Downloading MP3 Audio from NPR Radio

August 15th, 2010

So its been a while between posts, but I thought I’d post this quick how-to that I worked out a few days ago after trying to download Laura Marling’s recent appearance on World Cafe.

I’ve been trying to do this for a while, but as NPR have upgraded their player, many (if not all) guides out there on this topic no longer work. The new player requires the use of an additional API Key to get the MP3 link.

Here’s how to do it:

1) Install both Firefox (or Chrome?) and Firebug

2) load up the initial story page on NPR… something like :

3) Click on ‘Listen Now’ at the top of the page, and let the popup open

4) While on the popup window, Open Firebug (F12 on a PC), and click on the ‘Net’ Tab. If firebug doesnt open, either click on the address bar, and press F12 again, or click the little bug icon in the bottom right corner of the popup window.

5) clear your browser cache ( CTRL + SHIFT + DEL). (or else the browser wont bother getting the URL you want)

6) While Firebug is open, reload the page ( F5 )… (this will give us details of all the XML that the flash object requests)

7) On the ‘Net’ Tab, hover your cursor over each entry. Find the URL’s starting with There will be two - one gets the additional information for the page, and one gets the main information. The one you want will have the same id as the initial story page:

The Initial Story URL:

the XML URL:,audio,multimedia,parent,titles,teasers,dates,song,album,product&apiKey=MDAzMzQ2MjAyMDEyMzk4MTU1MDg3ZmM3MQ010

8) Notice the new apiKey field - the XML will not display without a valid apiKey! Open this XML URL in a new Browser tab, and Search for <mp3 type=”mp3″>, and your mp3 link will be below it! It should look something like:,122773665

9) if your having trouble saving it off, open it in a new tab and do Tools > Page Info > Media > Save As…

Its worth noting that if you know the broadcast date, and the name of the show, you could probably work out the links yourself - the first bit is static:

The last bit can be worked out from show name (World Cafe) and broadcast date (2010/08/06): wc/2010/08/20100806_wc_01.mp3


My Top 5 for 2009

December 31st, 2009

After 42 shows in 50 weeks, heres my top 5:

#1 - Bobby McFerrin @ Royal Festival Hall
for his playfulness, outstanding performance, and inspirational interaction with the audience.

#2 - Max Richter @ Union Chapel
for his beautiful melancholic music, and perfectionin performance.

#3 - Alex Lloyd @ The Troubadour
for the heartfelt simplicity of his songwriting and performance.

#4 - Andrew Bird @ Union Chapel
for playfully weaving beautiful melodies with little else but himself.

#5 - Fever Ray @ The Forum
for their eye poppingly slick production and dark ambience.

In particular, Bobby and Andrew and a particular Buckley-ish flavour to their shows, with their energy on stage, and musical playfulness. A special mention goes out to Noah and the Whale @ Crisis Hidden Gig, Tori Amos @ The Savoy, Bob Brozman @ The Half Moon, and Massive Attack @ Brixton Academy.


Fever Ray - HMV Forum, 5 December, 2009

December 28th, 2009

image by taken a while, but tonight faired as a strong contender for gig of the year. For a show I almost opted out of, its production took me completely by suprise, and knocked me off my feet. Fever Ray take production to a new level - their performance almost trancends itself.

The show was more like some mysterious ritual- incense, secret signs, symbolic numbers, and strange movements. The entire stage remained dark for the entire show, with a massive laser show above, and glowing and flickering lampshades on stage. Even when you could see more than silhouettes through the smoke, they were all wearing costumes and masks, clearly wanting to be taken at the value of their production, rather than as individuals.


image by iamtheloop on flicker.

Regina Spektor - Hammersmith Apollo, 4 December, 2009

December 21st, 2009

image by took to the stage with a drummer and string quartet for her second appearance in London this year. The previous gig at the Serpentine Sessions came across as a much smaller event from the back stalls we were sitting in, but realistically it was probably around the same amount of people. Naturally this time around she had sold out, as I imagine her latest album Far is getting some pretty good radio coverage.

As a song writer, Regina has fairly candid approach, both musically and lyrically, and this is probably why her fans connect with her so much; her style is similar to when we singing along with our favourite songs, and adding our own random flourishes and twists to. She’s just thought of them long before all of us, and put them into her songs.

Needless to say, she had a very enthusiastic audience, with many of the young people who couldnt attend the 18+ Serpentine Sessions. Everyone around me seemed to know the words, and I certainly dont know many other musicians who would have gotten such a positive reception to a 5 song encore as Regina did. Or for that matter, pulled off a string arrangement of Slash’s ‘November Rain’ solo…

So, overall it was an enjoyable gig - my gf is happy - just next time, I’ll have to get better seats…

some samples:

image by crazybobbles on flickr.

