Entering own radio stations in MaPlEr

Written by: David

Several times, we have had the question on this list, how to find and implement radio stations in MaPlEr. The scenario is, just about always, the same. You have a favorite station, that you want to add to the station list of MaPlEr, but you can't get the link to work. There is a few reasons thereof, and also a few work arounds, at least in some cases. In this article, I will try to deal with a somehow technical issue, in as little tech terms as possible.

Before digging into the matter, though, let me encourage all of you to give feedback on my articles. Are they helpful, do they increase your knowledge and use of your computer, and what can be done to improve them.

First of all, I want you to understand a bit of the nature, of a radio station on the internet. Without going into too many details, let's tell it this way:
A good old radio studio, would have a microphone, that was attached to an amplifier, which again was attached to an antenna. When a person spoke in the microphone, the sound was converted into electronic signals, that were boosted in the amplifier, and shot out on the antenna. These electronic signals, flew through the air, and hit your local radio antenna, underwent a load of electronic treatment and conversion inside your radio, and finally were transformed into audible sounds in your speaker. Most of this process is still going on. Only, now aday, the studio sends a parallel stream of signals, on a cable to their local server.
What is a server? In very short terms, simply a powerfull big version of your desktop computer. In fact, many small studios, decide not to use an air-borne distribution, and solely rely on distributing their material on the net.
You could, basically, do it yourself. You would speak into the microphone, the sound would undergo an electronic treatment inside your computer, and the whole thing would be streamed out on the net. Here, me and a thousand other people, could 'hook on to' this stream, and listen to your broadcast. This is the very basic of an internet stream, and will make up the basic understanding for the rest of this article.

In the prior paragraph, I only told you the very physical parts of the story. But you know, from all other operations you are performing on your computer, there always need to be some kind of software installed to handle your operation. That is the case when comes to streaming as well. The streaming software firstly will convert your speech, or the music you play, into electronic signals.Next, your streaming software will connect to the internet, and send out all these signals on the net - also called uploading the stream. But the story doesn't end there. When you upload your stream, it is actually send to a big server, the one of your Internet Service Provider - or ISP. This is where your website is located, and that is where the rest of the world would find your stream.

OK, so now we have finally got your stream out there, on the internet - ready for all the world to hook on to it. Then what happens next? And, how can you and I hook on to, or connect to, such a stream?

Before we deal with that point let me leave the computer world for one short second. I will need to take you inside your home, and out in your car. You will soon enough realize, why this break away from the computer is necessary.
Let's just turn our attention slightly away from your computer desk. In your living room, you might likely have a stereo, or even a home theatre system. These are units, that let you listen to radio, or TV broadcasts; as well as playing your CDs and maybe even DVDs. Now, let's have a walk outside, and look into your car. Here you have a car stereo, yet another unit, that will let you listen to music, and even radio broadcasts. Allright, let us now go back inside your house, and put your hand in your pocket. Oops, what did you find? Your nice little MP3 player. Again, a unit that will let you listen to music, and receive radio broadcasts.
All of this equipment, will do the same job. Yet, are you able to use them at the same place? Could you, for instance, have brought your home theatre system in your car, and have it work? Hardly! First of all, you don't have a wall outlet in your car, hence nowhere to plug in your home theatre system. And, even IF you happend to arrange the cabling for it, it would never have worked. Your car runs on a battery, giving out 12 volts. Your home system is based on the power from your wall socket, which means 110 volts, if you are located in the Americas, and parts of Asia; and 230 volts, if you are in Europe and Australia. Likewise, you could not bring your car stereo inside your house, and have it work there - at least not without certain extra equipment, and a good portion of hazzle. After all, the ONLY equipment, that will be operational both places, is your little, PORTABLE, MP3 player.

We are now ready to enter back into the computer world again.



An Internet-based audio stream, can be streamed in different versions, or formats. Several providers, or radio stations, do their streaming in a browser dependent format. This would compare, to streaming on your car radio, in the above example. Just as little as you can take your car stereo inside the home, and use it there, you cannot take such browser dependent streams outside your browser. And, similar to the fact, you cannot have your big floor standing home speakers connected to your car stereo - whatever nice that would have been - you cannot have MaPlEr playing browser dependent streams. Yet, you can have music on your portable MP3 player, and have it playing in your car, and also connect your player to your home system, with whatever benefits that includes for your listening experience. Likewise, there is - let's call them - PORTABLE streams, that you easily can implement in your audio player on the computer, like MaPlEr. Such streams would have to be in a portable format, supported by MaPlEr. The most common formats are MP3, and WMA. If you get a link for such a portable stream, it is a matter of a breeze, to have it added to the radio list in MaPlEr. I will deal with the process of doing so, near the end of this article. However, there is a couple more questions, that we want to have sorted out, before we get that far.


