Category Archives: WiFi Radio

Guest Post: Methods for discovering and recording online radio programming for later listening

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Bill (WD9EQD), who shares the following guest post:


Time Shifting Radio Programs for Later Listening

by Bill (WD9EQD)

There are quite a few programs on shortwave that I enjoy listening to for the actual program content.  If I am lucky, I will receive a strong enough signal to really enjoy the experience.  But all too often, I either can’t directly receive the program or conditions are such that listening is just not enjoyable.  What I was looking for was good quality sound that I could listen to on my schedule.

I could always just go to the station website and listen to the live stream of the program.  But what if there are two programs on different stations at the same time?  I would have to choose which one to listen to.  What I needed was a way to listen to the program on my schedule.

This write-up will be presenting several ways this can be accomplished.

Is the Program Streamed?

In many cases, it is possible to go to the program’s website and then listen to the latest program or even an archive of past programs at your convenience.  Some examples are:

Hobart Radio International http://www.hriradio.org/

Radio Emma Toc https://www.emmatoc.org/worldserviceindex

VORW International https://soundcloud.com/vorw

AWR Wavescan http://eu.awr.org/en/listen/program/143

Blues Radio International: http://www.bluesradiointernational.net/

This is a Music Show https://thisisamusicshow.com/

Radio Northern Europe International: https://www.mixcloud.com/RadioNorthernEurope/

Alt Universe Top 40: https://www.altuniversetop40.com/links

International Radio Report https://www.ckut.ca/en/content/international-radio-report

World of Radio http://worldofradio.com/

The Shortwave Report http://www.outfarpress.com/shortwave.shtml

Lost Discs Radio Show https://www.lostdiscsradio.com/

Grits Radio Show https://archive.org/details/gritsradioshow2020

Le Show with Harry Shearer http://harryshearer.com/le-show/

Can the Program Be Downloaded?

All HRI programs are available on their Archive.org page.

Quite often, the program’s web site will also let you download the program for listening at a later date.  Some examples are:

Hobart Radio International has an Internet Archive page where you can listen to and download their previous programs: https://archive.org/details/@hobart_radio_international

Radio Emma Toc has a button for “broadcast & internet relay services wishing to air our programme”.

But anyone can download the program.

VORW International: https://soundcloud.com/vorw

(Note:  You will have to sign into Soundcloud to be able to download the files)

AWR Wavescan: http://eu.awr.org/en/listen/program/143

Your Weekend Show: https://open.spotify.com/show/2RywtSHWHEvYGjqsK6EYuG

International Radio Report https://www.ckut.ca/en/content/international-radio-report

World of Radio http://worldofradio.com/

The Shortwave Report http://www.outfarpress.com/shortwave.shtml

Lost Discs Radio Show https://www.lostdiscsradio.com/

Grits Radio Show https://archive.org/details/gritsradioshow2020

Le Show with Harry Shearer http://harryshearer.com/le-show/

WBCQ has a link to an Archive of some of their programs.  Just click on the Archive link and you will go to Internet Archive where there are a lot of programs that can be streamed or downloaded.  The programs include:

  • Adventures in Pop Music
  • Analog Telephone Systems Show
  • B Movie Bob
  • Cows in Space
  • Godless Irena 1
  • Grits Radio Show
  • Lost Discs Radio Show
  • Radio Timtron Worldwide
  • Texas Radio Shortwave
  • The Lumpy Gravy Show
  • Zombies in your Brain
  • Vinyl Treasures
  • Plus many, many other programs…

Does the Program Have a Podcast?

Check to see if the program has a podcast.  Many programs do and this makes it easy to always have the latest program updated into my favorite podcast program.

AWR Wavescan is available on a number of podcasting platforms

Some programs that have podcasts:

  • Hobart Radio International
  • AWR Wavescan
  • Blues Radio International:
  • Your Weekend Show
  • International Radio Report
  • World of Radio
  • The Shortwave Report
  • The Lost Discs Radio Show
  • Le Show with Harry Shearer

Directly Record the Stream While It Is Being Broadcast

This method is a little more difficult and requires some setup. The method is to record the program directly from the internet stream of the station as it is broadcasting the program.  Once set up, the procedure is completely automatic and will continue to capture the program until it is disabled in the scheduler.

Let’s walk through a typical program that we want to record.  I like Alan Gray’s “Last Radio Playing” program on WWCR.  It is broadcast weekly on Wednesday at 6pm Central Time on 6115.  While I can receive the program over the air, it’s not very good reception, so I usually just stream it off the internet.

What I want to do is to set up an automatic computer program that will connect to the stream on Wednesday night, record the stream for one hour and then disconnect.  I use the program StreamRipper which can run on either Linux or Windows.

http://streamripper.sourceforge.net/

Since I have a spare Raspberry Pi 4 computer, I chose to use the Linux version.  The following description is based on Linux.  A similar method I’m sure could be done with the Windows version.

Fortunately, StreamRipper is in the current software repository for the Raspberry PI and I could just install it with having to do a compile.  I’m sure other Linux distributions probably also have it in their repository.  It was a simple matter to install it.  In Linux, Streamripper is run from the command line in a terminal window.

