CBC, HomePod, and Siri

There doesn’t seem to be a lot of information available on how to access CBC content using Siri on HomePod and HomePod mini, so I decided to put together a guide based on my experience and research. Last updated September 2023.

All results below are from tests on my 2018 HomePod stereo pair running HomePod Software Version 16.6 with the new Home architecture on September 2, 2023.

I bought my first HomePod in June 2018. I listen mostly to Apple Music, along with some podcasts — and CBC news and radio. More than half of my interaction with HomePod is via voice.

CBC has several pages addressing HomePod support:

  1. How can I use Siri to play CBC? (last updated circa mid- 2020)
  2. Do I have to enable anything on my Apple HomePod? (last updated circa 2019)
  3. How to play CBC Radio on your new smart speaker (December 2018)

Someone, somewhere — CBC, TuneIn, and/or Apple — seems regularly to be tweaking many of these commands, as there are changes every month. But there tend to be as many regressions as improvements.

Here’s a review of the commands provided on those pages, and their current status.

Page (above)“Hey Siri …”Result
1“… play CBC Radio.”In Vancouver: Failure, of a sort. June-August 2023, this played the Front Burner podcast. In September, it played CBC The World This Hour.

In Ottawa, 2023-03: Plays The Debaters podcast.
1“… play the latest news from CBC.”Success: CBC The World This Hour, as it was when I first started this page. Again, was playing Front Burner summer 2023 and previously played Quirks and Quarks.
2, 3“… play CBC Radio news.”Failure. Plays the podcast “Campus” but I’m not sure it’s the CBC one; the icon is different.
2, 3“… play CBC Radio 1.”Success. This had been playing CBC Radio One Vancouver until March 2023, when, oddly, I started to get CBC Radio One Victoria. Fixed a couple of months later.
2“… play CBC Radio Music.”Failure. Plays CBC Radio 1 Vancouver. New error as of August 2023; had worked previously.

In Ottawa, 2023-03: Plays The Debaters.

On the 2018 page (3), there is a video with Piya Chattopadhyay demonstrating the “play CBC Radio One” command. The video ends by promoting a url, cbc.ca/smart, which as of this writing only has instructions for Amazon Alexa.

Page (2) states “We will continue to work on our Apple implementation of the voice experience and will announce late in 2019 when it’s ready to go. Stay tuned!” Page (3) says “New experiences are coming in 2019.”

Communications with CBC

I wrote to CBC in June 2019, and received the following from CBC Audience Services:

“CBC Radio One is limited to the Ottawa feed on HomePod.  CBC Music is not officially supported on HomePod either. All a work in progress and changing constantly. We are continually working on improvements and upgrades on all digital platforms.”

There is a lot more CBC content Siri on HomePod can access besides Ottawa Radio One (see below). But since that message, CBC had stopped responding to emails or tweets on the subject until, quite unexpectedly, an email arrived July 11, 2022, which stated in part:

“This is a known issue which we are currently investigating. Please read the following CBC Help Centre article referring to this issue: NEW Issues connection to CBC Radio networks on internet devices [apparently updated in early 2023, though it doesn’t appear there were changes]. We do apologize for any inconvenience.”

It’s also unclear who has responsibility for ensuring that Siri can be used to access CBC content. The page sent to me above says to “reach out to the software support team for your device or service and ask them to contact CBC directly.” But is this TuneIn (the service that provides radio to Apple Music and hence via HomePod)? Apple? I replied with all of these questions, but in a response sent July 19, 2022, only got back “As the article link from our help centre says:” with the first and third paragraphs of the above page quoted, and “That’s all I can give you for the moment.”

It’s not clear whether by “this” they were referring to issues with HomePod in general — every time I email or tweet CBC I include a link to this page, but have no way of knowing whether they’ve looked at it — or some specific issue, perhaps the recent problem with CBC Music Vancouver.

Siri Command Reference

Particularly with the introduction of the HomePod mini, not to mention the second-generation full-size HomePod, these issues would seem to be a significant oversight on the part of CBC. But in the meantime, I’ve discovered through trial and error that there are other commands that work, over and above the few documented on the original web pages from 2018-20. I also looked at the TuneIn pages for CBC stations and music. The following is my analysis of what plays based on various commands. It’s worth noting that some results may be affected by my location, Vancouver; thanks to ThiefClashRoyale for doing some tests from Ottawa in March 2023. (I have omitted podcasts, since they can be asked for directly; some generic commands like “play the CBC news” happen to redirect to podcasts.)

