Created: 2008-09-24 11:51
Updated: 2019-02-26 04:12
License: mit


Command line internet radio player.

Ben Dowling -

Table of contents


  • python 2.6+/3.2+
  • MPV, MPlayer or VLC installed and in your path.
  • socat (if you wish to use MPV)


The best way to install PyRadio is via a distribution package, if one exists (e.g. Arch Linux and derivatives can install pyradio-git from AUR).

In any other case, and since PyRadio is currently not available via pip, you will have to build it from source.

Command line options

$ pyradio -h

usage: pyradio [-h] [-s STATIONS] [-p [PLAY]] [-u USE_PLAYER] [-a] [-ls] [-l]
               [-t THEME] [-scd] [-ocd] [-d]

Curses based Internet radio player

optional arguments:
  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -s STATIONS, --stations STATIONS
                        Use specified station CSV file.
  -p [PLAY], --play [PLAY]
                        Start and play.The value is num station or empty for
  -u USE_PLAYER, --use-player USE_PLAYER
                        Use specified player. A comma-separated list can be
                        used to specify detection order. Supported players:
                        mpv, mplayer, vlc.
  -a, --add             Add station to list.
  -ls, --list-playlists
                        List of available playlists in config dir.
  -l, --list            List of available stations in a playlist.
  -t THEME, --theme THEME
                        Use specified theme.
  -scd, --show-config-dir
                        Print config directory location and exit.
  -ocd, --open-config-dir
                        Open config directory with default file manager.
  -d, --debug           Start pyradio in debug mode.

The following options can also be set in PyRadio's configuration file:

  • -s - parameter default_playlist (default value: stations)
  • -p - parameter default_station (default value: -1)
  • -u - parameter player (default value: mpv, mplayer, vlc)
  • -t - parameter theme (default value: dark)


                  Main window                               Playlists window                   Themes window
PgUp/PgDown       Change station selection                  Change station playlist            Change station theme
g                 Jump to first station                     Jump to first playlist             Jump to first theme
<n>G              Jump to n-th / last station               Jump to n-th / last playlist       Jump to n-th / last theme
p                 Jump to playing station                   Jump to playing playlist           -
Enter/Right/l     Play selected station                     Open selected playlist             Apply selected theme
r                 Select and play a random station          Re-read playlists from disk        -
Space/Left/h      Stop/start playing selected station       -                                  -
Space             -                                         -                                  Apply theme and make it default
-/+ or ,/.        Change volume                             [Valid]                            [Valid]
m                 Mute / unmute player                      [Valid]                            [Valid]
v                 Save volume (not applicable for vlc)      [Valid]                            [Valid]
o s R             Open / Save / Reload playlist             -                                  -
DEL,x             Delete selected station                   -                                  -
t T               Load theme / Toggle transparency          [Valid]                            [Valid]
?                 Show keys help                            [Valid]                            [Valid]
#                 Redraw window                             [Valid]                            [Valid]
Esc/q             Quit                                      -                                  -
Esc/q/Left/h      -                                         Cancel / close window              Cancel / close window

Config file

PyRadio upon its execution tries to read its configuration file (i.e. ~/.config/pyradio/config). If this file is not found, it will be created. If an error occurs while parsing it, an error message will be displayed and PyRadio will terminate.

The file contains parameters such as the player to use, the playlist to load etc. It is heavily commented (as you can see here), so that manual editing is really easy. The best practice to manually edit this file is executing PyRadio with the -ocd command line option, which will open the configuration directory in your file manager, and then edit it using your preferable text editor.

The file can also be altered while PyRadio is running. This process is transparent to the user; PyRadio will save the file before exiting (or in case Ctrl-C is pressed) if needed (e.g. if a config parameter has been changed during its execution).

About Playlist files

PyRadio reads the stations to use from a CSV file, where each line contains two columns, the first being the station name and the second being the stream URL.

Optionally, a third column can be inserted, stating the encoding used by the station (more on this at Specifying stations' encoding).

PyRadio will by default load the user's stations file (e.g. ~/.config/pyradio/stations.csv) to read the stations from. If this file is not found, it will be created and populated with a default set of stations.

Tip: If you already have a custom stations.csv file, but want to update it with PyRadio's default one, you just rename it, run PyRadio (so that the default one get created) and then merge the two files.