A typical command line for SteamRipper is:

streamripper station_URL_stream –a “filename” –A –d directory_path -l seconds

where

station_URL_stream is the http address of the audio stream.  Determining this can sometimes be challenging and some methods were recently discussed in a SWLing Post:

https://swling.com/blog/2021/04/robs-tips-for-uncovering-radio-station-stream-urls/

–a says to record the audio as a single file and not try to break it up into individual songs.

“filename” the filename of the resultant mp3 file goes here in quotes

-A again says to create a single file.

-d tells it the directory path to store the mp3 file.  Place the full directory path after the –d

-l specifies how long to record.  Enter the number of seconds after –l.

(note: this is lower case letter l)

For Last Radio Playing, the command line is:

streamripper http://67.225.254.16:3763 –a “Last Radio Playing” –A –d /home/pi/RIP/wwcr –l 3600

when executed, this would connect to the URL stream, record for 3600 seconds (60 minutes) and then disconnect from the stream  A file called “Last Radio Playing.mp3” would be in the wwcr1 directory.

Save this command line to a shell file, maybe wwcr.sh.  Then make this shell file executable.

Last is to enter a crontab entry to schedule the shell file wwcw.sh to be run every Wednesday at 6pm ct.

At the command line, enter crontab –e to edit the cron table.

Add the following line at the end:

0  19  *  *  3  /home/pi/wwcr.sh

then exit and save the crontab file.

This line says to execute wwcr.sh every Wednesday at 1900 (my computer  is on eastern time).

There are many ways to enhance the shell script.  For example, I have added the date to the mp3 file name.  My wwcr1.sh shell script is:

NOW=$(date +”%Y-%m%d”)

# WWCR1 Last Radio Playing

# Wednesday 7-8pm et

streamripper http://67.225.254.16:3763 -a “$NOW Last Radio Playing” -A -u FreeAmp/2.X -d /media/pi/RIP/wwcr1 -l 3600

This will create a MP3 file with the date in the file name.  For example

2021-0505 Last Radio Playing.mp3

Note: I named the file wwcr1.sh to denote that WWCR transmitter 1 was being streamed. Each of the WWCR transmitters have different stream URL.

Most radio streams work fine with  the default user agent but WWCR required a different user agent which is why the –u FreeAmp/2.X is added.  Normally, –u useragent is not required.  The default works fine.

For each program, just create a similar shell file and add it to the cron scheduler.

Streamripper is very powerful and has many options.  One option is for it to attempt to divide the stream up into individual files – one for each song.  Sometimes this works quite well – it all depends on the metadata that the station is sending over the stream.  I usually just go for a single file for the entire show.  Some stations are a little sloppy on whether the program starts on time – sometimes they start a minute early and sometimes run a minute over.  The solution is to increase the recording time to two minutes longer and then specify in the crontab file that the show starts a minute early.  It’s easy to adjust to whatever condition might be occurring.

Recording the BBC

I have found that the BBC makes it more difficult to use this procedure.   For one thing, they have just changed all their stream URL’s.  And they have decided NOT to make them public. When they did this some of the internet radios broke since they still had the old URL’s.  Of course it didn’t take long for someone to discover and post the new stream URL’s:

https://gist.github.com/bpsib/67089b959e4fa898af69fea59ad74bc3#file-bbc-radio-m3u

I have tested the Radio 4 Extra stream and it does seem to work.  For how long is anyone’s guess.

I found that while streamripper did seem to work on BBC, all the mp3 files came out garbled.  So the method above doesn’t seem to work with the BBC.

I went back to the drawing board (many hours on Google) and discovered another way to create a shell script that can be scheduled to record a stream.  This involves using the programs mplayer and timelimit.

First step is to install the programs mplayer and timelimit to the Linux system.  mplayer is a simple command line audio and video player.  timelimit is a program that will execute another program for a specific length of time.

First I created a shell script bbc30.sh:

#!/bin/bash

NOW=$(date +”%Y-%m%d-%H%M”)

# BBC Extra 4 – 30 minute program

timelimit -t1800 mplayer http://stream.live.vc.bbcmedia.co.uk/bbc_radio_four_extra -dumpstream -dumpfile /media/pi/RIP/$NOW-bbc.mp3

Note: The bold line above is all on one line in the shell file.

This script will execute the timelimit command.  The timelimit command will then execute the mplayer command for 1800 seconds (30 minutes).

The mplayer command then connects to the http stream; the stream instead of playing out loud is dumped to the dumpfile /media/pi/RIP/$NOW-bbc.mp3

The crontab entry becomes:

30  23  11  5  *  /home/pi/bbc30.sh

In this case, the program on May 11 at 2330 will be recorded.

Summary

In conclusion, Podcasts are the easiest way to get the programs.  But automatically recording directly from the station stream is really not that much harder to do.  Just be careful.  It’s very easy to accumulate much more audio than you can ever listen to in this lifetime.

One final note.  The use of a Raspberry Pi makes this a very easy and convenient method.  I run the pi totally headless.  No keyboard, mouse or monitor.  It just sits on a shelf out of the way and does it thing.  I either log in using VNC when I want the graphical desktop, Putty for the command line, or WinSCP for transferring files. The Pi stays out of the way and I don’t end up with another computer system cluttering up my desktop.

Besides recording several shortwave programs, I use Streamripper to record many FM programs from all around the United States.  It’s great for recording that program that is on in the early morning hours.

