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How to download iPlayer radio shows on Vista

A friend’s son was on Radio 3 recently, and she asked if I knew how to download from the iPlayer. I didn’t, but it turned out to be easier than I thought:

  1. Download and install mplayer for Windows
  2. While this is happening, go to www.iplayerconverter.co.uk and look up the relevant show
  3. Click the show link to download a .ram file
  4. Open the .ram file in Notepad, and you’ll get a link beginning with rtsp:// – copy everything up to the .ra
  5. Once mplayer is installed, open a command window in the mplayer directory
  6. Enter:

    mplayer -cache 2048 -bandwidth 9999999 “rtsp://blah.bbc.net.uk:554/something/something.ra” -vc null -vo null -ao pcm:fast:waveheader:file=monkeys.wav

    Replacing monkeys.wav with whatever filename you like, and the rstp link with the previously copied link from the .ram file.

  7. This will – surprisingly quickly – download the show and convert it to a .wav.
  8. I’m on Vista, and the Program Files(x86) directory is protected from new files, so I found monkeys.wav in Users\me\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files(x86)\MPlayer for Windows\ – your mileage may vary.
  9. Convert the wav to an mp3 with Lame, and you’re done.

I can’t take credit for much – most of this was lifted directly from a Linux guide, and turned out to be directly applicable.

Obviously BBC radio is copyright the BBC, and I don’t endorse stealing content, but I don’t have any problem with archiving family appearances, or downloading a show to listen to later on your iPod.

11 comments

  1. It's also worth checking if the show's available as a podcast.

    I say this because the other day I got a sketch on Newsjack and wondered if I could record it from iPlayer before I remembered I was already subscribed to the podcast. Not a good sign. (I mean, Newsjack? Really?)

  2. Very useful instructions, thanks :)

  3. I tried this but I don’t know how to “open a command window in the mplayer directory”

  4. When installing mplayer, make a note of the installation directory. I can’t remember it exactly, but it’ll be something like c:\Program Files\mplayer or c:\Program Files\mplayerclassic.

    Click the Start button, then if you’re on Vista / Win7 type ‘cmd’ into the search box and hit enter – on XP click ‘Run’ and do the same. You’ll get a black command window with a flashing prompt. Type:

    cd\[the directory path minus the initial c:\]

    so, for example:

    cd\Program Files\mplayer

    and hit enter. The prompt will change to reflect your new location, and you can continue with step 6 above.

  5. Thanks for this, I recently got an Email read out on 6 Music and had to cut it out. The BBC servers are super-fast!

  6. Where is the file saved once it is downloaded? I cant find it…..

  7. It’s probably somewhere in your Users\[Username]\AppData directory. Mine was in AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files(x86)\MPlayer for Windows\.

  8. Hi,

    Do you know of a way to download now that the BBC have moved away from realaudio to wma?

    • BBC Radio Ripper works directly even with WMA streams. Having said that it now only works in real time – or longer since the WMA stream comes down in real time then there is a convert to mp3 overhead.

  9. I haven’t investigated it since the update, sorry. If I do I’ll update the post.

  10. I know another streaming downloader, it is Hidownload (http://www.hidownload.com)
    Hidownload can work as good as this one in downloading BBC iplayer radio I think.
    But it’s method of application is a little different from you recommended.

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