In the 1980’s Britain was a very different place to what it is today. Although Asian lived in the UK, there was little in the way of culture for or by the community.

That changed when Dr Avtar Lit had a vision. Starting with the pirate radio station Radio Sena, he then launched the first independent, commercial, Asian radio station in the world Sunrise Radio. Finally, the Asian community had representation and a voice.

I asked the former chairman and founder’s son Tony Lit how it felt to be part of such a revolutionary vehicle that gave Asians a voice, platform and above all, entertainment!

Tony was still at school when the station launched 25 years ago, but he soon became heavily involved in sharing his father’s vision and the legacy of the Asian community when he joined Sunrise Radio as Commercial Director in 1998.

As Commercial Director, Tony delved into every aspect of the station including production, accounting, sales, and scheduling. In the second year, he focused on the commercial side in order to create a financially robust business.

But it could not have been easy! If this was the first station of its kind, surely people were hesitant to jump on board and invest their money?

Tony agreed that this was exactly the case and it was difficult at a time when it was an alien concept. But after its success and people flocking to West London to see the studios, Sunrise became a catalyst for other media outlets.

Dealing with struggle and competition are something every business faces. According to Tony, it is better to focus on solutions rather than focusing on the problem itself, with a forward, future-thinking attitude.

And when it comes to competition, Tony gave some succinct, brilliant advice:

 “I can’t dictate what another person’s going to do, but I can dictate my own destiny”.

Talking of dictating his own destiny, I wanted to know how much of it was dictated by him or by his father while growing up. Was radio something he always wanted to pursue or did he enter the profession because his father was already a part of it?

Tony stated that while he was at school, he always knew that he wanted to go into business – any kind, it didn’t matter. He wanted to be part of a successful business and of this he had no doubt. Many Asian families have businesses and many siblings work with their parents. But it cannot be easy! Authority is hard enough to deal with at the dinner table! Tony explained that he and his father are definitely both strong and independent characters, describing himself as a ‘chip off the old block’!

But we all have variations of our parents’ traits. He said he sees similarities in his son but differences too. The key thing to working successfully with a family member is to behave like friends and communicate well.

Tony no longer works with his father as the station now has a new chairman and Tony is now Managing Director of the station. I knew that many loyal listeners of Sunrise Radio would have wanted to know what happened when the station went into administration.

Lyca Radio brought the frequency 1458, on which Sunrise Radio aired. Sunrise has now moved to the frequency 963/972AM.

I was also extremely pleased to be the first to congratulate Tony on international television of their achievement of becoming the first commercial Asian radio station to go national. Listeners will be able to hear the station from within and outside of London as of March next year!

He explained how he leads from the front. He treats everybody as a team of professionals, hired to fulfil a job. He does not sit in his own managerial office but in an open-plan office with the rest of the staff.

With such substantial experience in the industry, I asked Tony for advice for anybody thinking of beginning their own business?

He stated that anyone starting a business should have intelligence, integrity, be honest, and always lead from the front. He urged that people should also have passion and be ready to work and put in the hours. “The day I don’t have passion is the day I’ll toddle off”.

I absolutely loved Tony’s mantra and drive. His passion was evident and reflected in his words and a piece of advice that I loved and would like to leave you with from the show was:

“Don’t ever forget your roots but don’t ever give up on your dreams”.