Robot AM radio

robot-am-radio

I used to have a bright yellow one of these AM radios which I found on The Old Robots.

His (or her, I never thought to ask) eyes lit up when people spoke or music played, as I listened to Radio Luxembourg beneath my bed sheets late into the night.

And thus began my love of radio. Now sometimes my eyes light up when people speak or music is played.

Stream Planet Rock radio in MusicBee on your PC

Pure Evoke-1XT Marshall edition
Pure Evoke-1XT Marshall edition

I wake up most mornings to Planet Rock radio on my beloved Pure Evoke-1XT Marshall DAB radio. But that’s in my bedroom, I don’t currently have a DAB radio in my study and Screamer Radio no longer works for Planet Rock.

Which got me thinking: could I somehow convince my digital music player of choice, MusicBee, to stream Planet Rock? It seems to handle pretty much everything else I throw at it.

The answer is yes; this is how in three easy steps.

1. Find the Stream URL

The first thing to find out was obviously the URL to stream Planet Rock. Thankfully that is displayed very prominently on their listening online page. This is what they currently are (although I guess, they may be subject to change):

  • http://www.planetrock.com/planetrock.m3u
  • http://tx.sharp-stream.com/icecast.php?i=planetrock.mp3

Both work, depending on the player you use, e.g. iTunes, Windows Media Player, MusicBee, etc; I use the first one.

2. Play the stream in MusicBee

Next, we need to tell MusicBee to use that stream.

Screenshot of MusicBee menu
File > Open Stream

That’s as simple as opening the menu and selecting:

  1. File > Open Stream.
  2. Then paste in the URL and click OK.
Screenshot of dialog to enter URL
Paste the URL then click OK

This may take a few seconds while MusicBee connects to the streaming audio feed and then BINGO! you’ll suddenly be listening to Planet Rock on your PC.

Don’t go setting your watch, though, to the streamed version. It can have a few seconds delay between broadcast and it emerging from your PC’s speakers. (My PC stream is currently 1 minute 25 seconds behind my DAB radio broadcast.) This is due to the software buffering enough data to ensure continuous playback, so that if some data goes missing and has to be re-requested from the server or if there is a local data bottleneck the audio doesn’t suddenly drop out.

What’s nice is if you use the first URL (the one ending /planetrock.m3u) then MusicBee will also display the name of the track currently playing:

Screenshot showing the name of the track currently playing: Iron Maiden—Wrathchild
Now playing…

3. Save the stream as a playlist

The final thing we need to do is tell MusicBee to remember this station. It would be a bit of a hassle to have to find, copy and paste that URL every time you want to listen to the radio.

Again, that’s simple.

  1. Right-click the name of the track
  2. From the context-menu select: Send To… > Playlist > <New Playlist>.
  3. A new playlist will be created in the Playlists panel, with the edit caret waiting for you to give it a name.
  4. Enter a meaningful name, mine says Planet Rock DAB.
  5. Then press Enter to save it.
Screenshot showing how to save the playlist
Send to > Playlist >

Conclusion

That’s all there is to it.

While I usually listen to MusicBee using the compact player view, when listening to streamed radio I prefer the mini player view which also pulls in the current track’s artwork.

Screenshot of mini player view
MusicBee mini player view

Listen to the radio over the internet

20110710-screamer-radio

A few weeks ago I received an email from a friend asking for help to look for a Windows application that would allow her to listen to and, more importantly, record programmes broadcast on the radio and streamed to the internet.

In my investigations I discovered Screamer Radio, a freeware application that… well, allows you to listen to and record programmes (to MP3 or OGG Vorbis) broadcast on the radio and streamed to the internet.

Features

It’s really simple to use, is small (not bloated with features), doesn’t have adverts (unless you’re listening to a commercial radio station!) and supports a number of stream types:

  • Shoutcast and Icecast MP3 streaming
  • Icecast OGG Vorbis streaming
  • WMA streaming
  • AAC streaming

One feature that it doesn’t have, which would be really useful and which can be found on similar commercial software, is to schedule recordings so you don’t have to hover over the record button. But that’s a minor criticism, for the most part I just want to use it to listen to the radio.

Updating the presets

Screamer Radio comes with a lot of built-in presets. Hundreds, in fact, organised into category, country, language and network. I listen mostly to Planet Rock, BBC Radio 4 FM and BBC Radio 4 Extra.

The Screamer Radio presets come up trumps for the first, but seems quite out-of-date for the latter two; it does offer BBC Radio 4 LW. The preset for Classic FM also appears to be broken.

After a little detective work I discovered the following URLs work:

  • BBC Radio 4 FM
    http://wmlive-acl.bbc.co.uk/wms/bbc_ami/radio4/radio4_bb_live_eq1_sl0/.wma
  • BBC Radio 4 Extra
    mms://wmlive-acl.bbc.co.uk/wms/bbc_ami/radio4xtra/radio4xtra_bb_live_ep1_sl0
  • Classic FM
    http://mediasrv-sov.musicradio.com/ClassicFM

I added them to my favourite channels by going to File > Open URL, pasting in the URL, click on OK to connect and then going to Favorites > Add current channel to Favorites.

Overall it’s a really simple piece of software to use, almost as simple as my DAB radio.

http://wmlive-acl.bbc.co.uk/wms/bbc_ami/radio4/radio4_bb_live_eq1_sl0/.wma

BBC Radio 1’s longest show ever with Chris Moyles and Comedy Dave for Comic Relief

20110318-chrismoyles

I’ve been really enjoying Chris Moyles and Comedy Dave on BBC Radio 1 for the last 40+ hours, not that I’ve been listening to it all, raising money for Comic Relief.

Much respect.

This screenshot above amused me, from the BBC Radio homepage:

  • On now: The Chris Moyles Show
  • On Next: The Chris Moyles Show

How does he do it?

Incidentally, this is probably the most I’ve listened to BBC Radio 1 for years.