Copy favorite radio station bookmarks from Windows to your iDevice
This guide may no longer be accurate or up-to-date for most users and use cases. We're keeping it online as a courtesy to its author, but we consider it archived.
By Deborah Armstrong, 5 June, 2011
You listen to an Internet radio station on your Windows PC and would like to listen on your iDevice. Here's how:
* The stream must be Mp3. It cannot be a flash, RealMedia or Windows media stream. Mp3 Streams usually are presented to your browser as either a .pls or an .M3U file. Real media stream files have an extension of .RAM and Windows Media streams have an extension of .ASX.
To figure out which type of stream your station has, right-click on the link for Play and do Save target As. The technique for doing this with different screen readers varies, for example, with some, you use your applications key. With JAWS, navigate the virtual cursor to your selected stream link and use the JAWS right mouse button key. Typically that is NumPad star, or caps lock held while pressing the number 9 on the number row of the keyboard.
If you've right-clicked on the link, a context menu appears with choices like Open, Open in New Tab and Open in new Window. You want the choice labeled Save Target As. Press enter on this Save target choice and the name of the file will appear for your confirmation. You are saving this file to your hard disk and can accept the default name or edit it if necessary.
Note that filename's extension. If it is a .PLS or a .M3U file, the iDevice will play it fine. If not, check the station's website to see if it offers other streams.
For example, my local NPR station offers flash and real media streams near the top of the page. But near the bottom there is an obscure link simply labeled "listening link for visually impaired users." That link is actually to a PLS file for the station's MP3 stream.
Other stations will have buttons labeled Listen In Windows Media Player or Listen In RealPlayer. You want the button labeled Listen in Winamp.
If you were to just left-click or press Enter on the listen link, the music will probably start playing. It may play in a separate window of your browser or may open a player like Winamp or Quicktime to stream the station. If that happens, simply close unwanted windows and try again. You need to end up with a PLS or M3u file saved to your hard disk.
Sometimes, you open the stream and get a choice of Saving to disk or opening. Saving to disk will give you the file as if you had right-clicked and chose "Save Target As.
Some web pages create the URL on the fly in order to hide it from users, because they want them listening only through their page. There are ways to get around this and uncover the URL anyway, but it is probably temporary and not worth the hassle. Just save a bookmark to that page directly on your iDevice.
But we're supposing here that you managed to save a .PLS or .M3U file to your hard disk.
Next, locate the .PLS or .M3u file and press F2 to rename it. You can also right-click and choose rename. If you were to just press Enter or left-click on a .M3u or .PLS file, it would open your media player and start streaming the station, just as if you'd selected its link within your browser.
So rename the file to anything you want but give it a .TXT extension. For example, here, I've renamed KQED.PLS to KQEDRadioStream.TXT.
Of course, when you did the right-click and Save Target As, you could have given it a .TXT extension then. But this way you get a chance to test it first. You can in fact collect all the .M3U, .PLS, .ASX,and .RAM files you download in to a single folder, and when you want to hear a corresponding station, simply click on that file without needing to load the station's page in to your browser.
Many of these little files will simply be called Play or Stream, as in play.pls or stream.m3u. It is a good idea to give them meaningful names right away as in WILL-AM.PLS so you'll know what station they stream.
To extract the URL, you can temporarily rename it with a .TXT extension as in Will-AM.PLS.TXT. There's no need to remove the original .PLS or .M3u extension; simply tack on the .TXT to get Windows Explorer to open it in notepad when you click on it.
Now that I have the example KQEDRADIOSTREAM.TXT, I can open it in Notepad. Here's the contents of the file:
The part of the file we are interested in is the URL, so select the http://kqed-ice.streamguys.org:80/kqedradio-bn-e1 portion of the text and copy it to the Windows clipboard.
Some playlists will have more than one URL. Usually the first URL is a commercial introduction -- for example with public radio it often gives the names of sponsors and asks you to subscribe. The last URL is usually the station's actual stream.