There would be a few reasons for doing so. Some of it might be understandable, the restt will be more. . . Well, here is a few reasons:

  1. Their software does not allow for other kinds of streaming.
  2. The engineers behind the software, did not know of better ways of doing the job, or did not want to possess such knowledge. :-)
  3. The people in the radio studio are real FANS of things like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and the like.
  4. Internet browsers, and their connected software, does give the stream provider a certain amount of control over his stream. This include his ability to build a webpage that holds things like Volume up and down buttons, certain search and skipping features, and so forth.
  5. It might need less local computer resources, since you will upload your stream to a webpage, and let the ISP take the heavy load of storing and distributing your stream.
  6. And - approximately a thousand other more or less good reasons.

Whichever of the above does apply in a given situation, the same end result is always applicable: What is browser-based streams, MaPlEr is out of luck in implementing - at least as per date. Does that mean, that such stations are out of reach for the MaPlEr users? Not necessary.


Since a browser dependent stream cannot be taken outside the browser, very few media players are capable of playing such streams. The only ones that I know of, which can play browser dependent streams are Windows Media Player, WinAmp, RealPlayer,and a few less known software. Yet there might likely be others on the market. What these programs basically do, is to interfere with your browser, in such a way, they fool your browser to think they are part of the browser, hence the stream will be rushed through the media player instead. This technology is known as Plugins, a term you might likely have come across several times. MaPlEr has no such browser plugins, hence does not interfere with your browser, and therefore cannot play browser dependent streams. I won't dig into the reasons, benefits or drawbacks of this, any more in this article. Whether such capability will ever be part of MaPlEr, the Mar-Dy team will be better on telling you. Still the fact remains, there is many a player on the market, that like MaPlEr does NOT do browser dependent streams. Even a lot of cellphones, do not handle that kind of streams, or will be too expensive on using such streams.
Why expensive? Simply because they would have to download a whole webpage along with the stream, and most cellphone providers charge per downloaded MB. All in all, there is a general call for audio streams that are firsthand browser dependent, to be made available in a more portable format like MP3 or WMA. Consequently, some people have realized this general call for portable streams, and providers have put up servers to do such a job. These providers, we call streaming services, and there is a few out there. The amount of streams they provide, the selection of topics and genres, the stability of their service, and the accessibility - it all varies greatly.

When I mention accessibility, it is due to the fact, that some of these streaming services are on a 'paid-for-basis', meaning you will have to subscribe to their services for a monthly or yearly fee. Such services might be hard to add to MaPlEr, since they often would require some kind of log-in information to be communicated to the server, every time you want to connect. As per date, MaPlEr does leave you no chance of communicating such log-in information to the streaming service - in the radio section - hence you would be out of luck in connecting; even if the stream itself would be portable enough. Most of the services though, are free for the user, does require no log-in, and are good to go with MaPlEr.

What does a streamming service actually do?

Very shortly told, it 'records' the browser dependent stream, converts it into a portable format, and 'replays' it as a portable stream. This process will of course, take a short time. Therefore, a stream that is delivered through a streaming service, will always experience a slight delay from the original stream, a fact, I will deal with in a few paragraphs. The quality of the conversion will vary greatly, from one service provider to the other. Keep in mind, this process has to be continuously ongoing, and the provider might do it for several streams simultaneously. Some of the bigger streaming services, do literally stream THOUSANDS of stations at the same time. Of course, this calls for tremendous amounts of computer resources. Depending on how much computer resources are available, the number of streams that has to be converted, ecconomy and so forth, the provider might decide to have his conversion set to a rather low level of quality. This could result in you finding the streamed service of little interest from one provider, yet you would find the same station streamed at a much better quality from another provider. When adding stations to the list, that ships with MaPlEr, the sound quality of the stream has been one of the parameters taken into consideration. Little use in implementing a stream, that has all that low a quality, that it hardly is bearable to listen to it.

Another fact, that has been a matter of consideration, is the stability of the service. Since the streaming service is yet another extra add-on to the chain between the studio itself and you, there is at least one more place that could cause corruption and instability of the sound. If a station is often experiencing 'off-air' periods, will it be of intrest to have it implemented on the list of available stations? A few other things have been considered, hence you might realize that there is available streams for many a station, that is not implemented at the moment. And, time to add it on to the list, is always a matter of fact as well. :) Also, be aware, that since the stations might have reasons for blocking their material from the streaming service, and other similar reasons, there is quite a few streams, that tend to come and go. They will be available in periods, and next time you check on the streaming service, they are gone; just to reappear at a later time. Again, care has been taken, not to implement such stations on the MaPlEr list. If you want, you are always welcome to add them on to your private list. And if you find them to be stabil enough, send them to the Mar-Dy team, and they could be implemented for all users.