Note: Older versions used to use ~/.pyradio as default stations file. If this file is found, it will be copied to use's config directory (e.g. ~/.config/pyradio) and renamed to stations.csv or if this file exists, to pyradio.csv. In this case, this file will be the default one.

Specifying a playlist to load (command line)

PyRadio will normally load its default playlist file, as described above, upon its execution. A different file can be loaded when the -s command line option is used.

The -s option will accept:

  • a relative or absolute file name.
  • the name of a playlist file which is already in its configuration directory.
  • the number of a playlist file, as provided by the -ls command line option.


To load a playlist called "blues.csv", one would use the command:

pyradio -s /path/to/blues.csv

If this file was saved inside PyRadio's configuration directory, one could use the following command:

pyradio -s blues

To use the playlist number, one would execute the commands:

$ pyradio -ls
Playlists found in "/home/user/.config/pyradio"
  1. hip-hop
  2. party
  3. stations
  4. huge
  5. blues
  6. rock
  7. pop
$ pyradio -s 5

Note: The default playlist to load can also be set in PyRadio's configuration file, parameter default_playlist (default value is stations).

Managing playlists (within PyRadio)

Once PyRadio has been loaded, one can perform a series of actions on the current playlist and set of playlists saved in its configuration directory.

Currently, the following actions are available:

One thing you may want to do is remove a station from a playlist, e.g. when found that it not longer works. You can do that by pressing "DEL" or "x".

Then, when this is done, you can either save the modified playlist, by pressing "s", or reload the playlist from disk, by pressing "R". A modified playlist will automatically be saved when PyRadio exits (or Ctrl-C is pressed).

Finally, opening another playlist is also possible. Just press "o" and you will be presented with a list of saved playlists to choose from. These playlists must be saved beforehand in PyRadio's configuration directory.

While executing any of the previous actions, you may get confirmation messages (when opening a playlist while the current one is modified but not saved, for example) or error messages (when an action fails). Just follow the on screen information, keeping in mind that a capital letter as an answer will save this answer in PyRadio's configuration file for future reference.

Managing "foreign" playlists

A playlist that does not reside within the program's configuration directory is considered a "foreign" playlist. This playlist can only be opened by the -s command line option.

When this happens, PyRadio will offer you the choice to copy the playlist in its configuration directory, thus making it available for manipulation within the program.

If a playlist of the same name already exists in the configuration directory, the "foreign" playlist will be time-stamped. For example, if a "foreign" playlist is named "stations.csv", it will be named "2019-01-11_13-35-47_stations.csv" (provided that the action was taken on January 11, 2019 at 13:35:47).

Specifying stations' encoding

Normally, stations provide information about their status (including the title of the song playing, which PyRadio displays) in Unicode (utf-8 encoded). Therefore, PyRadio will use utf-8 to decode such data, by default.

In an ideal world that would be the case for all stations and everything would be ok and as far as PyRadio is concerned, songs' titles would be correctly displayed. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

A lot of stations encode and transmit data in a different encoding (typically the encoding used at the region the come from). The result in PyRadio would be that a song title would be incorrectly displayed, not displayed at all, or trying to displaying it might even break PyRadio's layout.

Note: vlc will not work in this case; it presumably tries to decode the said data beforehand, probably using utf-8 by default, and when it fails, it provides a "(null)" string, instead of the actual data. So, you'd better not use vlc if such stations are in your playlists.

PyRadio addresses this issue by allowing the user to declare the encoding to use either in a station by station mode or globally.

Station by station encoding declaration

As previously stated, a PyRadio's playlist can optionally contain a third column (in addition to the station name and station URL columns), which declares the station's encoding.

So, when a non-utf-8 encoded station is inserted in a playlist, its encoding can also be declared along with its other data. The drawback of this feature is that an encoding must be declared for all stations (so that the CSV file structure remains valid). To put it simple, since one station comprises the third column, all stations must do so as well.

This may seem intimidating (and difficult to achieve), but it's actually really simple; just add a "," character at the end of the line of each station that uses the default encoding. In this way, all stations comprise the third column (either by declaring an actual encoding or leaving it empty).


Suppose we have a playlist with one utf-8 encoded station:


Now we want to add "Station2" which is iso-8859-7 (Greek) encoded.

Since we know all stations must comprise the third (encoding) column, we add it to the existing station:


Finally, we insert the new station to the playlist:


Note: Using the -a command line option will save you all this trouble, as it will automatically take care of creating a valid CSV file.

