Radio review: Food for the soul

Nuala McCann

Soul Music Radio 4

The Untold Podcast

The Poetry Programme RTÉ 1

It's coming on Christmas

They're cutting down trees

They're putting up reindeer

And singing songs of joy and peace

Oh I wish I had a river

I could skate away on...

This Christmas, I fell in love with this old Joni Mitchell song, melancholy as it is.

Soul Music takes a song and tells powerful stories around it. The first was Joni's own story – how she had polio as a child and was quarantined. She was in a room with a boy who died. She prayed to the Christmas tree.

There were other truly beautiful stories linked to that song – stories of love and longing to be far away.

You can catch up on iPlayer – this is one series not to miss.

But there are many you shouldn't miss. Anything by Falling Tree Productions promises a treat for the ears.

This year, I heard Wide East Anglian Sky, about Norwich, rich with the smell of chocolate from the Rowntree factory, evensong in the cathedral and stories of monks playing hide and seek.

Then there is Desert Island Discs. Lauren Laverne brings a different vibe to it – she had big shoes to step into and anything new takes time, but it's a tried and tested formula that never fails to deliver.

The beauty of podcasts is that you get what you want, when you want it – and from true crime to true comedy, there is a wide world out there to choose from.

At the top of their game are journalists like Grace Dent who's behind the Untold, gripping and gritty true life stories.

Me, Dad and Dementia was the story of how Amanda fought to get 24-hour care for her 96-year-old father, it was heart breaking.

To ease the heart, tune into RTÉ 1 for a wealth of art and culture. Try Sunday Miscellany – an Irish weekend institution – or enjoy the Poetry Programme presented by Olivia O'Leary.

It's food for the soul and it's for everyone who loves poetry and those who just don't know it yet.

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