One more thing to keep in mind, is that the streaming service would have to make use of a conversion software. There is several such software out there, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. If you took one song from your collection, and converted it with two different software, it would leave you with two slightly different-sounding songs. This even if you have the same settings in both software. Specially, this is the case when converting to MP3. Two streams, that both are provided in 128kbps quality, might give you slightly different sounding experience. In a later article, I will be dealing with conversion of music, and here give some more reasons for such differences. Why I mention all of these points, is for you to be aware there is chances what you find for a bad quality stream from one provider, you might be able to find from another provider in a sound quality that is more to your liking. You cannot always determine such things, simply by the text on the screen, stating the kbps, but might have to try out the different streaming alternatives, and determine which suits your needs the better.

Now, then, how can you find a portable version of your favorite station's stream?

There is at least three ways of doing so, except from asking your friends if they would happen to know. The three ways are as follows:


Now that you have found your favorite station's portable stream on the net, you are finally ready to add it to your MaPlEr station list. Follow these steps, and you should be ready to listen to your favorite in a few seconds:

  1. On the streaming service's web site, it should give you the actual link to your favorite station's portable stream. Mark, and copy, this link to your clipboard.
  2. Bring up MaPlEr in the foreground, by pressing Shift-Pause.
  3. Press D to go to the Radio, or you could do it by going via the Extras menu.
  4. In the Radio screen, choose Stations from the menu bar; and scroll down to New, then hit Enter; then choose New Radio Station, and hit Enter.
  5. Fill in the form, as follows:
    • A. you first will be asked for the country of your station. Type in your country, and hit Tab.
    • B. Secondly, you will be asked to choose a studio. Either choose from the existing list, or type in your studio name. Then hit Tab.
    • C. Next, you are asked for the Name of the station. Enter the name, and hit Tab.
    Here we might need a bit of clarification. What is the Studio, and what is the Station name? The Studio name, would be the name of the radio provider. For instance, American Broadcasting, would typically be called ABC. Or, British BroadCasting, which many will recognize as BBC. So, Let's say you are adding a new BBC stream, you would choose BBC from the studios list. BBC, has many different broadcastings going on simultaneously. For instance, you have their News service, their radio series service (I do believe it is called Radio 7), and their Classical music station. These diferent names, are what you would enter in the Station field of the MaPlEr form.
    • D. The fourth field asks for the location of the station. Enter this, or leave the field blank, and finalize with a press on Tab. Not all stations in the list has their location indicated, and it has no real importance for your listening experience. It is particularly useful for cases where the same station might have local material streamed for different areas. If for instance, a station was called American Trafic Radio, they might have different streams for New york, San Fransisco and Seattle. In such cases, it would be useful to enter the location for the particular stream, in this field; helping you to distinguish the different entries in the list.
    • E. You now end up on a field reading District code. Either enter the code of the State/Province/terretory if applicable, or leave the field blank; then hit Tab. In most cases, this has little meaning. Of course, you could have entered the county of the physical station, but there might be little reason for doing so. Yet, in countries like Canada and USA, which spans over several time zones, this might be a helpful field. Knowing whether your station is located in Ontario (in the eastern Canada), or in British Columbia (far Western Canada), would help you realize which time zone the station is in. If you want to listen to a radio program, and they announce it to be delivered at 3PM, that would of course refer to the local time of the station. Now, not knowing which timezone they are in, it would be hard for you to determine what time it would mean for you personally. Actually, a country like Canada runs in no less than 5 time zones, meaning there would have been chances of several hours difference. Another benefit of this field, is in the cases where the same city or town name, might be found more than one place inside the same country. The city/town name, would be what you filled in under location, the district code would indicate in what state/province/terretory the station physically is located. The codes do follow official standards (NY for New York, ON for Ontario, BC for British Columbia, CA for California, and so forth). The full list, can be found in the Radio screen, under the Radio menu, and here choose Explanation of District Codes.
    • f. Finally, we have reached the field where we are to enter the link to the stream itself. Here, paste the contents of your clipboard, that we gaind from step 1 above. Please do note, you need the exact link for the stream, not for the radio station's homepage, the streaming service, or any other link. If you have followed the steps closely, you should be entering the correct information here by now. Press Tab once.
    • G. You are on OK, and only need to hit Enter.
  6. Your job now is done. Choose your newly added station from the list, and hit Spacebar or Enter to start playing. If everything went well, you should now be listening to the stream.