73

Bill WD9EQD

Smithville, NJ


Thank you for sharing this with the SWLing Post community, Bill! This weekend, I’m going to put one of my RPi 3 units into headless service recording a few of my favorite programs that aren’t available after the live broadcast. Many thanks for the detailed command line tutorial!

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Rob’s tips for uncovering radio station stream URLs

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rob Gray, who shares the following tips:


Extracting Audio Stream Information from Reciva

Here is a proposed procedure for extracting audio streams from Reciva, while the website still exists.

[Please note that in these examples, the Brave web browser is being used in a Windows environment. The procedure is nearly identical for Chrome. Other web browsers and operating systems may vary slightly.]

Image 1 (Click to enlarge)

After logging in and searching for your desired station(s) (as shown in Image 1 above using NPR as an example search), click the speaker icon of the station of interest (see Image 2 below). 

That brings up another browser window (center-right window in Image 3 below).  Pressing “F12” brings up another window of DevTools (Developer Tools).

Under “DevTools”, select “Console” (you may find it under the >>) as shown in the image above.  The URL is shown in the “Console” window (image 04), and should be http://xxxxxx, and not the secure https://xxxxxx.

Extracting Audio Stream Information from station websites

Digging out streams from station websites can be a little trickier.  Using an example of the webpage for the NPR station KCLU, once loaded, press “F12” to bring up the developer tools as shown on the right-hand side of Image 4 below.

Then Press “F5” to reload the page, and the Play button to start the audio stream.

In the Developer Tools window, select “Network”, as shown in the Image 5 above.

While the stream is playing, look for the longest bar, which indicates activity.  Sorting the files in this window by size or time (if descending order, be at the top of the list, if descending order at the bottom of the list) can make searching for the “bar” easier, or just look for it in the list as shown in the Image 6 above.  Look for the file associated with the “bar” under “Name”, right-click on that file, Copy, and left-click “Copy link address” as shown in the Image 7 below.

That is usually your stream, or something close to it.  In this example, this is the link address copied:

https://kclustream.callutheran.edu:8090/kclump3?uuid=5blcmxjpp

That’s a little messy, and you can experiment with shortening it.  In this case, the link can be shortened to: https://kclustream.callutheran.edu:8090/kclump3 [removing the question mark and all characters following it] and the stream still plays in a web browser on the computer–while I’ve not tested it, it would probably play in your internet radio. You’ll just have to experiment.

However, in this case (and most certainly not all), shortening the link to https://kclustream.callutheran.edu:8090/  brings up another page with all sorts of data, and clicking the M3U file on that page downloads a file.  Opening that file with Notepad reveals this link (  https://kclustream.callutheran.edu:8090/kcluaac  ), which also plays the stream, and in my guess, is probably the real stream URL. 

Different web pages will reveal different ‘formats’ of URLs–one simply has to experiment to get something to work.  The procedure is essentially the same with other pages, though there is often variation so a certain amount of experimentation is sometimes needed to tease out the stream URLs.  There isn’t really any one set of instructions that will work for everything (that I’ve found anyway!).

The examples shown used Google Chrome, and the Brave browser works exactly the same.  The operating system used was Windows.  Firefox seems similar (F12) and other browsers probably also work similar, though the appearance might be a bit different.

A few things that might add clarification with ‘odd’ streams:

In the developer tools window under Name, sometimes those items (files) are labelled as just a semicolon, or are labelled something like ‘stream.’

Sometimes the stream URL is httpS://…., with those, try dropping the “s” and the http://…. often works.

I often tried any proposed streams out on my desktop computer first, however there were some that wouldn’t play on the desktop that did on the Reciva radio, and vise-versa.  But generally, if it didn’t work on the computer, it didn’t work on the internet radio.

Sometimes the URLs point to a link with a .pls extension.  In a browser, those links tend to initiate a download (at least on my setup, and was the case with the M3U file in the KCLU example).  You can download the file, then open with a text editor (Notepad for example) and read the link there.

For some, the URL won’t work. For those, I would get them to work by adding a semicolon (;) to the end of what you think might be the link.  I’ve had a few work with that trick!

While digging out steams is tedious–especially if you have a lot of them–there’s a potentially very rewarding payoff!  When you create the .pls files (as described in other Reciva postings in this blog), you can easily copy those to many other devices (Android phone/tablet, iPod/iPhone, other computers, Kodi, etc.) and use them there.  I’ve only started on this project, but I used an old (very old) iPod touch, entered the stream URL into Safari, placed the iPod in a docking station (a dime/dozen at second-hand stores) and basically created an internet radio facsimile.  As the iPod is too old for the App Store, entering the URL’s and bookmarking them should provide convenience.  The .pls files work well in my Android devices with VLC player, and even with Kodi (on a Raspberry Pi). They also work on my TV by placing the files in the “Video” section, read from external media (can probably use the boot SD card for memory storage as well, the files are very small).


Thank you for sharing this, Rob!

I recall our friend, Tracy Wood, discussing in some detail how to find radio streams a few years ago at the Winter SWL Fest. He was on a mission to find rare local and regional South American stations that aren’t easily available outside the area.

I have used the approach you mentioned above and it is effective.

Readers: if you have other tips, please feel free to share them in the comments section.

Of course, we should note again that the Reciva website will be taken down at the end of April 2021. We suspect some or all Reciva radios may eventually fail in the absence of receiving a token over the Internet. While we haven’t received a confirmation, my industry sources seem to think this is a real possibility. Let’s hope not.

