BBC Real Audio

The BBC makes a lot of its output available as Real Audio streams on its web site, both as a programme is being broadcast and also for (usually) a week later.

The BBC techs have done a lot of work to make this all nice and seamless. There’s a BBC Radio Player web application that does its best to hide the fact that it’s actually Real Player doing all the work.

Of course, there are those of us who would be much happier just listening to the feeds in Real Player. There are even some of us who would like to save a stream and convert it into an MP3.

But it can take a bit of work do get to the actual stream URL. It’s not actually difficult, but there’s a bit of work involved. And it gets a bit boring and repetitive if you want to listen to a few of them.

So I spent a couple of hours last night knocking up a program that would do away with all this drudgery. get_streams spiders the BBC radio web site and extracts all the Real Audio streams that it finds. I’ve run the program and dumped the results to a web page.

There are a still a few bugs. Or rather there are still a few inconsistancies in the BBC’s HTML that I need to work around (currently it’s not picking up the Today Programme feeds, which is a bit of a major hole) but I thought it was useful enough to release anyway.

Share and Enjoy.

Update: The Today Programme problem is fixed. I think we’re now getting all of the feeds. There are just a few problems left with the labels.

Join the conversation


  1. The streams for Today are given as pnm:// URLs whereas most of the other streams are rtsp://. I’ve now fixed the program to check for both and the latest version of // has Today listed – although, annoying, the word “Today” doesn’t appear in the link so it’s just called ‘7-8am’ and ‘8-9am’.

  2. It’s not going to piss anyone off is it? I mean, presumably there’s a reason why they don’t just have them as real audio files?

  3. Thomas, to be honest I have no idea. All I’m doing is republishing stuff that is already in the public domain (albeit stuff that’s pretty well hidden away).

    I believe that people at the BBC are aware of my page already, so I’m just going to wait and see.

  4. champion effort! like you say, not too hard to find the direct link, but this makes more sense

    request: 1xtra (for example) has archived interviews, etc — which are on-demand for more than a week — any chance of getting these spidered?

    thanks again

  5. Excellent service – thank you. Two comments- firstly it seems that not everything is getting found by the spider – any idea why. My perl is not good enough to follow exactly what it is doing.- secondly what do you reckon the best technique for manually finding the correct rtsp:// links is, half the time the link is just a parameter to an /aod html page, and when you do find a link visible on a page it is to a .ram and the way of deriving the corresponding .ra url doesn’t seem to be consistent.

    thanks for what you’ve done – now at last we can convert to mp3 and get non-linear broadcast radio. Maybe one day Auntie will wake up.

  6. I used to use R7C to capture the streams but I killed the URL fetcher and without it the BBC website is unworkable.

    Not sure how you prog works, far to complaex for me, but is it possible to put a URL in a and parse the Ram file and from that the stream from it.

    Excellent job.

  7. Yes, the BBC does know about your site. And yes, there is a reason why the BBC doesn’t just provide these streams in full as real audio files.

  8. Dirac

    The BBC is developing an open source video compression codec called Dirac.

    Good to see the BBC looking to provide alternatives to the spyware-ridden bloatware that is Real Player, and Windows Media Player. Jogin explains better than I can what I hat…

  9. Hi There,

    Thank you for providing this info – it saved me having to decypher all that javascript myself to work out how the radio player works.I have a litle query that you might know the answer to.

    The problem is that I have set up a Hauppauge MediaMVP in one of our rooms, using the mvpmc application. The mvp does not understand RealAudio format (it has a hardware mpeg decoder), so I can not listen to the BBC radio with it. I could grab the RealAudio steeam and convert it to an mp3 file to play, but I would like to be able to listen to live radio. Have you any idea how to convert from RealAudio to MP3 in real time and re-stream it to my local network? I have been searching about on the internet for this without success….


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.