“We are incredibly proud of his legacy"
Avtar Lit, the founder of Sunrise Radio, Britain’s first full-time Asian radio station, has passed away at the age of 73.
In a statement, his family said:
“On behalf of the Lit family, it is with deep sorrow that we inform you of the passing of the radio and broadcasting pioneer Dr Avtar Singh Lit.
“Avtar was a visionary.
“He created electronic British Asian media with the launch of Sunrise Radio, the first 24-hour independent and greatest commercial Asian radio station in the world.
“Avtar entered broadcasting to give the British Asian community a voice, which he indisputably achieved and far more.
“We are incredibly proud of his legacy which has given much joy and opportunity to so many.
“Avtar is survived by his mother, five children, Surjit (51), Tony (50), Bobby (49), Serena (24), and Robbie (19), and his five grandchildren.
“He was a much-beloved son, father, and grandfather.
“As a family, we kindly request privacy at this difficult time.”
Sunrise Radio began life as a pirate radio station in West London called Sina Radio, which ran from 1984 to 1988.
Avtar took it over, rebranded it and put out its first licensed broadcast on November 5, 1989.
It is now the number-one commercial Asian radio station in the UK.
In addition to radio, Avtar was also a politician, having unsuccessfully ran for Parliament as an independent candidate for the Ealing Southall parliamentary constituency in 2001.
He finished third out of nine candidates, with 12.3% of the vote.
Surjit Singh Ghuman MBE, Panjab Radio MD, also paid tribute, saying:
“Panjab Radio family send their condolences to both the Lit family and Sunrise Radio family, Dr Avtar Lit, a broadcasting pioneer who was responsible for putting South Asian Radio on the air in London.”
Broadcaster and journalist Anila Dhami paid tribute, saying:
“Sad news. Avtar Lit was a pioneer for Asian media in Britain.
“When I was starting out, he believed in me and got me training.”
“And I went on to host on Sunrise – I think he and I were the only people to ever host a call-in debate show on it.
“My thoughts are with the Lit family.”
Kent Police’s Diversity and Inclusion co-ordinator Suki Randhawa tweeted:
“Sad news of the passing of a Asian media tycoon.
“Avtar Lit, founder of Sunrise Radio. He became one of the pioneers in Asian radio worldwide, my thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.”