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SiriusXM streaming stopped working on legacy Grace radio models as of March 31st, 2021

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Randy, who notes:

One thing that has gone under the radar here is that several Grace Radio models, in addition to being impacted by the Reciva shutdown, can’t stream SiriusXM as of March 31st.

Grace Radio posted the following announcement about this here:

SiriusXM on all Legacy radios stopped working on March 31st. This is the final date for this action which was originally planned to occur last year.

      • Radios with model numbers that start with ‘GDI-WHA’ will not be affected.
      • Radios with model numbers that start with ‘GDI-IR” will be affected.

We apologize for the interruption in your service, and wish we were allowed to upgrade the old platform.

Regards,

Greg Fadul

Grace Digital

CEO

———————————–

[Note from SiriusXM]

Thank you for listening to SiriusXM. We appreciate your loyalty. It has come to our attention that you may be streaming SiriusXM at home using a Grace device. On March 31 we enhanced our streaming service and consequently your streaming player may not be able support the new SiriusXM feed. If you are unable to get SiriusXM at home after March 31 on your current equipment we recommend the following options.  Upgrade to a newer model.

If you are still able to listen to SiriusXM on your current equipment after March 31, then you can ignore this issue. Rest assured, this has no effect on your account and the billing of your SiriusXM subscription package. This also has no effect on listening to SiriusXM by satellite.

If you have any questions, please call us at 1-888-601-6296.

We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for being a loyal SiriusXM listener.

I was hoping that SiriusXM would still work on my model – it’s the only component style Internet radio (GDI-IRDT200) that Grace made that fits in my audio system rack and I’ve used it a lot to listen to SiriusXM’s streaming service. But, it looks like it’s a brick now.

Thank you for sharing this, Randy.

Yes, this now explains why my “legacy” Grace Digital radio no longer plays SiriusXM. Last week, I noticed that it would no longer accept my SiriusXM username and password.

I’m guessing some of the iHeartRadio functionality may still work on my unit, but that remains to be seen (I rarely use that particular service).

I’m sure Grace Digital is experiencing a very serious hit to their reputation. As I understand the situation, the rug was pulled out from underneath them. They (nor C.Crane) had any warning that Reciva (or, rather, Qualcomm now) would pull the plug on the aggregator service. I can also tell by the announcement that they weren’t expecting SiriusXM to “enhance” their streaming service in a way that would disable SiriusXM on older units.

I still haven’t received a firm confirmation yet, but it does look more likely that Reciva radios may use a token system to routinely verify compatible products. If this turns out to be true, there may be no way to stop Reciva units from becoming bricks.

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Do Reciva WiFi radios use a token system? Let’s prove or disprove this now.

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Rob Gray, who recently reached out with some potentially concerning information about Reciva radios.

Evidently, some users are claiming that Reciva chips require a periodic token refresh to keep the radio functioning properly.

Rob writes:

From this internet radio forum a contributor wrote:

“Apparently, even stations with URLs stored locally on the radios as presets, will eventually stop working.  The Reciva chips require a token to be renewed periodically from the Reciva server;  once the server is turned off, the token can no longer be renewed, and the radio becomes a dead parrot.  Apparently Reciva did this to prevent their chips from being pirated.”

Another contributor wrote:

“….when I asked Grace about it, their reply was that while the presets would work for a time, eventually even that function won’t work because the radios require a token to be renewed periodically from a Reciva server.  If the server is gone and the token can’t be renewed, the radio becomes a doorstop.  It wasn’t clear how long the radio will work…”

I don’t know if this is true or not (time will quickly show), but when I asked C.Crane about this a while back, they seemed aware of the possibility and their experts gave it a 50/50% chance of success/failure based on tokens.

Speaking with a very knowledgeable friend on the topic, he has described that the real, ultimate way to tackle this problem is to have a ‘packet sniffer’ and monitor all the traffic in/out of the network to understand what data is being used (like if there is a token for example) and reverse engineer what Reciva is doing.

Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Rob.

Tokens: Can someone prove or disprove this?

There are some savvy programmers, network specialists, developers, and hackers in the SWLing Post community. My hope is that someone can use a packet sniffer or similar device to determine if this is true or not. Since the Reciva service will close down by the end of the month, time is of the essence.

My hope is that if there is a token, it won’t shut down functionality to a point that we can’t stream from our own IIS or perhaps the token can be reverse-engineered. Or maybe there is no token at all, or if there is it will have no impact on usability after the Reciva service has closed.

Please comment and/or reach out to me with any evidence.  I’d like to clear this up with some facts. Many thanks in advance!

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A review of the Ocean Digital WR-23D WiFi, FM, DAB & DAB+, and Bluetooth Portable Radio

Readers might recall that last year, I reviewed the Ocean Digital WR-26 portable radio and was pretty impressed.

Although it turns out a number of SWLing Post readers were familiar with Ocean Digital and had purchased some of their radios, I hadn’t heard of them until an SWLing Post contributor encouraged the company to contact me.

I must say: all of my communications with Ocean Digital have been very positive and the company has also been very receptive to my frank feedback. All good things.

Ocean Digital reached out to me last month and asked if I would like to test their WR-23D portable radio. Why not? They dispatched on immediately from their Amazon stock here in the USA.