Ok, now you have the URL you want in your clipboard. Test it first, by closing all windows and returning to your desktop. Then Press Start, Run and paste in the string from your clipboard and press Enter. If you did everything correctly, your browser will load and your player will start streaming the station.
If your browser is set to not automatically open these kind of URLS, you might get a dialog box asking you to either save or open the file; simply select open and the stream should start playing.
Now that your clipboard contains a URL for a working Internet stream, send your iDevice an email with the contents of the clipboard. If you use the same account to read mail on your PC and your iDevice, simply send the mail to yourself. Your subject can be anything, but the body of the email should be the URL you pasted in from the clipboard.
A few paragraphs back, I showed an example of a URL in a .PLS file. a .M3u file is even simpler. You still need to rename it to a text file to easily open it with notepad, but its contents is simply the URL you need. For example, KQED, my local NPR station, has an M3u file which looks like this:
Do select All and copy, and you are all set to paste the URL in to your email.
M3U files can also contain a list of URLS. The last one is typically the actual radio station stream and earlier ones are often advertising. Sometimes with a Stream On Demand, all the URLS will be part of the program, but this is typically something that's prerecorded and will simply play until done; it's not a live stream.
Now it's time to open the email you sent yourself on the iDevice. Double-tap on the URL, and it should open in Safari and the station should begin to stream.
Once that happens, double-tap the Done button near the top of the screen, and you'll still be on the correct page. You can check the URL in the address bar. In the center nearer the bottom of the screen, double-tap the utilities button, and either type Add bookmark or Add to Home screen.
I systematically went through my favorite radio stations and added them all to my home screen using this method. Then, I moved all of them in to a folder which I named Radio Station Shortcuts.
A good way to find shortcuts on the web is to investigate a program you like. For example, I am a fan of NPR's Science Friday and Dick Estell's Radio Reader. Each of these have web pages that list many stations that run the show. They have direct listen links as well. I can right-click on those links, download the play.pls file, rename it to something meaningful, add a .txt extension, extract its URL, rename it back to .PLS, and email the URL to my iPod. I also email the show schedule to my iPOD. Often for me in Northern California, a station in New York is playing a program I could also hear in California, but in New York they are running it when I'm not at work and thus able to listen. I can even put a note in my iPod calendar to remind me when it's on.
If it's a music genre you love, try googling for a page dedicated to that genre to find Listen links. For example I found many great links on www.progrock.com. Today, that site seems devoted to a single station, but the links I grabbed to its competitors still work fine.
I now have a folder with favorite stations on my iDevice and a larger folder with many more favorites on my Windows PC.
Of course, many fine apps also give you access to stations, with much more flexibility. TuneIn Radio Pro for example lets you rewind, fast-forward and record. This extracting URL technique is good for stations not included in your favorite app's radio database, and it is also useful if your favorite app is out of date, or you simply want to quickly get to a favorite station without needing to load up an appp.
To save you time, here are a few of my favorites. You will notice lots of progressive rock, because it's my favorite genre and neither Mushroom FM, nor ACB Radio Interactive really plays enough of it for me.
Remember that links to streams frequently change even if the web page for the station does not, so don't be surprised if some of these do not work. The station prefers you go to their page, to read ads, and to learn about their programming, and possibly make a donation. Then they let you click on their Listen Live link, but often you can more quickly access the station through these direct URLS:
ACB Radio Interactive:
Sun Sounds Of Arizona:
http://sunsounds-low.streamguys.org" autoplay="true" /
Oral Moon (progressive rock)
KPCC Public Radio for Pasadena/Southern California
Kuer (University of Utah Public Radio)
Morow (best progressive rock of today and yesterday)
Progulus (yet more Progressive Rock!)
WKAR (Michigan public radio)
WFPL (public radio for Louisville, Kentucky)
TWIT Live (Leo LaPorte's Station)
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