informal to suit the changing listener profile. The vibrant programming and quality reception caught the imagination of the youngsters and allured them to come closer to their radio. In its round the clock broadcast, radio listeners were served with a varied menu of new formats of entertainment.
At present AIR has 206 FM transmitters across the country, by which it covers 24.94% of the area and 36.81% of the population of the country. FM Rainbow is originated from 15 centres, at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Lucknow, Panaji, Jalandhar, Cuttack, Kodaikanal, Tiruchirapalli, Coimbatore, Vishakhapatnam, Puducherry and Vijayawada. AIR Delhi Rainbow is relayed fully from Mussorie, Kanpur, Aligarh, Kasauli, Kurseong, Leh, Aurangabad, Kochi, Cherrapunji and Shillong and partly from Hyderabad, Bhadrava, Poonch, Rajauri, Naushera, RK Srinagar, RK Jammu, Jhansi, Dharamshala, and Bhatinda. The programming of FM Rainbow includes Pop music, Film songs, Classical & Devotional music, News Headlines, informal chat shows, phone-in programmes etc. AIR FM Rainbow commands an impressive listening and holds its own among private FM Channels.