In the contest to replace Chris Evans from his BBC2 Radio breakfast programme, Zoe Ball has beat out Sara Cox, wondering ‘will the anxiety dreams ever stop?’ In anticipation of taking on the big role.
From January, the early morning shows will be presented by Zoe, who from March 2017 has been otherwise occupied doing Saturday afternoons. Cox will continue on the late night 8-10pm slot and Evans is trotting off to Virgin Radio.
What does all this schedule shifting mean, though, really? Well, Ball’s been deemed fit to wake up the nation - a whopping 9 million people tune in to listen to the BBC2 Radio Breakfast Show at the moment, and it’s expected most will remain loyal to the station and its song selections over the presenter.
That’s extra special when you consider she is the first ever female presenter of the BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast show, just like she was the first ever female presenter of BBC Radio 1’s Breakfast Show in 1997. That a woman, rather than a man, is going to talk on the radio at a certain time shouldn’t be such a huge deal. Great presenter gets great presenting job, sure. But for this to previously have been a male-only slote implies that there’s something insufficient about a woman’s presenting. The implication is that Ball’s got a huge mission ahead of her to convince people that women’s voices, banter, music selection and ability to present - are just as great as men’s. Lord knows Ball managed to host Radio 1’s Breakfast Show at height of her Ladette years of partying at the Met Bar every night, and now says ‘I can’t really remember how long I did it for because it was the 90s’, she can surely do it now.
However, despite Ball having an arguably larger task ahead of her, what’s glaringly noticeable is that she won’t be paid anything like the £1.6 million salary Evans was cashing in.
Ball told the BBC: ‘I’m definitely not expecting the same [salary]. We have discussed fees and I’m very, very happy with what the BBC is paying me. If it comes out one day – and these things tend to – then I’m hoping people will say “that’s fair”’. Evans announced his departure from the BBC pretty soon after the BBC, alongside all other big companies in the UK, was forced to disclose its salaries for top earners in a bid to show just how wide the gender pay gap can be. The result was that Evans was racking up the most money of any man at the Beeb, besides Gary Lineker, and nearly five times as much as the broadcaster’s highest-paid woman (Claudia Winkleman, at a relatively paltry £370,000 a year). Perhaps, if Ball manages to maintain the same dedicated audience Evans did, she should get paid the same? On the other hand, does anyone really need £1.6 million per year for a radio show?