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Download Radio programmes from BBC iPlayer as MP3’s

Note: That this article is now deprecated. Please see the replacement article on get_iplayer and continue to comment at that new page.

Thanks,
Woody 4th July 2013

If, like me, you listen to a lot of BBC radio – and are frustrated that unlike iPlayer videos – which you can download for viewing later (on a PC, iPod, iPhone, Sony Walkman, Zune etc) there is no way to download BBC radio programmes from iPlayer. All you can do is listen to them within the iPlayer interface – but if you want to save them to a portable device for listening to later on the tube – forget it!

image There are some very complex kludges that you might try – but nothing as elegant as Radio Downloader by a guy called Matt Robinson.

This is an absolutely superb application which, iPlayer like, displays all possible Radio programmes that are available at iPlayer – by genre, alphabetic listing etc. Simply click the one you want, hit “Download” and Radio Downloader downloads the programme as an MP3 – ready for you to write to your favourite portable media device.

This one is such an incredible gem – and if you have found this article because you have been searching for a solution to the iPlayer radio problem – you will really, really appreciate it. So please, show your appreciation to Matt Robinson by donating him a couple of quid.

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75 thoughts on “Download Radio programmes from BBC iPlayer as MP3’s”

    1. Rebecca,
      Once downloaded (presuming the download finishes) the resulting MP3 can be found in MyDocuments\Downloaded Radio (Windows 7) or something like C:\Users\yourusername\Downloaded Radio on Windows XP.

      Best wishes,
      Woody.

  1. Absolutely brilliant bit of software. I’ve been looking for something like this for ages (now that my new car doesn’t have an audio tape player!). Everything else I’ve found either doesn’t work, or is so techie that you need to be a Stephen Hawking or a Brian Cox to use it. This one couldn’t be easier to install and operate; I especially like the ability to pre-program to download a complete series – like podcasts, only for the entire iplayer output.

  2. Hi Woody

    Great tip this – it fills a hole in my BBC radio listening experience (I don’t often find myself within range of a BBC transmitter these days).

    Many thanks for publicising it and keep up the good work!

    Chris

    PS I made a small donation to Matt but couldn’t find any contact details to thank him personally – perhaps you could pass on my appreciation to him if you’re in contact

    1. Same here…kind of. the download is successful but my computer won’t run the program. I’m using a MacBook…is this a PC only program?

      Eddy

  3. What a great little programme. It does what even Stream Transport and Orbit could not manage and brings my Walkman alive with fresh english voices all over the world. Thank you sire.

  4. What a great programme. I’m losing a bit of my sight :-( and so I find reading harder, so this is just a great programme. Thank you so much for making it better known. I wish I were clever enough to write such a programme! Mnay thanks!

  5. I FUCKING LOVE YOU!
    Do you know how much dicking about I’ve done trying to download/record my favourite shows.
    First try and this thing DL’s my show perfectly.

    Thanks for the link and props to the Dev.

  6. Hi, I would like to know, if I did not find the BBC program on the appl. How can I download the program? Thanks
    (The BBC program I would like to download was broadcasted ob Manchester BBC, could that be why?)

  7. Outstanding.

    Helps ‘old’ people like me who constantly forget to set PVR’s for their favourite radio comedies.

    Thank you very much.

  8. Having problems using Radio Downloader Today, every thing I try to download comes back with an error message.
    Then when I try to go onto help pages or report a bug I just get this message:-
    The ‘magic_quotes_gpc’ php setting must be set to ‘Off’ for this script to function correctly.
    Never had a problem before, have been using radio downloader, for downloading bbc programmes mainly, daily for over a year.
    Anybody know if the site has a problem or if I’m doing something wrong.
    Or if there is an alternate way of contacting Matt to report this problem.
    Look forward to your replys.

      1. Try and stay calm while you suffer withdrawal :-). I have pinged an email to Matt (the developer) to explain. It looks like RadioDownloader is checking nerdoftheherd.com on startup for updates – which is failing because Matt’s site seems to currently have a PHP error.

        I’ll ping back here as soon as I hear from Matt.

        Best wishes,
        Woody.

      2. Site is now fixed – my web hosts had replaced my php.ini as part of the upgrade to php 5.3 (sigh).

        Not related to the download issues though (the check for updates happens in the background and doesn’t affect other parts of the app), but downloads seem to be okay for me now – don’t know if the BBC’s CDN was / is experiencing issues?

  9. Thanks Guys,
    All seems to be back to normal, stop the old man panicking, he can now download something to entertain him when he takes me for a walk !

    1. Dave,
      Radio Downloader is a supperb application in that it downloads the flash stream from the iPlayer web page and then converts it into an MP3 on your PC. So what you listen to, is just an MP3.

