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Linux Internet Radio Stations
Find Them
Install Them in Rhythmbox

Copyright (C) 2011 by Steve Litt, All rights reserved. Material provided as-is, use at your own risk. 



Steve Litt is the author of the Universal Troubleshooting Process Courseware,
which can be presented either by Steve or by your own trainers.

He is also the author of Troubleshooting Techniques of the Successful Technologist,
Rapid Learning: Secret Weapon of the Successful Technologist, and Samba Unleashed.


Contents

Introduction

I know of four ways, listed in order of ease, to find and install an Internet radio station in Rhythmbox:
  1. Via Shoutcast
  2. Via finders
  3. Via getting lucky with search engines
  4. Via the station's website
Major finders are:
Other finders include
The first two are special because they yield URLs that can be played directly by Totem. The others don't, or at least I don't know how to play them with Totem.

Totem

Totem is a bare bones video player that can play URLs. In Ubuntu 11.04 it's the default video player, although it might be called "Gnome-Movie Player".

If you know the call letters for the radio station, Radio Locator will give you the audio feed url, which is what you need to play the station in the Totem movie player. Once you can play it in Totem, you can get the right resource to put in RhythmBox.

Via Shoutcast

This is as easy as falling off a log. If you can find the Internet Station you want on Shoutcast, do the following:
  1. Right click the link for the station
  2. Select "Copy Link Location" or similar
  3. In RhythmBox, select "Create a New Radio Station" from the menu or a graphic button or whatever
  4. Note that a URL already comes up in both the title and the location. It should only be in the location -- the title  should be a title.
  5. Go back to Shoutcast, copy the text of the radio station name, and paste it into Rhythmbox's title.
  6. If the Genre isn't filled in, put in something reasonably accurate
  7. Click the close button on Rhythmbox's station properties box
  8. Test by doubleclicking the new station

Via a Finder Yielding an Audio Feed URL

This is a little harder but still pretty much straightforward. Offhand I know of two finders that actually tell you the audio feed URL:
After finding the station you want on one of these two, do the following:
  1. Left click the "Audio feed UR" (on radio-locator) or the "listen" link (on Windows Media). It should bring up a dialog box asking what you want to do with the URL
  2. Choose "Open with Movie Player" or something similar. Be sure you have totem installed.
  3. Click OK. Movie Player (Totem) comes up, and after several seconds to pre-load, the station should begin to play on Totem.
  4. Make sure on Totem that "Sidebar" is enabled. There's a button to enable it.
  5. Look on the sidebar. There will be one or more lines. One line will have a triangular "play" triangle.
  6. Right click the sidebar line with the play triangle, and choose "Copy Location" or similar. The location you just copied is what Rhythmbox needs.
  7. In RhythmBox, select "Create a New Radio Station" from the menu or a graphic button or whatever
  8. Note that a URL from totem already comes up in both the title and the location. It should only be in the location -- the title  should be a title.
  9. Go back to Radio-Locator or Windows Media, as appropriate, and copy the text of the radio station name, and paste it into Rhythmbox's title.
  10. If the Genre isn't filled in, put in something reasonably accurate
  11. Click the close button on Rhythmbox's station properties box
  12. Test by doubleclicking the new station

Via getting lucky with search engines

So you've tried Shoutcast and various finders, and still no joy with the Internet Radio Station of your choice. You might get lucky with a search engine. Here's one example. Let's say you want to put "Boomer Radio: Sweet Soul Music" into Rhythmbox. No luck with Shoutcast or the finders. So you could put the following into Google:

"Boomer Radio" "Sweet Soul Music" URL

One of the first things Google serves up for you is an entry from WindowsMedia.Com (I really didn't find this in WindowsMedia.Com the first time). Clicking on the Google link brings up a dialog box asking if you want to open it in Totem, you say yes, and Bang, you're listening to Boomer Radio: Sweet Soul Music. From there, you just do what you did in the finders section.

This was an unusually easy example. Most take more time. But if you've found an Internet Radio Station you really love, it's worth the time.

