Radio review: Perfect listening for the festive season

Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann

Nuala McCann is an Irish News columnist and writes a weekly radio review.

Nuala McCann
Nuala McCann

The Signalman Radio 4

Sunday Miscellany RTÉ Radio 1

Now You’re Asking Radio 4

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Radio 4

You might call it a smorgasbord of offerings – there is plenty of choice in radio land and a myriad of voices to accompany you through the season.

If you like to go a la carte then head for the websites and you’ll find radio featuring what you want when you want. I’d recommend anything by the wonderful Falling Tree productions.

Make time for RTE’s Sunday Miscellany – music and beautiful reflections on life that warm the heart. You’ll find their Christmas special on the website.

If real time is your thing, then turn on and relax. A favourite has to be Desert Island Discs.

On Christmas Day, you can hear a former presenter of the programme – Kirsty Young - share her thoughts about what makes this programme so special and get castaway herself by current presenter Lauren Laverne.

Also on Christmas Day, you can hear Dickens – just not A Christmas Carol.

The Signalman is a ghostly tale about a railway worker who is disturbed by a stranger at his signal box beside a dark tunnel in the middle of nowhere.

Dickens was looking back to the Staplehurst train disaster of a year earlier when he wrote this story.

Ten people were killed and he himself was caught up in it. He was so deeply traumatised that he avoided train travel after that and died five years to the day of the crash.

Like A Christmas Carol, there is a haunting – just right for misty wintry nights.

Today, Christmas Eve, listen out for Now You’re Asking with Marian Keyes and Tara Flynn.

This is a chatty fun series in which the pair try to find answers to listeners’ problems.

Marian who has been open about her struggles with depression would, given any opportunity, opt out of Christmas because of the unrealistic expectations surrounding it.

Tara, on the other hand, sees it as a point of light in dark winter.

For poetry lovers everywhere, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening – the mysterious Robert Frost poem where nothing actually happens but everything does – is the focus of exploration on Christmas night.

What is it about it that catches our imagination? Is that the tinkle of harness bells? You might just find the answer here.