In the spirit of full disclosure, Ocean Digital sent this review sample to me at no cost and as soon as this review has been published (as in, right now), I’m sending it to one of our SWLing Post Patreon supporters I pick at random.

Initial impressions

The Ocean Digital WR-23D sports an ABS plastic body that feels very solid in the hand. Indeed, some shortwave portable manufacturers should take note–the ABS structure is so solid, there’s no give when I press into the middle of the speaker grill, for example. I feel like this radio would survive falling off of a table or shelf with no problems.

The backlit 2.4″ color display is very easy to read with crisp graphics, text, and ample contrast.

The top of the radio features a power button and three dedicated memory preset buttons. The volume control is also mounted on the top of the radio and protrudes out of the front slightly so your thumb can move it.

On the front of the radio, there are dedicated buttons for the Home screen, EQ/Local button, Favorites, and Sleep Timer.

In the center, there’s a circular navigation control and selection button.

On the back of the unit, you’ll find the telescoping whip antenna for FM, DAB/DAB+, an LED indicator for charging, a 3.5mm earphone jack, and (yes!) a USB-C charging port. I’m so happy to see a USB-C port rather than the older Micro USB variety.

Sound

The front-facing speaker delivers balanced audio. There has obviously been some attention given to the speaker enclosure because it produces a bit more bass than I would have anticipated. There are 12 EQ presets you can use to tailor the audio as well.  The WR-3D is not an audio powerhouse–in fact, the audio level stops short of allowing the speaker to splatter–do don’t expect a “boom box” response.

For listening to music or voice in your office, bedroom, or living room? Yeah, it’ll work a charm!

Portability

What I love about these Ocean Digital units is that they have a built-in rechargeable battery.

In my household, this is huge.

I often carry my WiFi radios around the house, moving from the kitchen, to my office, to outdoors near the wood shed (it’s the time of year I start splitting firewood again!).

I’ve found that not only does the battery power the WR-23D for many hours at a time, but the WiFi receiver in the unit is also robust enough that the radio can communicate with our router outside the house. With that said, the WiFi reception is not as good as it is with the recently reviewed CC WiFi 3 which actually sports an external WiFi RX antenna. Then again, the CCWiFi 3 doesn’t have a rechargeable battery either.

Internet Radio

The Ocean Digital WR-23D uses the Skytune radio station aggregator to search for Internet radio station streams.

In short: I like Skytune. It’s easy to search, they’ll add streams if they’re missing any, and it’s well-organized. Instead of reviewing the aggregator again, I’ll point you to the Ocean Digital WR-26 review for more detail as the navigation is identical other than the WR-23D has a nice color screen to display information.

Of course, I’m sure a number of readers have been put off by the whole idea of a dedicated Internet appliance for listening to radio in the wake of Reciva’s announced closure. For more on this topic, I’d strongly encourage you to read my thoughts in the CC WiFi 3 review (note that the CC WiFi 3 also uses the Skytune aggregator).

On Internet appliances like the WR-23D, one does worry about WiFi radio functionality failing if the station aggregator disappears. We recently posted a way you can hack some Grace Digital and C.Crane radios that use Reciva.

In the case of the WR-23D, WR-26, and CC WiFi 3 (basically all of the Skytune receivers I’ve reviewed) you can actually program your favorite radio stations manually. In fact, it’s very easy. You simply find the radio’s IP address on your network (the manual describes how to find this in the Configuration menu selection). Then, enter the radio’s IP address in a browser on a computer or device that is connected to the same WiFi network. You’ll get a window that looks like this where you can add your own streams, organize memories, and even perform basic control of the radio:

But, again, if the whole idea of an aggregator-tied device like the WR-23D is unappealing, I get it. You might simply pair your smartphone or tablet with a Bluetooth speaker and use a system like Radio Garden or TuneIn to cruise the world of online radio stations.

Bluetooth

Speaking of Bluetooth speaker, yes, the WR-23D is one of those, too! Simply select “Bluetooth” from the home menu and pair it with your favorite device. Couldn’t be easier!

FM radio

The WR-23D has a very capable FM radio. I had it scan my local FM dial and it automatically picked up all of the stations I would have expected. The radio has both auto and manual tuning.

In addition, the WR-23D displays RDS information on the screen. This is a feature I love especially when travelling as it helps me ID the station I’m tuned to.

DAB/DAB+

Unfortunately, we have no DAB/DAB+ stations in the US, so I was unable to test this functionality.

Summary

As I mentioned, I really appreciate the matte finish ABS chassis. I like to know that my portables can survive a fall.

I’ve been using the WR-23D here at SWLing Post HQ for about one month and only have a few minor/personal complaints. For example, I wish the headphone jack was on the side of the radio instead of the back. Also, I wish the telescoping whip antenna fit into a recess on the chassis rather than being fully mounted on the outside. I would like to see a fold out tilt stand on the back of the unit (I’ve actually used the antenna to prop this radio at an angle, but that’s not ideal).

If you’re looking for a truly portable WiFi radio and Bluetooth speaker with a proper FM and DAB/DAB+ receiver the Ocean Digital WR-23D is a solid choice.   Amazon’s current price is $79.99 US with shipping and free returns–I feel like this is a value for all this radio has to offer.

I can say this: the SWLing Post Patron who wins this WR-23D will really enjoy it! I have.

Click here to check out the Ocean Digital WR-23D at Amazon.com (SWLing Post affiliate link!)

