How to Play Music, Audio Books, and Podcasts over Your Car Radio

How to Play Music, Audio Books, and Podcasts over Your Car Radio

Learn how to “pack”  a variety of music, books, and podcasts into a small digital space and listen to them over your radio, even in an older car.

We just returned from a 15-day road trip. For this particular trip, we didn’t have an inch to spare inside our older van as we took our daughter’s things up to her. The van also didn’t have an auxiliary input and the CD player has developed issues lately, like not ejecting the CDs!

Before heading out, I “packed” books, music, and various talks in digital form for our 3,500+ road trip from Florida to Minnesota and back again.


Borrowing Audio Books and eBooks

I use the OverDrive app to connect through my library card to Orange County library. I downloaded a digital book for free to my Kindle Fire for a three-week loan. I read it aloud to Mike while he drove.

I could’ve downloaded an audio book, too, and listened to it through earphones myself or through the car stereo for both of us (see next section about music and podcasts). My tablet gets too hot when playing audio books, unfortunately, so I don’t do audio books this way. (Remember, heat shortens your battery’s life.) Maybe your tablet can handle audio books.

(Another obvious advantage of using OverDrive, is not losing a library book on a trip.)

Music and Podcasts

For Newer Cars

In our newer car with an auxiliary input, I use this audio cable to plug an MP3 player or a tablet directly into the car. (Follow the link to see it.) The device will then play over the car stereo.

For Older Cars

We drove our 2005 Sienna van, so an FM transmitter was the solution.

FM transmitter

In order to play MP3s or podcasts from my MP3 player (or from a phone or tablet) through the car’s speakers, we own a $14 FM transmitter very similar to this one.

Using an FM Transmitter

Here’s how to use an FM transmitter:

  • Plug the device into your cigarette lighter (notice, too, the handy USB port for charging devices)
  • Plug your player, phone, or tablet into the jack.
  • Use the transmitter to find a random unused FM radio signal.
  • Turn on your car radio.
  • Tune the radio to the signal.
  • Your MP3 player will play through your car’s speakers.

Using an FM transmitter enables you to “pack” a lot of music without taking a stack of CDs.

You’ll adjust the transmitter and your radio to a new signal if you approach a city that is transmitting on the signal you’re using. We just didn’t bother to use it while driving in large cities.

Troubleshooting Audio Downloads

Many sites and podcasts allow you to download an MP3 audio file, Ted Talks, for example, has this feature.

What do you do if a site doesn’t offer a download of an MP3 file? Here’s some steps, using the audio version of a talk by Al Mohler at this year’s Ligonier conference. Follow along, using the link as an example to learn how to do this.

Source code showing the MP3 audio file URL address

If you want to download an MP3 version of the talk:

  • Make sure you’re on the web page for the audio version, not the video version.
  • Right-click on the page.
  • Choose “view page source” to see the source code for the page.
  • The source code page may open in a new tab. (The page will look like gobbledygook to you.)
  • Chrome has three vertical dots in the upper right. Click on them.
  • Click on “find”.
  • Type “mp3” in the little find window.
  • Use the arrows to locate the “mp3” in the source code. (In this case, I found four of these occurrences. I highlighted one for you in the above image of the source code. Click here for larger view.)
  • Copy the entire address. (Copy a URL beginning with “http:” and ending with “.mp3.”  Click here for larger view.)
  • Paste the address into a tab in your browser.
  • Open the address and you’ll see only the audio file available in a small player. (See screenshot at the bottom of this list.)
  • Now right-click on the page with the player and use “save as” to download the audio file to your computer.
Small audio player

Is this post helpful for your commute or your next long trip?


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