Via the station's website

This doesn't always work, it's different every time, and it takes a lot of trial and error. If there's *any* way you can find the station on Radio-Locator, find it there. Often you can Google the station in question and find its call letters. Once you have call letters you can almost always find it on Radio-Locator.

But some Internet radio stations don't have call letters. Sometimes you have no choice but to try to fish the audio feed URL out of the station's website. Maybe, just maybe you can do it. Here's how you do it for Freqence 3 from France -- an excellent pop station:
  1. Go to http://www.frequence3.fr/, which is the station's website.
  2. See in the button near the top a button labeled Ecoute? That's the play button. On this website, it just so happens you can right click that button and select "Open link in new tab". Do that and a new tab opens, playing music from the station.
  3. Right click on a blank part of the page (maximize the browser so there's a blank part), and choose "View Page Info". A browser dialog box will be presented.
  4. Somewhere on the browser dialog box you'll have a choice to view Media resources. Click that choice and you'll be presented with a long list of media, most of which are graphics.
  5. Go down the list til you see one of category "embed". Click it and you'll see the URL on a label. In this case the URL is http://streams.frequence3.net/player.asx.
  6. On the Linux command prompt, type totem and a space, and then paste that URL and press Enter. The same material will be playing on Totem.
  7. Using the ps command, find everything playing that material and kill it, then run the command again to make sure it's playing in Totem.
  8. On Totem's sidebar, right click and choose "Copy Location", and then using that copied location, install a new Rhythmbox radio station, same as with Shoutcast and the finders.

CAUTION: KLUDGE

This method is a huge kludge. For starts, it doesn't give you the real Audio Feed URL, it just gives you something that happens to work in Rhthmbox. And did I mention, it often doesn't work at all, it's different for every radio station website, and it takes lots of trial and error?

But if there's a station you really, really want, and you can't get it any other way, this is a possibility.


Why Rhythmbox?

Most Internet Radio Stations have websites on which you can listen to their audio stream. They have their player on their website, so you don't need to deal with all the software. They list the song currently being played. They generally have the best audio quality and a reasonable volume level.

Beware: Rebroadcasting

Many of the so-called audio feed URLs are rebroadcasts of the original radio station (Boomer Radio, for instance). These rebroadcasts often have a distressing volume level that needs adjustment. They often have a time delay relative to the original. Sometimes their audio quality isn't as good. Sometimes they don't transmit song title/author information.

If it sounds like I'm trying to convince you to use the radio station's website instead of Rhythmbox, you're partly right. When you listen at their website, you're hearing and seeing what they intended you to hear and see. If you hear a good song you can instantly identify it.

And there's one more thing: It takes money to run an Internet Radio Station -- money supplied by commercials. Just like yesteryear's AM and FM radio, Internet Radio Stations must supply you with commercials to survive. If listening to their websites presents you with a few additional audio and web page commercials, that's cheap payment to ensure they stay around.

So why Rhythmbox?

The name of this article is "Why Rhythmbox?", and so far I've presented only reasons why not to use Rhythmbox. Indeed, if you listened to one station all day, I'd recommend you go straight to the station's website and listen on a browser.

But if you're anything like me, you switch stations. That song you hate so much comes on and it's time to switch. To do so you need a list of radio stations. And you need to be able to doubleclick the new station and not have to mess around finding the website of the old one to turn it off. A list of radio station player links doesn't do it, because clicking a new link turns on a second song. Yes, I know, I know, you could whip up a shellscript or app that displays a list of Internet radio station player URLs, and when you click a new one it remembers the process ID of the playing one and kills it. Ugh!

And then there's the other disadvantage of the station's actual player URL -- some of these stations, in their infinite wisdom, present the reader with a 20 to 30 second advertisement immediately upon coming to their player, before presenting what's playing. I already said I have nothing against their advertising, but when you switch stations you want to hear what they're playing so maybe you will switch again. You don't want to wait 10 seconds for buffering and then a 30 second ad just to find out they're playing a disco remake by Michael Bolton and Barry Manilow.

If you switch stations a lot, Rhythmbox or something like it is your friend, even with all the disadvantages over the station's official website.


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