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How to give your Reciva WiFi radio a second life before the service closes on April 30, 2021

The C.Crane CC Wifi

In November 2020, we learned that the Reciva radio station aggregator would be closing down permanently which would effectively render a large portion of WiFi radios on the market useless. This closure will affect a number of WiFi radio manufacturers, but two of the most notable are Grace Digital and C.Crane. I own one of each.

The Grace Digital Mondo

The comments section of my original post about the Reciva closure became the default discussion group for Reciva device owners who were trying to sort out options to keep their devices functional. That article (at time of posting) has nearly 200 comments alone.

There have been some very productive discussions about circumventing the Reciva aggregator before the announced closure on April 30, 2021. Since this information is buried in such a deep comment thread, I wanted to give it better visibility and search-ability by creating a dedicated post on this topic.

Ray Robinson, one of the contributors who has been actively helping owners, has very kindly written up a tutorial for us here and I’m most grateful.

Ray’s Guide to setting up your own “Reciva” WiFi webserver

Ray writes:

[T]he bad news is that Qualcom is shutting down the Reciva website on April 30th, and any Reciva-based Internet radios will no longer be able to tune stations from that aggregator after the shutdown.

The sort-of good news is that if you have a station link stored in a preset on your Internet radio, the preset should continue to work after April 30th, until such time in the future as the station needs to change the link for their webstream.

Because, the other part of the bad news is that most Internet radios don’t have any way of directly inputting or modifying a webstream, or storing a webstream manually in a preset. So, after April 30th, you would lose any ability to change or update any of the presets.

That’s where my work-around comes in. Internet radios do have the in-built ability to address and pull data from a webserver – that’s how they use the Reciva site in the first place. So what I have done is point my radio (a CCWiFi) to a ‘web server’ on my local network instead. This solution uses a Windows PC; there may be a comparable solution using a Mac or a Linux box, but I’m not familiar with either of those.

First, make sure the PC you are going to use is visible to other PC’s and devices on your local network (‘Network Discovery’ turned on, file sharing enabled, etc.).
Second, I recommend you give the PC a reserved internal IP address in your router. If you leave it with IP being assigned by DHCP, its IP address could change anytime it is rebooted, and then your wi-fi radio won’t be able to find it for the presets. In my router, I assigned 192.168.1.1-200 for DHCP, and then gave my PC the reserved address of 192.168.1.201, which ensures it always has that same address.

Third, enable IIS (Microsoft’s ‘Internet Information Services’) in Windows. This will create a local web server on the machine. In Control, Panel, go to Programs / Turn Windows features on or off. Click the box next to Internet Information Services and OK, and let Windows install that component.

We are going to store our station webstream links on the PC in playlist files, which have the file extension of .pls. But first we have to tell IIS what to do with a .pls file, as it doesn’t know by default. (.m3u files will work as well, but I did it with .pls files, so I’ll detail how to use those.) We do this by adding a MIME type. Click the Windows start button, and search for IIS. The top result will be Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager. Click that. In the center of the panel that opens, click MIME Types and then ‘Open Feature’ at the top on the right. This will show you all the extensions IIS knows about. If you scroll down, you will see there isn’t one for .pls. So, we need to create it. At top right, click Add… In the panel that opens, enter a File name extension of .pls and a MIME type of application/pls+xml Then click OK and exit IIS.

If you now look in the root of the C: drive, you will see there is a folder called inetpub, with a subfolder called wwwroot. This is where we want to store the presets.

My CCWiFi has 99 presets, so I have put 99 files in this subfolder, named from Preset01.pls to Preset99.pls.

As an example, my first preset, Preset01.pls, is for Caroline Flashback. To create the .pls, open Notepad, and copy and paste the following:


[playlist]
NumberOfEntries=1
File1=http://sc2.radiocaroline.net:10558
Title1=Caroline Flashback
Length1=-1

Save the file, but change its extension from .txt to .pls.

Then, in Reciva, I need to store the entry in My Streams that will tell the CCWiFi to come and look at that file to know what to play. On the Reciva site in My Streams, I created a stream titled ’01 Caroline Flashback’ with a stream address of ‘http://192.168.1.201:80/Preset01.pls’ Remember, my PC has a reserved address of 201. If you use something different, then you will need to change the stream address accordingly.

Then, on the CCWiFi, go to My Stuff / MyStreams and select ’01 Caroline Flashback’. Reciva is telling the CCWiFi to go to my PC and look at the contents of Preset01.pls. This it does, and starts playing the stream. Then, it’s just a matter of storing that playing stream in preset 1 on the radio.

With that done, at any time in the future if I decide to change the contents of that .pls file, I can just store the details of any other station/stream, and the radio will play that instead without any reference back to Reciva.

I recommend you do that for all available presets on your Internet radio whether you are using them or not, even if they only contain duplicate entries for now, because that way you will maintain access to be able to use those presets in the future. And, you must do this before April 30th, when the Reciva site will shut down.

Actually obtaining the URL of a station’s webstream can be difficult; some stations are very helpful and provide them all on their website, while others seem to do their best to hide them. However, here in Los Angeles, I have found the webstream URL’s of all of our local AM and FM stations, plus the webstream URL’s of all North American SW stations, and all the UK stations as well (both BBC and commercial). I’d be happy to advise on that also, but it’s probably beyond the scope of this particular tutorial!

