Beat Android App


Beat will give you the last 24hrs of tracks played on any of the major national radio station in South Africa.

The idea

I needed a proof of concept for a platform I'm working on called Isivuno. The platform is there to help me roll out my entrepreneurial ideas quicker and easier. And this is it. Apart from some shortcomings in the platform, building this app uncovered some serious problems in the state of radio in South Africa. I didn't think it would be this hard to get the data I needed.

The execution

At first I was excited as I noticed GoodHope FM was showing up in my car radio with track info. So I purchased an FM tuner breakout board with an RDS decoder. "Radio Data System (RDS) is a communications protocol standard for embedding small amounts of digital information in conventional FM radio broadcasts. " - Wikipedia

I've encountered RDS before in the UK and read an article which stated that ZA was trialling it way back in 2008 or 2009. Turns out GoodHopeFM was the only station in the Western Cape and Jacaranda in Gauteng to actually have RDS enabled or working. Urrgh!

So the next step was to move to online streams. After a bit of research I discovered that the streams are meant to include the track playing info. Most stations offered this feature on their sites and almost all were offered by the provider AntFarm. Not one of the streams however embedded or exposed meta data of the track currently playing. So this wasn't going to work. After spending way too much time I ended up retrieving the data from the websites which are about 70-80% stable. Seems the different platforms supplying the playlist data to the different websites go down quite often.

So in the end the app works as well as it can under the circumstances. Would be great if the broadcasters could upgrade their systems or at least get their streams in order. But for a proof of concept this will have to do.

Get it on Google Play



mobile app