A FAMILY has paid tribute to a pioneer of Asian radio in the UK, who had his memorial service in Southall last weekend.
Manjit Singh Gehdu died on October 30 aged 63 after suffering from a heart attack in his sleep while at his ancestral home village of Khatkar Kalan in the Punjab, India.
He was 26 years old when he came to Britain in 1974 to continue his higher education, where he studied a diploma in lithography at The London College of Printing.
His love for performing and entertaining eventually brought him to radio where, with several others, he set up the first Asian radio station in the UK.
Initially a pirate station known as Sina Radio, Manjit often broadcasted from his home in Southall while trying to keep out of view of the authorities as at the time, pirate stations were considered illegal.
Thanks to his efforts, Asians outside of their home country were able to keep in touch with their culture and stay up to date with current affairs and festivals.
Mr Gehdu then went on to broadcasting on Radio Asia, followed by Sunrise Radio and then Spectrum Radio. He set up numerous temporary radio licenses including a Sikh religious station called Pavan Radio.
He also presented Punjabi News on TV Asia and made countless guest appearances at cultural and religious events.
More recently, Mr Gehdu was managing director of Amar Radio, and at the time of his death was working on developing links with the All India Radio station, based in the Punjab.
His son Gagan said: “My father firmly believed that radio played an integral part in keeping hold of the Asian community, providing a medium for culture, language and music as well as news regarding all ethnic communities.
“He became an icon to not only the Punjabi community but to all Asians, with his ability to discuss domestic and social affairs and resolve issues that may be affecting the community as a whole.”
“He has touched the lives of many and will be loved and admired for his dedication towards his community. His daughters, who are both doctors and two sons hope to keep alive these dreams alive by setting up free health clinics in his home village of Khatkar Kalan. “
A midday memorial service was held on Sunday (November 27) at Ramgharia Gurudwara in Oswald Road, Southall,