“Hey Siri…”ResultNotes
“… switch to CBC news.”SuccessFixed as of September 2023, after months (years?) of being broken. Making this request will play The World This Hour when you ask “…what’s my update?”
“… play the CBC news.”SuccessAgain, fixed as of September 2023 — plays The World This Hour! It had played The World at Six podcast for a couple of months until the November 2022 update, when it started playing Quirks and Quarks, then switched to Front Burner in June 2023.
“… play CBC Music.”The World This HourWas playing CBC Radio One Vancouver for me in August 2022, perhaps based on my location; regressed to CBC Radio One Toronto in October 2022, then in February 2023 shifted to Montreal, then Vancouver in March 2023; as of June it started playing Front Burner and as of September, The World This Hour. What a mess!

In Ottawa: Plays CBC Radio Toronto.
“… play CBC Music Vancouver.”SuccessAppears to have been fixed as of August 8, 2022.

As of July-August 2022, I was getting Barbara Peatland: Canadian Composers Portraits. Starting around July 2022, resulted in “Now play CBC Music Vancouver, Provided by TuneIn. … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”

For a few weeks in May 2021, this no longer worked as CBC Music Vancouver disappeared from TuneIn. I tweeted at CBC and TuneIn and only TuneIn responded. They wrote, “CBC Music Vancouver have decided to restrict their stream within mobile device users only. This means CBC Music Vancouver can’t be accessed through smart speakers or receiver such as HomePod.” However, a week or so later the station had been restored to TuneIn. But this makes me wonder whether there might be a movement at CBC to try to force people to use their Listen app.
“… play CBC Music Halifax.”SuccessFixed some time between July and August 2022; for a time I got back, “Now playing CBC Music Halifax … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”
“… play CBC Music Edmonton.”SuccessFixed some time between July and August 2022; for a time I got back, “Now playing CBC Music Edmonton … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”
“… play CBC Music Winnipeg.”SuccessFixed some time between July and August 2022; for a time I got back, “Now playing CBC Music Winnipeg … Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music.”
“… play CBC Music Toronto.”CBC Radio One TorontoWrong result, and with the 1974–1992 CBC logo. For a couple of years this played Norma Beecroft: Improvvisazioni Concertanti No. 1, From Dreams of Brass, Collage ’76, Jeu II, Accordion Play (Canadian Composers Portraits) [link].
“… play CBC Radio One.”SuccessIn Vancouver: In March 2023 had switched to Victoria; working as of May.

In Ottawa, 2023-03: Plays CBC Radio Victoria.
“… play CBC Radio One Vancouver.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One St. John’s.”SuccessSt. John’s, Newfoundland
“… play CBC Radio One Saint John.”SuccessSaint John, New Brunswick. In October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.
“… play CBC Radio One Kelowna.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Toronto.”SuccessStation artwork is, for some reason, the 1974–1992 CBC logo rather than the CBC Radio One logo that all the other stations use.

“… play CBC Radio One London.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Kitchener-Waterloo.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Halifax.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Moncton.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Edmonton.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Prince George.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Ottawa.”
In Vancouver: This was initially working, then for a while I was getting “I couldn’t find CBC Radio One Ottawa in your Apple Music library” and later The Debaters. First time I asked in April 2023 I got “Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music” but on subsequent requests it worked.

