Acquiring Internet Streams

This document describes how to find and update Internet streaming URLs in the RadioTime database. It assumes you understand basic radio station concepts.

Goals

RadioTime attempts to collect all live stream options available for a radio station:

  1. The desktop player  — to retain the broadcasters branding and ads
  2. Embedded streams — to work with connected products
    1. For each type (MP3, Windows Media, Real, AAC)
    2. For each speed

Finding Streams

Normally, station Web sites promote the stream as part of the main navigation. Look for links like “Listen Now,” “Live Stream,” or images like a speaker. You can also use the URL Snooper software to identify stream URLs. This is especially useful when a page is not written in English.

Step A – Launch Link

Click on the link provided. If the link fails, continue to Step C – Find Stream. If the stream is only available through a special player (e.g. AdSertion, Live365, Chaincast or Shoutcast), install the player as prompted.

Step B – Confirm Audio

Listen to the stream for 10-30 seconds to confirm that it is playing the correct station:

  1. If you hear a “stream change” message, continue to Step C – Find Stream.
  2. If you hear a “all streams busy” message, continue to Step D – Grab Link.
  3. If the you hear a station, confirm that:
    • the correct station is displayed in player.
    • the correct station name and format is heard.

Step C – Find Stream Audio

Go to the station Web page link provided, and:

  1. Follow the “Listen Now” links until you find one to play the stream.
  2. Click the link to launch the stream.

Step D – Grab Links

If you don’t see a standard Windows Media or Real player, you can grab the URL that launches the Flash or HTML player. (Common streaming URL formats include mms: and rtsp:, or end with .pls.) Check the link alone to see if it works in your browser.

If so, one of the following options will usually work:

  1. Check the shortcut under listen live. If it is a raw link, copy it.
  2. Check properties from the launched Windows Media or Real player.
    • Copy the link from the player’s properties. If it a good URL is displayed, copy it.
    • If a player is embedded in a Web page, you can often right-click the Windows Media or Real bar inside the player and click properties to see and copy the underlying URL.
    • Using URL Snooper, start the streaming player and look for a URL in the URL Snooper link area. If a good URL displayed, copy it.
    • View the HTML source to see how the URL is created. This requires a technical background.

If the above options don’t work, make a comment and our experts will investigate.

Step E – Update Entry

Update RadioTime by using the edit link on RadioTime.com page or the “Tell us to fix it” link. If you have permissions, you can use Update Streams in RadioMill directly.

Same Stream, Different Wrapper

Often stations will “wrap” the same MP3 stream with a different playlist so that it works in Windows Media Player, Real Player or Quicktime. When you recognize these, just add the core stream. RadioTime will automatically wrap it to work with different software.

Adding multiple copies of the same stream means the “backup streams” are not useful, and the use history for a single stream gets diluted.

When to Keep Different Wrappers

  • If you don’t know better, add all the streams listed and an expert will fix them later.
  • If you know that .asx, .ram, and .m3u each wrap the same underlying mp3 streams, only add the playlist.
  • If the playlist includes more than one stream, use the playlist.
  • Include individual streams for different speeds.
  • Include different individual streams for different publishing points.
  • If the history of a plain stream is unreliable, just use one with the .pls wrapper.
  • If the stream type uses a dynamic wrapper. This includes streams for BBC, GMG Radio, SurferNetwork, StreamTheWorld, GarnierStreamingMedia/CrossMediaVentures, MainstreamNetwork and ChristianNetCast
  • For Live365, use this style: http://www.live365.com/play/whkp

Overview Flowchart

Overview Flowchart

Overview Flowchart

Stream Checking and Maintenance

A RadioTime process will automatically check streams from use by users or centralized testing when needed. The centralized testing can assign stream type and speed to replace estimates entered by administrators. Streams that are failing create tasks for administrators to check to update with a replacement stream or to remove.