Using the BBC iPlayer Radio App

So far, we've shown you how to search for content on BBC iPlayer Radio, listen to pre-recorded programs, and download podcasts.  Now, we'll show you how to listen to BBC radio live, right on the iPlayer Radio website.  You can listen to all of the BBC's major stations across the United Kingdom, as well as local BBC branches, and even some non-BBC stations!

Doing so requires knowing how to use the BBC iPlayer Radio app.  Though there are versions of this application for your desktop or mobile device, there is also one that works right on the BBC iPlayer Radio website.  This lesson will give you a tour of how it works.

To start listening to live BBC radio through BBC iPlayer Radio

  1. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/radio in your web browser.  Click the Stations drop-down menu, and then click the logo of the BBC station that you want to start listening to. 

    Selecting a BBC iPlayer Radio station to listen to

    (NOTE: If you want to listen to a non-BBC station instead, don't worry.  This process is just a quick way to get the BBC iPlayer Radio app up and running, after which you can switch to any station that you like.)

  2. If the station that you selected is currently on air, click Listen Live to launch the BBC iPlayer Radio app and begin listening to that station.

    How to listen to a BBC iPlayer Radio station live

How to use the BBC iPlayer Radio app

  1. You should now have the BBC iPlayer Radio app open in your web browser.  Let's start by learning the commands below the header.

    BBC iPlayer Radio app main controls

    Click Favourite (the heart icon) to add or remove the current station from your "My Stations" list (we'll discuss this more in step 4).  Click the Play/Pause button to start or stop listening to the broadcast.  You can also click the Volume button to mute or unmute the player, or click on one of the sound wave graphics next to this button to adjust the player's volume.

  2. Click Schedule to see the programs being aired today for this station.  If a program has the BBC iPlayer Radio logo beside it, you can click the logo to listen to it without having to wait for it to come on the air!

    How to browse available stations and their schedules on the BBC iPlayer Radio app

    You can also click Stations to get a drop-down menu with other BBC stations that you can listen to.  Click on one to quickly switch to it.

  3. Underneath all this, you will see the program information.  You can click the green Share button and choose to share a link to this program over Digg, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Reddit, StumbleUpon, or Twitter.  (You will be asked to log into the service that you choose, if you are not logged in already.)

    How to share or find more information on the current BBC iPlayer Radio app program

    You can also click View Programme Page to go to the webpage for the current program on the BBC iPlayer Radio website.  For some programs, you may also be able to click More Episodes and select a different episode of the current program to listen to in the BBC iPlayer Radio app.

  4. Click the three bars in the top-left corner of the BBC iPlayer Radio app to browse other stations, through the use of four menus.

    How to browse other available BBC iPlayer Radio app stations

    My Stations shows you stations that you have marked as your "Favourites" (as described in step 1 of this section).  Recent shows you stations that you have listened to previously.  Recommended shows you stations that you might like, based on which ones you have previously listened to or have added to your "My Stations" list.  And A-Z List shows you an alphabetical list of all stations available for listening through the BBC iPlayer Radio app (click a letter underneath the menu — the "#" sign indicates station titles beginning with numbers — to skip to that part of the list).

    You can also click the Favourite icon beside any station to add it to your "My Stations" list (or remove it, if you are viewing your "My Stations" list).

  5. You can also click in the box labelled "Search U.K. Radio" and type in something specific that you're looking for. 

    How to search for BBC iPlayer Radio app stations and programs

    You can click results under "Suggested Stations" to go to stations whose names most closely match your search terms, or that have programs on right now whose names most closely match your search terms.  You can also click the results under "Suggested Catch Up" to listen to pre-recorded programs whose titles most closely match your search terms.

    If you don't see what you're looking for among the suggested results, click the magnifying glass icon to search for all results containing your search terms.

  6. If you decide for search for all results containing your search terms, you can use the menus underneath the search bar to filter your results.

    How to filter and access BBC iPlayer Radio app search results

    All shows you all station names, program names, or program descriptions that contain your search terms.  Live will only show you content that is on the air right now.  Catch Up only shows you pre-recorded content that you can listen to on demand.

    Click on a station name to begin playing that station, or the chosen program.  For content that is available live, you can click the Favourite button beside the result to add that station to your "My Stations" list (see step 4 in this section).

Those are the ins and outs of using the BBC iPlayer Radio app to listen to live UK radio!