Thank you so much Ray, for taking the time to write up this tutorial.

If anyone is familiar with how to set up a similar webserver on MacOS or Linux, feel free to comment with details.

By the way Post readers: if the name Ray Robinson sounds familiar, it’s because he’s a weekly contributor to AWR Wavescan, and also a presenter on Radio Caroline Flashback!

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Reviewing a pilot C.Crane CC Wifi 3 and taking a closer look at radio station aggregators

In January 2021, C.Crane announced the latest addition to their radio line-up: the C.Crane CC WiFi-3.

C.Crane was one of the first radio manufacturers that embraced the world of Internet radio with their CC WiFi product line.

The WiFi-3 is the latest iteration and offers the following upgrades over previous models:

  • This radio uses the Skytune radio station aggregator
  • Faster boot-up, connection, and response times
  • Can be powered from a common USB source or the supplied AC adapter
  • Enhanced audio EQ settings
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Ability to add station streams manually

Before we dig into the CC WiFi-3, however, let’s first take a step back and talk about the current state of WiFi radios in general. This is an important consideration with any WiFi radio purchase these days.

WiFi radios: the pros and cons

Those of us who like WiFi radios appreciate a dedicated device that gives us the tactile experience of turning the knobs of a radio. We appreciate the simplicity of a dedicated listening device that doesn’t rely on a connected computer, tablet, or phone. In addition, most WiFi radios like the CC WiFi-3 don’t track your listening activity/habits like many internet radio listening apps and digital assistants do. They also don’t force feed you click-through ads.

But let’s face it: any of us who own Internet or WiFi Radios have had a rough couple of years. While WiFi radios can open the door to tens of thousands of radio stations across the globe, they do have an Achilles’ heel.

 Internet radio station aggregators

WiFi radios are Internet appliances with the ability to stream Internet content, but they’re not endowed with the ability to seek out stations in the wild and import their audio streams. WiFi radios rely on “aggregators,” or online databases of curated links to radio stations.

In the early days of WiFi radio, there were several models of radios on the market that linked to proprietary/niche aggregators, many of which eventually closed down without warning. When a WiFi radio loses its ability to link to an aggregator, it becomes no more than a pricey paperweight, especially if the WiFi radio doesn’t have traditional AM/FM reception as a backup or a back-end means to program radio station stream URLs directly.

Over the past two years, some of the major radio station aggregators have experienced issues that have truly frustrated their users. Most notably:

With this aggravating aggregator history, why would anyone want to invest their money in another WiFi radio? Let’s take a closer look at this new device from C.Crane so you can decide.

The new C.Crane CC WiFi-3

When C.Crane introduced the CC Wifi 3, they acknowledged the inherent issues with WiFi radios and how the Reciva closure affected their customers up-front. Here’s a statement they released:

We were happy to be one of first companies to offer ad-free Internet radio because it allowed anyone to listen to the world without a fee. Fifteen years ago, Ben, the founder of Reciva, had a small staff to create the software and volunteers around the world to help manage the station streams. We are sorry, but Reciva’s software will soon not work anymore. The software would need to be recreated from scratch. Even If this was done, it would not be possible for the existing radios to be compatible with this new type of software. This is the same way Apple and Microsoft might release a new operating system that is not compatible with older hardware.

We are working on a new radio called the CC WiFi-3. We will be testing the first pilot run of the new CC WiFi-3 in January with the first delivery by April if all goes reasonably well. There are still no ads or graphics to annoy you and nobody tracks your habits for advertising offers. It looks almost the same as the previous CC WiFi but has been upgraded in several ways:

  1. It uses a new 3rd party stream provider called Skytune.
  2. You can add your own streams (URLs) yourself so you are somewhat protected if the service fails for any reason.
  3. It is a little easier to use and it has a good built-in equalizer available.
  4. This radio comes with a 2 year limited warranty.

[…]The CC WiFi-3 comes with the risk of losing connection to Skytune’s server if they were to shut down in the future. As we have previously documented in our catalog and on the web: C. Crane has no control over content or the stream provider for Internet radios and cannot be responsible for Internet radio programs or availability.

I love this about C.Crane: they’re honest and transparent with their customers even during a new product release.

In January (2021), C.Crane sent me a pilot run, pre-production CC WiFi-3 for review and a thorough evaluation at no cost to me. Of course, I don’t typically share reviews of pre-production radios, but in this case, I believe the production model should function identically–or perhaps better–than my pilot model. I’m not concerned with variations in receiver sensitivity, selectivity, filtering, AGC, and noise floors as I would with a legacy receiver.

At first blush, the CC Wifi-3 could be mistaken for the CC WiFi-2. Other than the prominent model number, it has an identical form-factor and interface. Inside, though, there have been a number of updates we’ve already mentioned.

Getting started

First thing I did, of course, was connect the CC WiFi-3 to the internet. It was a pretty simple process to go into the settings, have the radio find my WiFi service, and input the network password. If you have a long or complicated password, allow a few minutes to do this as the input method is character-by-character using the main front panel knob.

Once connected, the radio has access to the new Skytune aggregator to search for radio station streams. I’m familiar with Skytune because they are the aggregator also used by my recently reviewed Ocean Digital radio. I like how Skytune organizes their database allowing users to search by by location/region, popularity, genre, etc. I found most of the stations I enjoy in short order.