If you had turn on your hardware radio, and your internet stream, on the same station you would have noticed a delay between the two of them. This delay is due to the fact, that the streamed sound has to undergo a long line of steps, before it reaches you. Below, I have made a list of the most important steps. Your hardware radio, which likely would be an FM radio, would need far less steps, and each step would be les vulnerable for interference, leaving the signals the chance of reaching you far quicker. (for your curosity, it is worth to mention that a DAB radio, will have a slight delay from an FM radio, due to the fact of it having to undergo some of the steps that applies for the internet stream. It would still be ahead of the internet stream.) Adjusting your clock from a streamed radio is not adviceable, if you want to have it set exactly. How much of a delay would you be looking at? It might vary from a few seconds, to most of a minute or even more. It will depend on the actual time, each step in the following list takes:

  1. How fast is the conversion from real sound in the studio, to electronic signals; performed by the local computer.
  2. How much trafic is on this computer.
  3. How fast is the radio station's internet connection, and how stabil is it.
  4. What sound quality is being streamed out from the radio provider. The higher quality, the more data need to be transferred, hence the more time it takes.
  5. How much resources does the ISP of the radio station have available on their server. This will be determined from the trafic on the server, the amount of data being handled, and the actual processor speed, RAM, Hard Drive speed and size of the server.
  6. How fast is the internet connection of the Streaming service. This applies to his incoming, as well as his outgoing, connections.
  7. How much trafic is on the streaming service providers server. How many are connected, how many streams do the server handle simultaneously, how well dimentioned is the server for this trafic.
  8. How fast is the conversion software of the streaming service.
  9. How fast is the internet connection of yours locally. This include your ISP's server and the trafic thereon.
  10. The kind, and quality, of the cables between all these computers and pieces of equipment.
  11. How busy is your computer, doing other stuff than just playing the stream. And how well is it dimentioned for this load of activity.

As you can see, there is several chances for small delays. Only fractions of a second on the different steps in the list, would add up to several seconds delay in the end. In addition, we would have to calculate the total distance the signal has to travel - from the studio to the local ISP, further on to the streaming service, from there to your local ISP, and finally from their server to your computer - all in all, it might be hundreds, or thousands of miles. This is specially the case, if your streaming service is located in another country. Imagine this scenario: You are sitting in Canada, wanting to listen to a station just cross the border, in the USA. In air span, this might only mean 100 miles (or some 160 km). This will basically be the distance your FM signals might have to travel. Thing is, you might be connecting to a streaming service, that is located in Germany, Europe, which might be as much as 5000, or even 10000km away. The signals will have to travel from the US, to Germany, and back to Canada, before they finally reach you. And, on their way, they will have to undergo several conversions, and security checks. The fact that you can listen to the stream this close to realtime, is no less than amazing. You might have little control over where the streaming service provider have their server located; although the above example might be of more extreme, and rare character. The fact that the stream has to undergo all these steps, and travel this far, does pose yet another chance of sound degradation. Depending on how good the cabling through all this travelling is, for instance, you might experience static noises that will have entered the sound on its way. Again, if you find the quality of one streaming service unsatisfactory, try see if you can find another provider. They might have shorter distance, better hardware, and more adequate software.


I stated earlier, that in cases where the radio station is being streamed through a streaming service that require login, MaPlEr is not capable of handling it. That is not exactly true. It is possible to work-around this, but the solution will not show up in the radio list, cannot be added to your favorite list, and the information will have to be entered for every connection. Furthermore, I cannot guarantee it to work in all cases. I therefore, have not been talking too much about it, and won't do so in this article. You can play with it on your own, if needed. It is found under the Extras menu, and is called FTP. It all depends on the way your streaming service has been set up.


It is my hope, this article has been of help to you. Although MaPlEr holds close to 3000 stations in its list today, there is several thousands of stations yet to be implemented. 13 countries are represented, but many more could have been in the list. You can add your own to your private list. If, on the other hand, you find stations that has general interest, holds a satisfying quality, and generally is stabil; you are always welcome to send the information to the Mar-Dy team, for implementation in future lists. MaPlEr is a sparetime project, and all the radio stations has been added by volunteer work. Hundreds of hours has been spent in finding, testing and adding the many stations so far. More addings will come, as time permits. Yet, even more time has been put into the project of developing, testing, releasing and distributing the software; all done by the Mar-Dy team in their sparetime. Enjoy your MaPlEr, and hopefully this article will have helped you doing so even the more.