Search for BBC iPlayer Radio Programs

So, we’ve already shown you how to browse for programs and podcasts on BBC iPlayer Radio.  But what if exploring all of your options is just a hassle and you want to just directly search for a program?  Fortunately, you can do that, and this lesson will show you how.

How to search for BBC iPlayer Radio programs

  1. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/radio in your web browser and click in the box that says “Search”.

    The BBC iPlayer Radio search box

  2. Start typing in words or names related to the program that you’re searching for.  As you do so, you will see the screen shift, and new options will appear. 

    BBC iPlayer Radio search suggestions

    If you see the name of a program that you wish to listen to appear as a suggestion, click it to go to its page.  You can also click the option below “A-Z” to search for all programs beginning with the first letter of your search terms.  Or, click the magnifying glass to search for programs that contain the exact key words that you typed in.

  3. All of your results will be displayed on one page.  You can use the filtering options across the top to see only results that match your key words and are:

    – Programs (or episodes of them) that are currently available for listening or download
    – Podcasts
    – Any program on BBC radio, whether or not they are available on iPlayer Radio

    How to filter and select BBC iPlayer Radio search results

    For programs, you can click on their names to go to their respective web pages, or click Show Available Episodes to see which episodes of that program are currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio.

    Episodes of programs that have the pink BBC iPlayer Radio logo beside them are available for listening right now.  Even if they don’t, they may still be available for downloading as podcasts (see our BBC iPlayer Radio Podcasts tutorial here).  Click on an episode’s name to go to its webpage.

  4. If you selected the “A-Z” option in step 2, you can also click one of the letters above the main search filters to only see programs whose titles begin with the chosen letter.  0-9 shows you all programs whose names begin with a number (e.g. “15-Minute Drama”), while ALL shows you all programs available on BBC iPlayer Radio.

    How to do an alphabetical search of BBC iPlayer Radio programs

That’s a quick overview of how to search for programs, episodes, and podcasts on BBC iPlayer Radio!


BBC iPlayer Radio Podcasts

What are BBC iPlayer Radio podcasts?

"Podcasts" are somewhat special variations of the programs that you can listen to on BBC iPlayer Radio.  The major difference between podcasts and the other content on BBC iPlayer Radio is that you can actually download podcast programs onto your computer.  This means that you can listen to them pretty much anywhere you take your computer, even if you aren't on the BBC iPlayer Radio website, or even connected to the Internet! 

Plus, you can sometimes set up podcasts to automatically download to your computer as soon as a new one becomes available!  This is a bit of an advanced function, though, so we're just going to stick to helping you find, listen to, and manually download podcasts from the BBC iPlayer Radio website.

How to browse for BBC iPlayer Radio podcasts

  1. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/radio in your web browser.  Click the Categories drop-down menu in the sub-header, and then click Podcasts.

    Browse BBC iPlayer Radio podcasts

  2. The easiest way to find podcasts that you're interested in is by scrolling down until you see the grid in the screenshot below.

    How to filter BBC iPlayer Radio podcast browsing results

    Then, you can simply click on the available options to filter the available podcasts according to which BBC station their program airs on, or what genre and subgenre their program belongs to.  If you've narrowed things down too far, click Clear Selection to reset all of your filters. 

    You can also search for podcasts according to keywords related to them by clicking in the box labelled "Search", typing in words or names associated with the (type of) podcast that you're looking for, and then clicking the magnifying glass icon.

  3. Podcasts that match your search filters or keywords will appear below the grid.  Simply click on one to go to the page for that podcast.

    How to select a BBC iPlayer Radio podcast to listen to

  4. Under "Episodes to Download", you will see a list of episodes of this program that are available to download as podcasts.  Click on one to go to its corresponding webpage.

    How to select a specific episode of a BBC iPlayer Radio podcast

How to listen to and download BBC iPlayer Radio podcasts

  1. Listening to podcasts works almost identically to listening to other BBC iPlayer Radio programs, so see the "How to Play BBC iPlayer Radio Programs" section of our How to Browse and Play BBC iPlayer Radio Programs tutorial if you need help with that.

  2. Underneath the player window — next to the Share, Favourite, and Love buttons — you should see a button that says Download MP3.  Click this to begin the process of downloading the podcast.

    Button for downloading a BBC iPlayer Radio podcast

  3. A save prompt should appear, asking how you would like to download this podcast.  Make sure the button beside "Save File" is selected (click it if it isn't), and then click OK.

    Prompt for downloading a BBC iPlayer Radio podcast

  4. Use the explorer window that pops up to navigate to the place where you'd like to save the podcast, and then click Save.

