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, so I decided to put together a guide based on my experience and research.

I’ve used HomePod for almost three years. I listen mostly to Apple Music, along with some podcasts — and CBC news and radio. Probably 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)

Here’s a review of the commands provided on those pages, and their current status, tested on my 2018 HomePod running the latest operating system as of February 2021.

Page (above)“Hey Siri …”Result
1“… play CBC Radio.”The Debaters” podcast — seemingly random episodes with each request, although Siri often says “CBC Radio now playing” or “Okay, here’s CBC radio.”
1“… play the latest news from CBC.”The World This Hour” podcast
2, 3“… play CBC Radio news.”Quirks and Quarks” podcast
2, 3“… play CBC Radio 1.”Radio One (city uncertain)
2“… play CBC Radio Music.”Random episodes of “The Debaters” or “Afghanada;” once I got The Massey Lectures.

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.”

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.”

Has CBC abandoned HomePod support? Particularly with the introduction of the new HomePod mini, this would seem to be an oversight. But I’ve discovered through trial and error that there are other commands that work. I also looked at the TuneIn pages for CBC stations and music. (TuneIn is the service that provides radio via HomePod.) The following is my analysis of what plays based on various commands. (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.”“From now on, I’ll play the news from CBC.” (And plays the latest “World This Hour” podcast.)Subsequent requests to “… play the news” (without specifying a source) will play CBC news. Also, if you have news as part of your update (“… what’s my update?”) it will play CBC.
“… play the CBC news.”Quirks & Quarks podcast.(This was working properly when I first posted this page; by April 2021 it had become broken.)
“… play CBC Music.”CBC Radio OneNot sure which city.
“… play CBC Music Vancouver.”Success
“… play CBC Music Halifax.”Success
“… play CBC Music Edmonton.”Success
“… play CBC Music Winnipeg.”Success
“… play CBC Music Toronto.”Norma Beecroft: Improvvisazioni Concertanti No. 1, From Dreams of Brass, Collage ’76, Jeu II, Accordion Play (Canadian Composers Portraits) [link]Interesting error.
“… play CBC Radio One.”SuccessIs this the Ottawa station?
“… 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
“… play CBC Radio One Kelowna.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Toronto.”Success
“… 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.”“I didn’t find CBC Radio One Ottawa on Apple Music.”This may be the default station played using “Hey Siri, play CBC Radio One.”
“… play CBC Radio One Winnipeg.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Sudbury.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Montreal.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Victoria.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Charlottetown.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Regina.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Fredericton.”Success
“… play CBC Radio One Thunder Bay.”Success

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 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.

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