Over the last couple of days, I learned how to edit web streams to ds106radio, and how to track down the right URLs for those streams.
A little background: for several weeks I have been programming in the daily playlists, a little bit at a time. I know others are doing this also. It is a task that is needed to minimize the possibility of dead air. Sometimes I take the
lazy easy way out and program in a web stream instead of individual songs. Eight hours done with one easy click and drag! But, I hadn’t been checking to see if the streams really worked.
Tuesday, I think it was, I noticed a tweet or two concerning the ds106radio feed seemed to have something wrong with it. I looked, and sure enough it was meant to be playing a stream from WITH radio, but was dead air. I fumbled around and learned that if I delete the stream from the program, I can’t just slide new items into the empty space. The stream had two more hours left, and that was going to be dead air. But, I discovere that I could create a new stream specifically for that empty time frame, so filled in with WFMU. Once the two hours expired, normal programming resumed.
Well, there was an additional confusion factor: the Airtime program we use for managing ds106radio had updated to a new version. A few other folks, like Alan Levine, Grant Potter, and @TheFocusZone were busy fixing links for such things as the listen buttons. Gotta have working listen buttons, or what’s a radio for?
OK, next step for me. When I had the chance I checked the streams for the various radio stations we have in the ds106radio library. Within Airtime, there is the capability to preview and listen to any of the streams or files in the library. It turned out that more of them didn’t play. As I investigated, I found that the stations themselves had changed their sources, so it seemed all I would have to do is update the URLs of the streams. But it is not that easy.
Most of the streams that we use are listed on the radio stations’ pages with file extensions of .m3u or .pls. These are actually text files that are used by media player programs to then open up the actual stream. I needed the actual stream URL. I had to download the files and open them in Notepad, and then extract the actual stream URL. Sometimes this worked, sometimes it didn’t.
End result: All but two of the streams already programmed now work. One of the two that didn’t work, the station’s webpage stated that they had a bad stream server (and didn’t indicate it was being taken care of). The other one was not a radio station, but an individual streaming old time radio. Unfortunately, the URL of his stream did not function in ds106radio. So, I deleted those two streams from the library to avoid scheduling them and ending up with dead air again.
In the process, I discovered quite a few radio streaming sources that I will benefit from myself. For example, we have five different streams from SOMA FM. They actually provide many more, playing various genres. Maybe I’ll program in all of them (someday) for more choices.
So much to listen to, so little time.