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Downloading NPR–Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz (and other NPR shows)

November 27, 2011

[This post is wildly off-topic for this blog, but in the hopes that others might find it useful I decided to post it nonetheless.  It is also a convenient bookmark for me.]

marian_mcpartlandSince 1978, pianist Marian McPartland has been hosting a show called Piano Jazz, and the last year has featured broadcasts or re-broadcasts with guests as varied as Willie Nelson, Bill EvansDr. John, Dave Brubeck, Bela Fleck, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, etc.  You can search for particular artists here or read through the archives here.  Almost all shows features an hour-long musical interview, with plenty of selections played by the artist and McPartland (or guest host.)

The show is produced by the South Carolina Educational Radio Network and distributed by NPR (National Public Radio.)

npr_music_logoBut how can you download these shows?  NPR only offers an “NPR Media Player” flash implementation, that does not seem to allow direct download.

Fortunately, there is a shortcut for downloading the MP3s (which are usually nicely encoded at 128kbps) – you can simply navigate your browser directly to the file

where YYYY is the year of broadcast, MM is the month of broadcast (as a two digit number, beginning with a zero for January through September), and DD is the day of broadcast (as a two digit number, beginning with a zero for the first through the ninth of the month).  Once it is playing in your browser, you can simply “save file” to save the MP3 on your computer.

Thus for example, the current Piano Jazz show featuring Herbie Hancock was broadcast on November 25, 2011, as we can determine from its web page; and we can find the MP3 at

and the show on Billy Childs was broadcast on February 4, 2011; and we can find the MP3 at

No shortage of interesting musical selections to browse!

(The exception I have found to the above rule are

However, these are the only irregular URLs I have found to date of Piano Jazz.)

Piano Jazz

In general, if you are interested in downloading a program or concert from the NPR Media Player, you can discover its source URL through this method (which I adapted from here).  Frankly, there are a fair number of steps here, but it always works for me:

NPR uses a Flash front end to play media files, but you can find out which files the player is requesting. You will need a web browser that is capable of showing you what URLs are being requested, or a plugin that does the same. The examples here involve Google Chrome.

  1. In Chrome, open the NPR home page. In a new tab, open Chrome’s Internal Network Tools by entering chrome://net-internals in the address (URL) bar.
  2. Click the Events tab in the Tools window.
  3. Enter npr in the filter box.
  4. Switch back to the NPR home page and find the audio you want to download. Click the link that opens the media player with the content you want to download.
  5. Switch back to the Tools-Events window. The log should be full of requests to various NPR servers. You are looking for a URL that looks like this:,audio,show&sort=assigned&apiKey=xxx (other information will appear where xxx is indicated in this URL). Copy the URL and open a new tab and paste it in.
  6. You will see an XML file appear. About halfway down, you’ll find an audio container with a link to an MP3 in it. This is the program you want to download. The URL will look like this: (again, the xxxs will be replaced with actual program information).  You can ignore the entries after the question mark.
  7. Copy and paste the MP3 URL into another tab. Chrome’s MP3 player will start to load the audio and play it.
  8. Right click in the background area of the player and choose Save As…, give the file a descriptive name and press Save. The download appears in the status bar. You can close the MP3 player or keep listening.
  9. Once the download is complete, you will have your copy of the program. Load it into your favorite software or hardware player and you can listen any time you want without being connected to the Internet.
6 Comments leave one →
  1. Thanks permalink
    September 17, 2013 3:28 pm

    Wonderful! Thanks– I have been waiting 25 years for something like this.. Ive lost some I taped from the air (yes, cassettes), and many were unavailable on CD

    RIP Mrs. McP.

  2. August 4, 2014 4:58 pm

    I notice some are not available, like Dudley Moore, for instance. Wikipedia says he was on in 82, but I’ve seen references to that show winning a Peabody in 83. Any idea where to find that one?

  3. August 17, 2014 5:09 am


  4. August 17, 2014 5:11 am

    @ Ken Godfrey
    Recording dates:
    1. Wikipedia:
    2. NPR:

  5. Patricia permalink
    June 15, 2019 10:45 am

    Wow!! Thanks so much! I’ve hoped these would be released, perhaps as a fund raiser benefit, but this will help while I wait!

  6. May 14, 2020 8:03 pm

    Although this works for many episodes, their are some Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz programs that are listed with incomplete date information. One of the programs I am interested in (Jess Stacy) is listed with no date information and the other program (Art Hodes) is listed with a year and no month or day. I actually tracked down the dates for both of these programs by contacting South Carolina Public Radio, which was the home for Marian McPartland’s Piano Jazz:

    Jess Stacy – June 20, 1982
    Art Hodes – October 10, 1984

    When I plug in these dates using the method described above, I get a page without the audio that only says: “No video with supported format and MIME type found
    Any suggestions? Many thanks

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