      It is not possible to assert Digital Rights Management (DRM) on an MP3 (like the BBC iPlayer does on TV programmes that you download within iPlayer) so the programmes that you download with Radio Downloader never expire.

      Hope that helps,
      Woody.

  10. Thank you so much! I could´nt believe how well it works , how easy it is to manage. Really, best thing I´ve found in a very long time

  11. What a great piece of software design: Clear interface and brilliantly intuitive. Been using Replay Music for years and been happy, but now – I’m ecstatic! Instant donation. Can’t recommend highly enough.

    1. Uh, oh! I just double checked it this evening – and it is all running fine for me in the UK. You appear to be north of Seattle – but I don’t see any reason for the BBC to block access from US folk. However, if you look on Matt’s (the author) page, you will see that he has an article stating that Norton is incorrectly blocking RadioDownloader at the moment.

      Matt recommends (as do I) junking Norton/Symantec anti-virus for the free Microsoft Security Essentials here: http://www.microsoft.com/security/pc-security/mse.aspx. That reminds me – I must do a new blog entry on Microsoft Security Essentials – as it is the best of the free AV programmes. Intrigued? I’ll explain why – when I finally get round to writing that blog entry :-).

      Woody.

  12. Hi – specifically downloaded this to get ‘Afternoon Drama’ – The Trenches Trip from Wednesday 31st October but search as I might I cannot find it in the listings even though I have it in front of me on iPlayer – can you help please? Many thanks.

  13. There are three things I don’t like about it:

    1. It starts up automatically with Windows, and you can’t change that (Windows won’t let you). Windows is slow to boot already, and this slows it up more – and in any case Radio Downloader isn’t the sort of program you need running all the time. All that the author needed to do was to provide a shortcut on the desktop. Starting it up with Windows, when that decision is irreversible, is officious.

    2. Radio Downloader doesn’t tell you where your MP3 downloads are stored. If (like me) you want to edit them, this is a nuisance, but in any case I want to choose where to put my files. In the software that I write myself I sometimes use fixed locations because it can be difficult to make them variable, but I always tell the user what those locations are, and say that they’re fixed.

    3. The routines for sorting and deleting your downloads are a waste of time – the downloads are ordinary Windows files, so you can manage them with Windows Explorer. Why duplicate those routines?

    The things I did like about it were its efficient searching of the BBC archives, and the fact that it did deliver MP3 files (like it said on the tin). However, the way it runs on the user’s computer is too micro-managed for my taste, so I’m not minded to send Matt any dosh just yet.

    1. Derek,
      This is really good feedback – much appreciated and something I am sure Matt can consider for a future upgrade. I think that the challenge is, that RadioDownloader has been such a success (over 12500 folk have gone to download it from this blog alone) that Matt has been concentrating on the more tricky aspects, namely the downloading and conversion to MP3 (capabilities that you won’t find anywhere else).

      However, there are workarounds to the points you make:

      1. You can stop this starting up with Windows and Windows does provide a really easy interface with which to do so. If you are running Windows 8, simply fire up the Task Manager (CTRL – SHIFT – ESC) and hit the Startup tab. From there, you can see that you can enable or disable startup apps at will. For Windows 7 and other versions of Windows, there are ways to change what applications start at boot – but the interface can be tricky to master so, head over to Microsoft and download the autoruns tool – which will give you a simple check box approach to turning on and off stuff at startup: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963902

      2. By default, Radiodownloader saves downloaded MP3’s here: C:\Users\$Username\Documents\Downloaded Radio – but you can easily change that by going into Main Options and changing the download location.

      3. I confess that I struggle with your third comment – as on the one hand, the substance of your earlier complaints are that RadioDownLoader simplifies things to improve the experience for less technically competent users and now you seem to be indicating that they should now get down and dirty and delete files by hand – rather than hitting a button that simply says “Clean Up”. I know what I would prefer :-)

      Best wishes,
      Woody.

  14. Been using this app for a few weeks and really impressed.

    On a related issue, have you come across any software that will enable me to look for older programmes that are no longer available on iPlayer? I understand that these programmes are still held on the BBC’s servers as .ram files.

  15. Great bit of kit,which I had found this last year. I was on a local radio station and wanted to link my peace to my website,what I dont want is the whole 2-1/2 hours of the show.

    How or can I,just record or save a certain bit?

    Thanks again

    Mike

    1. I also loved the RD and I’m pretty sad, it does not do its magic any longer. The BBC however is only trying to protect its property and they have every right to do so. This lasted much longer than I expected.
      There always is the possibility to plug a recording device to any receiver (DVB even provides extreme quality) and record the shows right when they are broadcast. If you failed to do so, you can still plug that same device to your soundcard and use the iPlayer to record directly from that – DRM or not. Doing that, you can listen to the program as long and as often as you wish.
      For the time being, the “get-iplayer” works brilliantly. After only 30 minutes, I am back on track as if nothing happened. I set the program up on my Raspberry Pi and it now downloads the upcoming shows I’d like to listen to.
      Let’s see how long this keeps working.
      Google for “A beginners guide to get_iplayer” and follow the instructions for your OS. It is not that hard to set it up properly.