In Ottawa, 2023-03: fails. Siri can’t find it in Apple Music.
“… play CBC Radio One Winnipeg.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Sudbury.”SuccessIn October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.
“… play CBC Radio One Montreal.”SuccessIn October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.
“… play CBC Radio One Victoria.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Charlottetown.”SuccessIn October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.
“… play CBC Radio One Regina.”SuccessIn October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.
“… play CBC Radio One Fredericton.”SuccessIn October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.
“… play CBC Radio One Thunder Bay.”SuccessIn October 2022 I noticed that this is no longer listed on TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, but it still works.
“… play CBC Radio One Goose Bay”SuccessIn September 2022, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page for the first time in a few months, and discovered this station had been added. Bonus!
“… play CBC Radio One Barrie”SuccessAdded to TuneIn circa September 2022, but Siri wasn’t able to find it until the February 2023 update.
“… play CBC Radio One Kingston”No Lie (feat. Dua Lipa) by Sean PaulWas new to TuneIn some time in 2022 but couldn’t be accessed by Siri on HomePod at all until I got No Lie starting in March 2023, still playing as of July 2023. In May, it was Chance the Rapper: All Night (feat. Knox Fortune), then reverted to Dua Lipa.
“… play CBC Radio One Peterborough”SuccessIn October 2022, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, and discovered this station had been added — it resulted in an error until the November 2022 update.
“… play CBC Radio One Saskatoon”SuccessAdded some time in September 2022.
“… play CBC Radio One Sydney.”SuccessIn April 2023, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, and discovered this station had been added.
“… play CBC Radio One Windsor.”SuccessIn April 2023, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, and discovered this station had been added.
“… play CBC Radio One Calgary.”SuccessIn April 2023, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, and discovered this station had been added. Interestingly, in June 2023 I was testing all the channels and my HomePods were playing Windsor above; I asked for Calgary and on the first try it said it couldn’t find CBC Radio One Windsor-Calgary.
“… play CBC North Iqaluit”SuccessIn July 2023, I checked TuneIn’s Stream CBC page, and discovered this station had been added. Cool!

Interestingly, “… play CBC Radio One North Iqaluit” doesn’t seem to work.

There’s clearly some room for improvement here. CBC should at least fix the incorrect mappings. It’s unclear to me what the relationship is between an entity like CBC and Apple, but there’s a blurb and link on Apple’s Siri for Developers page for integration of a streaming service with HomePod (I don’t currently have an Apple Developer account, so I can’t view the page).

Please let me know if you have any updates or other information, and I will try to keep this page current.

20 thoughts on “CBC, HomePod, and Siri

  1. Thank you Chris!
    Wow, this is the best guide/tutorial for random IT issues that I’ve ever seen.
    Extremely well presented + very helpful – it addresses all the questions that come up and answers them.
    Thank you Chris for being so cool and sharing this with us.
    All the best from Hamburg/GER

  2. I used my HomePod mini to listen to cbc rádio Ottawa for the past year or so, occasionally I would get some other cbc radio station but since June 28 or 29 2022 when you say “ play cbc radio one” you no longer get cbc rádio Ottawa instead you get a random cbc station usually Toronto.

    Anyone knows how to get cbc Ottawa on HomePod?

    • As noted, “Hey Siri, play CBC Radio One Ottawa” has not been working for a while, at least for me; although this could have something to do with location — I’m in Vancouver.

  3. Hi – just found this and great. I too had problems with CBC Music Vancouver in 2021… which resolved itself via Tunein… but alas this past week or so, CBC Music Vancouver is no longer listed as available on Tunein and I did get a reply from TuneIn they were looking at it… just wondering if you had looked into this this month/year?

    • Hi Joe, I re-tested everything and updated the page just a few days ago. CBC Music Vancouver is still listed on TuneIn’s CBC Page, but I just noticed that if you select it, there’s a message “This station is not currently available.” So I’m still getting the error from Siri as noted (“Sorry, there was a problem with Apple Music”).

  4. Yep! This has all happened before – like a year ago – but they all seemed to correct it thought this time seems to hanging around. To me it feels like a licensing issue and just someone has forgotten to update things or such. I did email TuneIn and got this response:

    “Thank you for contacting TuneIn Support.

    We wish to inform you that, we have reached out to the broadcaster CBC, for a new stream that can help in providing a better listening experience. Meanwhile, your cooperation and understanding are highly appreciated. We will get back as soon as we have any further updates on this.

    It’s been a pleasure to assist you. “

    • My assumption has been that it’s someone just not putting in the work in mapping Siri commands to stations. But I have no evidence to back this up. It’s not clear who’s responsible: CBC, TuneIn, and/or Apple?

  5. I am in Ottawa and have similar but slightly different issues.

    “Hey Siri, Play CBC Music Halifax” —> “Here’s CBC Music Halifax provided by TuneIn”. Works.