If Skytune doesn’t have the station you’re looking for, they make it easy to suggest an addition via their website.

Adding presets

Adding Presets couldn’t be any easier. I’ve been using the most simple method: finding a station, then pressing and holding the PRESET button. This will save the radio station to the next available preset with more than 100 slots available.

Directly adding stream URLs

As C.Crane mentioned in their statement, even if the Skytune aggregator were to shut down in the future, the CC WiFi-3 makes it relatively easy to directly add your own streams by logging into the radio from a web browser.

First, make sure you’re using a computing device that is connected to the same WiFi network as the CC WiFi-3.

Secondly, find the IP address of your CC Wifi-3 by pressing the HOME button, then selecting SETTINGS -> INFORMATION -> NETWORK INFORMATION -> IP: (immediately below the signal strength information).

Note the IP address. Mine is currently 172.20.10.5 but yours will likely be a different number.

Next, open a web browser and in the URL bar, type in the IP address of your CC WiFi-3 radio and press Enter:

Your web browser will then load a page served up by your radio’s CPU (allow time for it to load):

From this page you can add, organize, and label your station presets manually.

The CC WiFi-3 owner’s manual actually gives you hints about how to find URLs for radio stations. There’s certainly an art to it.

First thing I did, in fact, was add one of my favorite AM radio stations (WAIZ) to the WiFi-3 directly by finding their main and backup stream URLs and adding them manually via the presets page. This instantaneously added them to the WiFi-3 presets:

This pleases me to no end because I’ve never been able to play WAIZ from one of my WiFi radios.

From the presets web page you can also control some basic radio functionality like volume up/down, mute on/off, and channel selection.

While this isn’t quite as handy as a dedicated app, I like the fact that I can load this presets page from my phone, tablet, PC, Mac, or Linux box. It’s universal and simple.

Bluetooth

I’m happy C.Crane added Bluetooth to the CC WiFi-3 because it makes this already capable radio even more useful.  As I write this portion of the review, in fact, I’m listening to music from YouTube via my MacBook Air streaming to the CC WiFi-3 via Bluetooth. Handy!

Audio

I prefer the audio from the CC WiFi-3 over previous models. It’s balanced and has hints of bass and treble. It is robust enough to fill a sizeable room with audio.

It isn’t anything that would impress my audiophile brother-in-law because, in the end, the speaker and enclosure are not very large. It does reproduce voice and music with ample fidelity for casual listening, however.

You can tailor the audio with 12 EQ settings included in the WiFi-3 settings menu. I like the Jazz preset.

In addition, the CC WiFi-3 has a line-out and headphone jack that makes it easy to export audio to a component stereo system or amplified speaker system. (Note above the “Not For Resale” label on the back of this pilot/pre-production unit.)

Remote control

The CC WiFi-3 also ships with an excellent full-size remote control. I love how much functionality this remote offers, making it much easier to navigate and control the radio from across the room. I also much prefer the form factor of this remote compared with the small credit card-sized remotes with membrane buttons.

Summary

Every radio has its pros and cons. When I begin a review, I take notes from the very beginning so that I don’t forget some of my initial impressions. Here are the notes I made for the CC WiFi-3 pre-production/pilot model:

Pros:

  • Ability to input streaming stations manually via a simple web browser interface
  • Best in class WiFi reception via a dedicated antenna
  • Input power is 5VDC meaning, you can use the supplied USB cable to plug into any USB power source, or you can use the supplied dedicated wall wart power supply. C.Crane includes both.
  • Audio EQ can be tailored
  • Included remote control (full size!)
  • Backed by C.Crane 2 year warranty and 30 day satisfaction guarantee
  • Line out and headphone ports
  • Bluetooth

Cons:

  • No battery power option (Pro: can use a 5VDC USB power bank)
  • Backlit screen is small and can be difficult to read at a distance
  • No dedicated iOS or Android control application (Pro: remote control)
  • As with any WiFi radio, dependent on a station aggregator for easy radio station searches

Should you purchase the CC WiFi-3?

If you’re not intimidated by the “aggregator aggravation” we mentioned early in this article, I would suggest you give the CC WiFi-3 a try. Since the WiFi-3 offers easy, open access to add your station streams manually, you always have a backup if, for instance, the Skytune service  were to unexpectedly close down in the distant future.

For $119.99 US, you’ll be purchasing a radio from a company that takes care of their customers.

Indeed, C.Crane was so upset by the unexpected closure of Reciva, they have offered their existing CC WiFi customers the following options:

This is a one-time offer from C. Crane. This offer will end June 1, 2021.

    1. If you have purchased a CC WiFi and it is under the 1 year limited warranty, contact us for the available options.
    2. If you have purchased a CC WiFi and it is no longer under warranty, the CC WiFi-3 is available for half price – $60.00 USD plus shipping. You must fill out the form (click here) and include a picture of your serial number(s). Instructions are included on the form for how to locate your serial number. If you need help with this, please contact us. You will be contacted once we receive our shipment to get payment information and to confirm your address.

To my knowledge, no other radio manufacturer or retailer has made an offer like this to compensate for the loss of the Reciva service. Kudos to C.Crane for giving their customers options and discounts.

C.Crane expects to have the CC WiFi-3 in stock and shipping in June 2021. We’ll post updates on the SWLing Post when they become available.

Click here to check out the CC WiFi-3 at the C.Crane website.

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