Global encoding declaration

PyRadio's configuration file contains the parameter default_encoding, which by default is set to utf-8.

Setting this parameter to a different encoding, will permit PyRadio to successfully decode such stations.

This would be useful in the case where most of your stations do not use utf-8. Instead of editing the playlist and add the encoding to each and every affected station, you just set it globally.

Finding the right encoding

A valid encoding list can be found (depends on python version):

Or use this URL

replacing 2.6 with specific version: 2.7, 3.0 up to current python version.

Player detection / selection

PyRadio is basically built around the existence of a valid media player it can use. Thus, it will auto detect the existence of its supported players upon its execution.

Currently, it supports MPV, MPlayer and VLC, and it will look for them in that order. If none of them is found, the program will terminate with an error.

MPV will be used only when the socat multipurpose relay is also installed.

Users can alter this default behavior by using the -u command line option. This option will permit the user either to specify the player to use, or change the detection order.


pyradio -u vlc

will instruct PyRadio to use VLC; if it is not found, the program will terminate with an error.

pyradio -u vlc,mplayer,mpv

will instruct PyRadio to look for VLC, then MPlayer and finaly for MPV and use whichever it finds first; if none is found, the program will terminate with an error.

Note: The default player to use can also be set in PyRadio's configuration file, parameter player (default value is mpv, mplayer, vlc).

Player default volume level

MPV and MPlayer, when started, use their saved (or default) volume level to play any multimedia content. Fortunately, this is not the case with VLC.

This introduces a problem to PyRadio: every time a user plays a station (i.e restarts playback), even though he may have already set the volume to a desired level, the playback starts at the player's default level.

The way to come around it, is to save the desired volume level in a way that it will be used by the player whenever it is restarted.

This is done by typing "v" right after setting a desired volume level.


MPV uses profiles to customize its behavior.

PyRadio defines a profile called "[pyradio]" in MPV's configuration file (e.g. ~/.config/mpv/mpv.conf). This profile will be used every time playback is started.





MPlayer uses profiles to customize its behavior as well.

PyRadio defines a profile called "[pyradio]" in MPV's configuration file (e.g. ~/.mplayer/config). This profile will be used every time playback is started.




PyRadio Themes

PyRadio comes with 6 preconfigured (hard coded) themes:

  1. dark (8 color theme). This is the appearance PyRadio has always had. Enabled by default.
  2. light (8 color theme). A theme for light terminal background settings.
  3. dark_16_colors (16 color theme). "dark" theme alternative.
  4. light_16_colors (16 color theme). "light" them alternative.
  5. white_on_black or wob (256 color b&w theme). A theme for dark terminal background settings.
  6. black_on_white or bow (256 color b&w theme). A theme for light terminal background settings.

The visual result of an applied theme greatly depends on the terminal settings (e.g. foreground and background color settings, palette used, number of colors supported, real or pseudo-transparency support, etc.)

Pressing "t" will bring up the Theme selection window, which can be used to activate a theme and set the default one.

Note: Themes that use more colors than those supported by the terminal in use, will not be present in the Theme selection window. Furthermore, if a such at theme is set as default (or requested using the "-t" command line option), PyRadio will silently fall-back to the "dark" theme (or the "light" theme, if the terminal supports 8 colors and default theme is set to "light_16_colors").

The Theme selection window will remain open after activating a theme, so that the user can inspect the visual result and easily change it, if desired. Then, when he is satisfied with the activated theme, the window will have to be manually closed (by pressing "q" or any other relevant key - pressing "?" will bring up its help).

The use of custom themes and theme editing is not implemented yet; theses are features for future releases.

Using transparency

PyRadio themes are able to be used with a transparent background.

Pressing "T" will toggle the transparency setting and save this state in PyRadio's configuration file (transparency is off by default).

Setting transparency on, will actually force PyRadio to not use its own background color, effectively making it to display whatever is on the terminal (color/picture/transparency). The visual result depends on terminal settings and whether a compositor is running.

When the Theme selection window is visible, a "[T]" string displayed at its bottom right corner will indicate that transparency is on.

Debug mode

Adding the -d option to the command line will instruct PyRadio to enter Debug mode, which means that it will print debug messages to a file. This file will always reside in the user's home directory and will be named pyradio.log.

In case of a bug or a glitch, please include this file to the issue you will open in github.

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