    “Hey Siri, Play CBC Music Toronto” —> “Now Playing Norma ………”. Does not work!

    “Hey Siri, Play CBC Music Winnipeg” —> “Here’s CBC Music Winnipeg provided by TuneIn”. Works.

    “Hey Siri, Play CBC Music Edmonton” —> “Here’s CBC Music Edmonton provided by TuneIn”. Works.

    “Hey Siri, Play CBC Music Vancouver” —> “Here’s CBC Vancouver Halifax provided by TuneIn”. Works.

    It is my “local” (Eastern time zone) feed that does not work. I’m beginning to suspect that the HomePod uses Geodata and tries to access the local feed from a source that is not TuneIn….and that source no longer exists.

    Can anyone in a different time zone try the same thing and report their results.

  6. I just got a HomePod mini. I was hoping to use it to replace an Echo. Unfortunately, a must for me is streaming Radio One Ottawa.

    So I was able to start any local stream (Toronto, London, St. John’s, Vancouver), but it comes back with the error noted above when I ask for Ottawa. If I ask for Radio One (no city), it starts my personal “station” on Apple Music.

    I looked into how it works on different platforms. From an Apple point-of-view, there is no station for Radio One Ottawa in Apple Music on iPhone or on macOS. There is a station without a city (https://music.apple.com/ca/station/cbc-radio-one/ra.1388704969) but it doesn’t start. Given the history on this page, this my theory for what happened; Radio One (no city) streamed Ottawa, before the local feeds were available. Once the local feeds came online, they broke the ‘no-city’ stream, but didn’t follow the steps needed to get Ottawa to work with Apple Music.

    Note that on the Echo and in the TuneIn app, CBC Radio One Ottawa works fine. Something between CBC and TuneIn, or between TuneIn and Apple is broken. I’ve put in a ticket with CBC Support. We’ll see what comes of it.

    • Thanks for this. I suspect your theory is correct. Let me know if you hear anything back from CBC, and I’ll add it to the page.

      • I also put in a ticket with TuneIn. They just got back to me, said it’s a problem on Apple’s side and that they will work with them. Who knows if it go any further.

        • Just found this page after fighting with this for months. I submitted a feedback form to apple and cited this page.

          I know that Ottawa stopped working for a while in the CBC Listen iOS app at the same time as the “cityless” (Ottawa) TuneIn link stopped working. I’m wondering if CBC changed some reference on their side that broke it everywhere.

          That said, I’m pretty sure this is a problem on Apple’s side. They need to add all of the city stations to Apple Music for them to work properly.

          • Interesting that there may be a correspondence with the Listen app. If it is Apple, I wonder why they’d take the time to remove CBC Radio Ottawa from Apple Music.

          • Chris – I couldn’t reply to your below comment for some reason

            I don’t think it ever was in Apple Music. I think the old URL was mapped to “Generic” CBC Radio One, so it just worked before by coincidence. When they started mapping specific cities maybe they just skipped Ottawa because it was already mapped, and then when CBC changed the URL they never fixed it?

            Anyways, I think they may have fixed it! It seems mapped in Apple Music now, and when I ask Siri on my phone for “CBC Radio One Ottawa” it works!

            If anyone else wants to give it a try…

  7. CBC radio 1 Winnipeg not playing or skipping / repeating on HomePod (new), not playing on iPhone or through Music. Non Apple seems okay, have contacted friends across country, mixed results. Het SIRI play cbc radio 1 – plays my music library, second attempt plays broken repeating feed – March 17 to 19 2023 ongoing

  8. Chris

    The past week I have been experiencing skipping when playing CBC Music (Vancouver) through TuneIn to any Apple device (HomePod Mini, iPhone) and just wondering if you are experiencing the same?

    I sent a note to TuneIn and I assume someone will at some point fix it but like all the issues in this environment, I don’t think its a direct action and just the result of them doing regular maintenance etc… seems at least once a year around this time, something goes oddly weird…


      • I’ve tried testing that out through different setups and its the same. It plays for a bit but then skips back about 10 seconds… does this until the playing just stops and it errors out. It plays fine within the CBC Music app itself but of course… that does not play through Apple Music to the HomePod(s)

        Also testing directly through the TuneIn web site and that seems to be OK…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *