Clear Channel Radio streaming audio tricks
UPDATE 08/27/2009: The original post is old, please keep than in mind as you read it (duh). I’ve also turned off any new comments. Details and discussion of the new streaming format have been covered endlessly in the comments. There’s nothing more I can add. You need to use their player or find the content elsewhere from more listener friendlier streaming sources. Contrary to popular opinion, CCR does not have a monopoly on all the broadcast content out there. I have found most all of the content that I need ELSEWHERE or via private/underground streams.
Plus if I were to detail a workaround for the current stream protection technique, then guess what? They would just change things again! I see the visits from CCR IP netblocks showing up on here so I know they’re keeping an eye on it.
Figured I’d share this one outside of close family/friends as Clear Channel Radio’s (CCR) streaming methods seem to get more annoying as time goes on (this coming from a CCR fan too). There’s a couple of ways to work around this, but I’ll post the one that they can’t do much about.
Many are like myself and enjoy listening to various radio station streams on the web as I work in the office. This is especially helpful for listening to the AM’s as the modern urban and suburban environments are hard on AM signals (high noise floor). Most of what I used to listen to were Clear Channel stations, but they’ve gotten so annoying I’ve found other outlets for the same content. It never fails to amaze me how hard and/or annoying CCR makes listening to their streams:
1. Forcing folks to use a player embedded in a browser pop up window is just asking for compatibility/reliability issues.
2. Mandates the use of some form of Windows Media Player. Horrible idea as it immediately makes it impossible to listen using default install of Mac OS X.
3. Add in a nice dose of non-stop flash advertising and/or logos running non-stop in this browser window and not only is it annoying, it can become a performance/system resource problem.
4. Web sites that are, well, horribly bloated and way too active. The web design concept of a “light front door” is apparently lost on them.
To get around this mess CCR has made, for a long time many of us knew how to get the raw URL for the mms stream and just launch it manually in our player of choice. I personally prefer the good ol’ Media Player Classic. I usually get MPC with Real Alternative which I use as I feel the full blown Real Player is just a horrible waste of system resources and they have a history of privacy and security issues. A typical raw mms URL would look like:
This allowed a lot of flexibility in how you could bring the streams up, bookmark them, and so forth. Unfortunately Clear Channel wasn’t too found of this as more and more folks were listening via this or very similar manners. So in 2007 they went in and mandated an auth key to the URL in order to play. Without this dynamic auth key you would get an access denied or other error trying to play their streams.
This new CCR stream protection technique, IMHO, is about useless and just annoys a good chunk of your listener base. For the folks at CCR, the bulk of your content can be found elsewhere so do you want us listening to your streams or your competition’s streams? There’s even a growing underground streaming effort where folks are setting up their own private servers for streaming their local station’s OTA (Over The Air) broadcasts to their friends in other parts of the country.
This latest technique is easily worked around although it does break some of the flexibility we had with the old system. You can still play the streams manually in your player of choice:
2. Copy and use the portion of the URL up to the point that looks like &aifp=
For example, here’s a raw URL (I’ve chopped off a lot of the end for readability):
Out of that, you want this portion:
mms://a399.l1999912365.b19999.e.lm.akamaistream.net/D/399/19999/v0001/reflector:12999?auth=ca vdaskfjds;fda fidajfdsfasd;kfjdsjfadsfdsaasfdsadfdxxx
You can now take that portion and manually load it in your player of choice. Presto!
The auth key expires eventually, so bookmarking this URL is still useless as you’d need a new key the next time you go to listen.
The upside is you can take this link/URL and play the stream once in your favorite player and not be strapped to their horrible player.
The Mac users are still screwed unless you want to install the Windows Media Player for Mac or just use a non CCR station to listen to your favorite program on. CCR’s choice to instantly exclude a small, but growing potential audience of Mac users just beats me as to their thinking…especially considering the demographics of the average Mac user. As I always comment, “do they want more listeners or not?”
For Rush Limbaugh live, Clark Howard, Sean Hannity (recorded earlier), and Coast to Coast AM, consider WTIC 1080 AM out of Hartford, CT. They’ve got a decent site and flash based player that works on anything that can play flash content (aka just about everything including stock Mac OS X). Site is a tad on the “heavy” side, but it’s tolerable. You can also get WTIC on Reciva. CCR could learn a thing or two from WTIC’s site and streaming!
For the very popular “John and Ken” show you’re stuck going in via KFI’s horribly bloated, annoying, and way too heavy site here. Love the show, too bad the KFI 640 AM website sucks so bad.
For Dennis Miller, Bill Bennett, Laura Ingraham, Hugh Hewitt, Michael Medved, Dennis Prager, the Wall Street Journal morning show, and Mike Gallager try WGTK 970 AM out of Louisville, KY.
Odd how the best places to get a good stream are non-CCR eh? That’s the beauty of the internet. Even though there are some web sites that think they have a stranglehold on a particular type of content, they’re usually wrong 99% of the time. Annoy your site visitors and they’ll just find the content they want elsewhere.
Reports that this trick doesn’t work outside of the USA. Guess you could try using one of the VPN services out there for travelers and let that make you appear to be from an American network?