  16. Me as well i download bbc programs put them on a disc and listen to them when we are traverling in France & Spain

    1. I’m at a total loss also; I used to download Jeremy Vine, Steve Wright, Simon Mayo, and The Now Show all for listening to whilst working away from home. Have you or anyone else come across a suitable alternative to this brilliant piece of software?

      1. I’m really miffed at the attitude of the BBC. There’s clearly a service here that we (their licence fee paying customers!) want. They recognise it, but they can’t actually provide it themselves until next year, but still they won’t let brilliant people like Matt help us out. Toads! The biggest irony is, many of the programmes I’ve been downloading are classic comedy series that have been “rediscovered” – ie they were recorded off air by enthusiasts years ago, despite all the BBC’s attempts at the time to prohibit such illegal recording, and the BBC are now only too grateful they did because they’ve since lost/wiped their own tapes!
        Anyway, the solution I’m experimenting with is just to stream the programmes when I’m online and working, and just record them silently to listen to later. It’s clunky and messy, but it sort of works.
        I’d love to hear if anyone’s got any better solutions.

  17. Is there any other program similar to Radio Downloader or any that will dl from iplayer?

    The only one I know that has a lot of programmes but by no means all of them is radioarchive.cc

  18. Not only are the BBC stopping us using this great resource, they will be adding DRM to allo of the programs and making it only accessible via the iplayer and for max of 30 days.

    Read the pdf’s on the link provided on nerdoftheherd and see the laughable reasons for doing this. They believe it will increase listeners and particuarly young listeners.

  19. Hi guys – Like you I’ve come to depend on this fantastic program and like you I’m guttted it’s gone.

    I’ll revert to using Applian Technologies “Replay Music” program. It’s not perfect and its a long way from the set-up-and-forget effortlessness we’ve all enjoyed, but it works and until something better comes along, it’ll have to do.

  20. This is really annoying, like many others I liked to download programmes to listen to in the car or on walks. This action means that I will mow miss a lot of BBC content. I would point out that those of us that have the radiodownloader can still use it for podcasts, including at the moment BBC podcasts.

    I hope that someone soon comes up with a work around so that we can continue to save streamed content without any DRM.

    1. All,
      First of all, a really big thanks to all of you for both pointing out that Matt Robinson appears to have had a “cease and Desist” order from the BBC, which has cut off our beloved Radio Downloader.

      Stay cool though, because I believe I have a solution, which I have tested tonight. It will allow us to download and store locally, any programme from the BBC iPlayer website – and that includes Radio Programmes. Tonight, I successfully downloaded “I’m sorry I haven’t a clue”. It is a Windows (and Linux) app but it is sort of not that intuitive – so please give me a bit of space to capture some illustrative screenshots and to knock up a blog post.

      Watch this space …..

      Woody.

  21. Just to make clear, there is a more limited range of BBC radio programmes available as podcasts that you can download with Radio Downloader by using the RSS feed.
    So at least I can still get Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews.

    1. Yep, that’s the article I am currently working on, but with screen shots so you can use the GUI (which is easier) rather than command line. Of course, the BBC will probably cotton on at some point and issue a take-down notice, but for “Pioneers” it is “Get_IPlayer” you need to search for.

      Woody.

  22. I have been devastated to discover that the BBC has forced Radio Downloader to close down. I have this response fro the BBC to a complaint.

    Dear Mr Aitken

    Thanks for contacting us regarding the NerdOfTheHerd Radio Downloader.

    Your concerns were raised with BBC Future Media and they’ve asked us to forward their response to you:

    “The BBC has clear terms of use (www.bbc.co.uk/terms) which govern the use of BBC content and services online and which also authorise their further distribution in some circumstances, e.g. BBC podcasts, RSS, authorised iPlayer applications. TheNerdOfTheHerd Radio Downloader service, which enables and encourages listeners to download BBC radio programmes without DRM-protection is a breach of the BBC Terms of Use and amounts to copyright infringement. We have therefore asked for this service to be removed.

    Separately, the BBC Trust recently approved proposals from the BBC Executive to enable listeners to download their favourite BBC radio programmes via BBC iPlayer Radio and keep to listen to for up to 30 days. The BBC plans to launch this service in 2014.

    BBC Future Media”

    We’d also like to assure you that we’ve registered your complaint on our Audience Log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that’s made available to all BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

    The Audience Logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions on future BBC programmes and content.

    Once again, thank you for contacting us.

    Kind Regards

    BBC Complaints

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