Best of 2014: Radio preview

Fiona Sturges picks this year's must-hear radio

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The Independent Culture

African Music Weekend

This two-day extravaganza includes a documentary by presenter Gemma Cairney on her trip to Mali to join the music collective Africa Express as they record an album in a makeshift studio in Bamako. 18 to 19 January, BBC6 Music

Freedom Songs: The Voice

Part of the BBC’s cross-platform Freedom2014 season, this five-part series finds presenter Rebecca Kesby travelling to South Africa, Croatia and around the UK to see how oppressed people have expressed their political and social dissent through song. From 4 February 8pm, BBC World Service

18th Century Season

Another multi-platform motif, this major new season will focus on the art and music of the 18th century. Radio 3 will form the backbone of the radio programming, with possible docs on Handel’s Messiah and the rise of the fashionable English Oratorio. BBC Radio 3

World War One Season

Among the many documentaries, dramas and essays marking the centenary of World War One, Radio 4’s Day by Day chronicles the run-up to war, Radio 3 and World Service pair up for The War That Changed The World, in which Amanda Vickery explores the effects of war on different countries, while Radio 2 tells the story of the flamboyant Welsh composer Ivor Novello in Keep The Home Fires Burning. Across BBC Radio networks

Mad About the Boy

The image of young girls screaming over pop idols gets a serious treatment here as journalist Jude Rogers and broadcaster Ruth Barnes investigate the empowering flipside of teen-pop culture and female fandom. Interviewees include East 17’s Tony Mortimer and Rogers’ Beatle-maniac mother-in-law. 28 January, 11.30am, BBC Radio 4

Re-imagining the City

The welcome return of the richly evocative programme in which writers and artists explore cities they have known and loved. Soweto Kinch will read his love-letter to Birmingham while Lavinia Greenlaw lays herself at the feet of London. BBC Radio 4