How to put BBC Radio Player recordings onto your iPod

The BBC Radio Player is great, but has its faults. Firstly, it’s in Realplayer format. I can’t stand Realplayer for historical reasons, and it has a habit of dropping the connection for me. Secondly, the recordings are only available for a week or so. Thirdly, you have to be sitting at your computer to listen to them. This is the most aggravating for me, as I like to be able to wander like I would with a normal radio. Ideally, you want to be able to play the shows from your iPod / other player. You could record it in realtime using Audacity, but that seems a little backward. I figured out a way, but I’d guess it’s against various BBC website terms of use. What you do with the following information is up to you…

  1. Download and install Streambox VCR 1.0 beta 3.1. You may have trouble finding a copy of this as Real nuked the original downloads a while back, but a bit of googling should find it.
  2. I’m going to use the Jonathan Ross show as an example, as he’s my favourite presenter. Open the BBC Radio Player and load up a show you want to download. View the source of the radio player window at this point (it may be within a frame). You’re looking for the embed src= line. In this case, it’s embed src=”/radio/aod/shows/rpms/radio2/ross.rpm”….
  3. Note the relative path to this .rpm file, then open it in a new browser window, adding http://www.bbc.co.uk at the beginning. So I open http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/aod/shows/rpms/radio2/ross.rpm. Download this .rpm file, then open it in Notepad.
  4. You’ll see a path beginning with rtsp:// and ending with a .ra file. Copy this.
  5. Next, run Streambox VCR. I use “vcr_31turbo.exe” but I don’t really know what the difference is. Hit the second button on the toolbar – it’s a globe with a + next to it, and the ‘New Item’ window will appear. If you copied the rstp:// location it’ll appear automatically in the ‘location’ box. Select an appropriate download location and hit ok. The .ra file will then be downloaded. In Mr Ross’ case, it’s about 40mb.
  6. Once this has downloaded, run the ‘StreamboxRipper’ program that came with StreamboxVCR. I think you need Realplayer installed for it to work. Click ‘Load’ and select your .ra file, then hit ‘Convert’. The options window will appear, and you can select to copy to MP3 / wav, and whether to use an equalizer etc. I tend to turn off the equalizer option and export it as a wav, then use LAME to encode the MP3, but it’s really up to you. Hit ok when you’re done. If you have any .dll issues, be sure to read the text file in the StreamboxRipper folder.
  7. Once you have an MP3, drag and drop it into iTunes, change the ID3 tags to something appropriate, and you’re done. If anybody knows a way to make the file bookmarkable without marking it as ‘audiobook’, please let me know.

Hopefully somebody will find this useful…