Tori Amos - Jazz Cafe, 2 December, 2009

December 21st, 2009

image by not every day you get the chance to see Tori in a tiny venue for free, so I jumped at the chance to queue for tickets early on the day of the gig. Tori was in fine form, in a slinky red dress, she performed almost completely new repertoire, including a few tracks from her seasonal ’solstice’ record ‘Midwinter Graces’. I never expected to hear Tori sing carols, or let alone enjoy them, but they are actually quite reasonable versions of lesser known carols.

Having stood in a queue since 6am, and then another 3 hours before Tori came on stage, I lacked the energy to pay due attention to the show, but having listened the to the recording, it was much better than I recall it to be. I’m bitterly disappointed to say tho, that my recording failed about halfway through, so I missed the climax and encore of the show, not to mention a few ‘Midwinter Graces’ tracks that may not be played again in a live context. As consolation, my gf did get to talk briefly to Tori’s husband, and even scored the tracklist for me! anyhow - heres a sample:


image by pagedooley on flickr.

Bob Brozman - Half Moon, 24 November, 2009

December 19th, 2009

image by into blues and guitar knows of prodigy Bob Brozman and his flying fingers. Having myself discovered him on youtube, I just had to see him in action. He came across as a normal guy, who mingled and drank with the audience before and after his sets. His hardworking ethic on stage was also evident, from setting up his own kit of 5-6 guitars, to playing with the ferver of a madman for over 2 hours.

He worked the crowd with wit and humour - something that also carried through his performance, often turning a melody or changing texture for comedic effect. He played a vast range of styles from places all over the world, which was quite refreshing.

The Half Moon as a venue may be forced to close by its owners, after 50 years as a music venue. If you feel like showing your support, go to a gig, and send your comments on their forum. The last thing London needs is 1 less independent music venue!

check out a few Bob samples:

image by albertof on flickr.

Laura Marling - Saint Pancras Old Church, 23 November, 2009

December 19th, 2009

images from seen Laura at Royal Festival Hall, and in a very crowded Hoxton Bar and Grill, I was not going to miss her in this tiny venue, holding no more than 100 seated fans. There is something special about a performer whose music can credibly travel between large and small venues, and still hold an audience to less than a whisper.

This tour, Laura was totally stripped back to her and her guitar. While I occasionally wanted for the warm accompaniments of Marcus Mumford, and the songs were slightly shorter with missing interludes, it was still sublime to hear her songs simplified, in their fundamental forms.

She performed most of the tracks from her debut album ‘Alas, I Cannot Swim’, but also a some new material from her next album, which sounds to be coming along nicely. I’m even happy to say one of my favourite tracks of hers (‘Blueberry Stone’) is not from her first album - hopefully it will mak an appearance on her new album?

heres a few samples:

image by timsnell on flicker.

Luka Bloom - Jazz Cafe, 14 November, 2009

December 18th, 2009

I went to this small gig as a farewell to our friends, as she has many memories and associations with Luka Bloom. This particular night, He was in typically fine form - starting early to squeeze in all of his 2 hour set, and rollicking along with much energy and banter with the audience - somewhat more than he gave at his last London gig at Bush Hall last year.

For such simple music, its incredible how enjoyable it is. From his crystal clean guitar sound, to his melodies and singing, theres alot to like. One of my friends called him ‘the Irish Paul Kelly‘, and I must admit, he’s got the same hard working, honest approach to music, which is a breath of fresh air. (Even if he was forced by some persistant fan to play ‘I Need Love’, which, understandably doesnt make an appearance often… :)

This recording is for Beth…

heres a sample from the night:


Andrew Bird - Union Chapel, 11 November, 2009

December 15th, 2009

Andrew quietly took to the stage, giving his rotary horn speaker a push into motion. He began playing what seemed broken melodies on his violin into his loop machine. As you suspended belief that the melodies could possibly work, or fit together in some way, you’d realize Andrew was thinking 4 or 5 layers ahead.

Between his precise and intricate violin playing and his sweet whistling, this was a live performance to behold. However much I enjoyed his latest recording, Noble Beast, he’s another musician who comes into his own on stage. Go check him out if your into folky stuff - he’s well worth witnessing!

heres some samples:

Heather Nova - Union Chapel, 6 November, 2009

December 11th, 2009

image from a whim, after weeks of deliberation, my gf and I decided to try our luck at Heather Nova’s only London gig on this tour. Initially I was apprehensive - during the second track I had a thought - Is she a parody of herself? the performance for a moment seemed ingenuine. This quickly passed though, and her prowess as a songwriter became more and more apparent as the music poured out of her. Her voice - beautiful and pure - set the words well. I’m glad to have heard her angelic voice and sweet music in person.

I’d provide you with samples, but cleverly, Heather Nova has had the brainwave to release ALL her shows on this tour as MP3, and as such, I strongly suggest you go and have a buy them:

image from :