    Select location to download BBC iPlayer Radio podcast to

    (NOTE: If the explorer window doesn't show up and the download starts automatically, check your Downloads folder.)

  5. When your podcast finishes downloading, simply go back to your computer desktop, find where you saved the podcast, and double-click it to open it and play it anytime you want!

    How to open a downloaded BBC iPlayer Radio podcast

That's a brief how-to for podcasts on BBC iPlayer Radio!


Browse + Play BBC iPlayer Radio Programs

You don't need to sign up for an account or pay any money to listen to programs on BBC iPlayer Radio, so let's get right to it!  This tutorial will give you a quick tour of the BBC iPlayer Radio website, including how to browse its various sections to find the program that you want to listen to, and what you can do once you find that program.

How to browse BBC iPlayer Radio programs

  1. Go to www.bbc.co.uk/radio in your web browser.  In the sub-header, you will see a search box (we'll go over how to use it in our How to Search BBC iPlayer Radio tutorial) and some drop-down menus.

    Browse BBC iPlayer Radio content categories

    Ignore the Stations one for now; we'll get back to it when we show you how to listen to live radio in our How to Use the BBC iPlayer Radio App tutorial (here).  For now, you can click the Categories menu to show a list of program genres that you can browse; click All Categories to see a full list.

  2. You can also click the Schedules menu to see a list of all BBC stations.  Click on a station's logo to see previous, current, and upcoming programs for that station.

    Browse available stations on BBC iPlayer Radio

  3. You can also click to select programs directly from the Featured or Most Popular lists further down the page, or click More Featured or More Most Popular to see more of those types of programs.

    Access featured and popular content on BBC iPlayer Radio

  4. If you want to browse for BBC programs by category, you can use the options along the left-hand side of the screen to sort and filter your results.  (Note that not all options will be available at all times.)

    Sort and filter BBC iPlayer Radio content category results

    With the main filters, you can see all programs that are Available Now; Now and Next will show you programs that are available now and are coming up in the BBC's schedule (see step 5 for more on schedules).  Podcasts shows you programs that you can download to your computer and listen to whenever you want.  All Programmes will show you all programs that the BBC currently has available, including podcasts.

    The "Sort By" options allow you to sort programs by either alphabetical order or in order of the most recent episode that was aired.

    The "Filter By" filters allow you to narrow your browsing options according to sub-categories of programs.

    Click on a program to go to its page.

  5. If you select to see a BBC station's schedule, you can scroll up and down the screen to see what programs are airing at different times.  You can also use the calendar bar at the top (which will follow you up and down the screen as you scroll) to select which date you wish to see a schedule for.  The highlighted date is the one for which you are currently viewing a schedule; click a different date to switch to that day's schedule.

    Browse station schedule on BBC iPlayer Radio

    If a program has the pink BBC iPlayer Radio logo beside it, you can click on it to start listening to that program.  This will even work for some pre-recorded shows that have aired previously, even if they haven't yet aired that day!

How to play BBC iPlayer Radio programs

  1. Once you've made your way to the page of the program that you wish to listen to, click on the program's preview image to start playing it.  From there, you can press the Play/Pause button on the far left to start and stop the program, or click a part of the slider above to skip to a particular part of the program.  Beside the Play/Pause button, you can click the Volume button to mute or unmute the program, or move your mouse cursor over it and then click a point on the volume slider to adjust the volume.

    BBC iPlayer Radio program main controls

  2. You can also click the green Share icon and choose to share the current program over Digg, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Reddit, StumbleUpon, or Twitter.  (You will be asked to log into the service that you choose, if you are not logged in already.)  The blue Favourites button next to that will add this program to your "favourites", if you have a BBC iD account and are logged in.  The pink Love button next to that allows you to "love" this program and show support for keeping it on the air.

    How to share or love a BBC iPlayer Radio program

    One other thing to note: clicking the other black square here will play the current program in the pop-out BBC iPlayer Radio application.  We'll explain how to use this in detail in our How to Use the BBC iPlayer Radio App tutorial.

  3. To the right of the player, you can click the station under "Last On" to go to the page for the BBC station that this program was most recently aired on.  Beneath that, you can also click Previous or Next to try playing the previous or next episode of this program (though it may not always be available).  Finally, you can click See All Episodes from [X] to view a list of all episodes of that program.

    How to find other episodes of a BBC iPlayer Radio program

That's how to find and play pre-recorded programs on BBC iPlayer Radio!