Podcasting — the process of automatically recording audio from a feed and transferring it to a portable audio player — is
big. Buzz-worthy as it may be, however, it’s still in its infancy. In its purest form, the scheme requires that audio is pushed to your computer (and from there, to an iPod) from an RSS-feed, yet feeds that contain material that most people would be interested in listening to are sorely lacking (not surprising, given how new this notion is).
Assured though I am that a wealth of material will eventually be fed to us, I wondered how I might automatically move some of the streaming audio I currently enjoy through my Mac to my iPod. I found the solution in Rogue Amoeba’s $32
Audio Hijack Pro 2.1. Here’s how I went about it.
I travelled the web and grabbed a few files that, when launched, stream audio through Windows Media Player (you can do the same thing with Real Player files). For example, if you click on the Program Stream link on
NPR’s homepage, a file called npr250.wax downloads to your computer. Double-click on this file and Windows Media Player launches and NPR’s stream begins playing. Cool, so now I have a stream.
I then launched Audio Hijack Pro and created a new schedule. I chose Windows Media Player as the source application, enabled the Open URL/File/AppleScript option, and dragged my npr250.wax file into the field below. In the Schedule area I asked Audio Hijack to record the stream Monday through Friday from 10 to 11 PM so I could listen to Terry Gross’
the next morning.
I clicked the program’s Recording button and, from the format menu chose MP3 Medium (which records at a setting of MP3, CBR 128 kbps, stereo). From the Files section I clicked on the Scripts menu that appears next to the When Finished Recording entry and chose Add to iTunes Library.
So, what will happen?
At 10 PM on every work day, Windows Media Player will launch and stream Fresh Air. Audio Hijack will record the program as an MP3 file and, when finished recording, transfer the file to my iTunes Music Library. When I get up the next morning and sync my iPod, the latest Fresh Air is ready for listening while I’m on the go.
As I mentioned earlier, such a technique is useful because you have access to a far greater variety of audio than is currently being pushed to players. The disadvantage is that, like a TiVo DVR, you’re restricted to recording one thing at a time — from 10 to 11 every night, it’s Fresh Air for me. If, during the same time, KPIG is streaming something I desperately want to play on my iPod, I have to make a choice.
Podcasting is cool — and is bound only to get cooler. In the meantime, techniques like this can bring you the music and audio you want.