Bollywood radio finds Bay Area audience

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- The music is pulsating. The personalities, overflowing with energy. And the vibe, pure Bollywood. Welcome to Bolly 92.3FM, bringing the beat of India to a fast-growing population in Bay Area cities like Fremont.

"I like to say that most of our listeners are based from India, we do have a lot of other people who tune in too," says personality Gurpreet Oberoi.

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Oberoi and fellow personality Shreeja Sharma serve up a steady stream of news, culture and Bollywood music, in a mix of English and Hindi. In just over three years, nearly half a million listeners have downloaded the station's app. That growth has been fueled in part by the influx of immigrants drawn to Silicon Valley.

"Of course the tech guys, because that's what Silicon Valley's all about. So that's mostly our audience, but we have across all demographics, all ages," says Sharma.

She says many casual listeners may recognize the sound from the popular Bollywood films. But for the Indian and South Asian community, the station is also a virtual town square, bringing together a population that's scattered across a wide swath of the Bay Area. And one that's also changing as second and third generations assimilate.

"I've heard this from many parents who say, this is a great way to introduce our culture to our kids because they're growing up here in America, I mean they're American," Sharma says of the younger listeners. "They really don't know much about India except what they get from their parents or grandparents."

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But with assimilation, comes opportunity. Executives for Bolly 02.3FM say their listeners boast an average family income of 250 thousand dollars a year. And advertisers like Fremont restaurant owner Sanjiv Gupta says it's increasingly important to reach them.

"So I think that's a very good idea, because Fremont has about a 30 percent Indian population," Gupta points out.

It is in many ways, an immigration success story, set to a driving beat. And sharing a rich culture, in a fast-changing world.

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