Will the BBC be on the Ball replacing Chris Evans?

Opinion: Howard Kosky, CEO & founder of broadcast specialists markettiers4DC, shares his thoughts on Chris Evans moving to Virgin Radio.

It’s no surprise BBC Radio 2 is lining Zoe Ball up to fill the shoes of Chris Evans on the breakfast show. And what shoes they are to fill. Rumours Chris himself wanted a woman to replace him have been rife. More importantly, this is a perfect opportunity for the BBC to rack up some brownie points following the furore of pay gap-gate.

Zoe is an interesting transition. She won the hearts of the nation this year taking on her Sport Relief cycling challenge and opening-up about male mental health that sadly took the life of her partner Billy Yates. She’s been raw, honest and genuine, which struck a chord with millions of people who tuned in to her documentary on BBC One.

I do wonder though, did R2 decisively choose to overlook the big personalities on their books? The breakfast show is their flagship. The flagship that has been led by some of the biggest personalities in the industry. Did they go knocking on their blue-eyed boy, Graham Norton’s door? Was Jonathan Ross top of the list? Did both turn the offer down? Or, did they decide to set a new agenda with Zoe?

As it hasn’t been officially announced that she is taking the helm, I hope it’s because she’s locked in negotiation to see a pay increase from her £250-£300k* salary band, to be more in line with the rest of the highest paid male presenters. Rumour has it she’d be looking at the £1million mark.

Will the salary negotiations take longer than the time BBC Radio 2 producers have spent considering what Zoe will bring to the breakfast slot? She must follow in the footsteps of two of the most popular breakfast show hosts of all time – Chris and Sir Terry Wogan.

Will her regular BBC Radio 2 Saturday radio show listeners and Zoe Ball on Saturday and Sunday ITV viewers come along with her for the ride? Your weekday breakfast show listeners are not necessarily the same audience that tune in every Saturday afternoon.

Will her appointment see a new era for broadcast specialists BBC Radio 2? She’s the voice and face now 30-somethings remember seeing and listening to during their childhood on kid’s TV and as the first BBC Radio 1 female breakfast show host. Is there a nostalgic motivation that could encourage a rising number of this demographic to tune in?

It’s a decision producers won’t be taking lightly as they understand the power and influence their presenters have on setting the agenda for their audience. There has been a flurry of new breakfast show hosts announced in recent months – Greg James at BBC Radio 1, Lauren Laverne at BBC 6 Music and now, potentially the biggest one of them all – Zoe to take-over from Chris. Having a female host for the first time in BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show history is certainly an exciting time for the industry.

BBC Radio 2 has some of the most loyal and devoted listeners thanks to the great mix of programming, music, conversation and current affairs.

For these listeners Terry Wogan brought his own particular style. Chris brought his own particular style. Will we now see a new defining style for Zoe for the iconic show and its loyal listeners?

Howard Kosky, CEO & founder of broadcast specialists markettiers4DC writes for RadioToday about BBC Radio 2 Breakfast. This article first appeared on eRADIO – the weekly radio newsletter delivered via email each Wednesday. Subscribe here.

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  1. Adrian says

    I don’t think anyone is worth 1million to host a radio show,male or female.Radio 2 used to have the great programming mix mentioned but I personally think there is now far too much pop music and presenters lacking in the relaxed style I used to enjoy on the Network.

  2. Jim says

    I like Zoe, but Sara Cox is the right person for the job. Sadly it looks like the Beeb is making the wrong choice, again.

  3. Kathryn Watts says

    No no no…. listen to some of Terry Wogans old shows, even Chris’s…. Zoe has nothing of either of their qualities, Terrys ability to make you feel like one of his friends Chris’s intelligent chat. Zoe knows how to name drop and rattle on about herself……


    BBC Radio radio 2 will gain new listeners due to Zoe Ball being signed ti replacing Chris Evans while Chris Evans will bring current Radio 2 listeners with hium ti Virgun Radio, Zoe Ball is a hottie

    1. Alice says

      And being “hot” is very, very important if you are a woman on the radio, right? That’s why Moira Stewart, as an older lady, is confined to the news.

    2. Kathryn Watts says

      Duh, …if you say so, we are talking radio here though

  5. Adrian says

    I don’t think anyone is worth a million to present any radio show,male or female and as for the comment about Radio 2’s great mix for me that’s what used to be-now it’s become far too much pop music orientated -so much so that I usually switch off whoever’s on,it used to be an easy listening station-these days at times I don’t know whether I’m being piped Radio 1 or 2 when I go into an eatery before a station ID comes on.

    1. Kathryn Watts says

      I agree, l remember sundays were lovely radio days with Michael Parkinson playing Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and other greats, you just dont hear them played anymore…..

  6. Charles Kenderdine says

    I could not agree less with Howard Kosky. He seems to be suggesting that Graham Norton or Jonathan Ross could have been offered the job – two men with the most irritating of voices and self-opinions – these days, I switch off if I know their programme is about to start. It is good that there is going to be a female presenter of the Breakfast Show and there is no doubt that Sara Cox with her inimitable , self-deprecatory style and humour, would make the programme distinctive – and I would listen. To my mind Zoe Ball sounds rather like the “good old Beeb” voices and would be a safe pair of hands – but without the flair to grab and retain an audience.There are plenty of other channels to which I can tune – and will if Zoe gets the job. I stress this is just a personal opinion – but as Howard Kosky has expressed his, I am expressing mine!!

  7. Craig Strong says

    A million?
    Pity the poor folk in certain ILR stations that get £40 a show!

  8. Jane says

    I think Zoe is a great choice. I listen to her Saturday show and think it’s great. She has done a great job of filling in for Ken Bruce in the past. It’s definitely time for something different. Look how everyone reacted when Chris took over from Terry and he’s been brilliant.

  9. Alison Smith says

    Sarha Cox

    Please please
    Much netter choice to have breakfast with more fun less angst

  10. Sid says

    Has the beeb lost it’s mind Zoe Ball will be a disaster, Zoe would lose listeners faster than rat up a drain pipe if you bring in a woman then it could only be Sarah Cox.

  11. Hazel says

    It’s got to be Claud to replace Chris I didn’t think anyone would be able to replace sir terry but Chris did a fine job and I think Claude would be a fine successor

  12. Anonymous says

    The bosses on radio 2 don’t give a rats ass about it’s listeners! They destroyed Simon Mayo’s show! Theres a petition from the listeners for Sara Cox for the breakfast show! Do these bosses care! No!! Why don’t they replace the bigwigs with females???

  13. Sal says

    Would hate to be the one with the final decision as you can’t possibly please everyone. I couldn’t bear Chris Evans after Terry left and only listen Fridays when it’s a guest I like. ..but then he talks over them! So I’d love Zoe Ball who does make me feel like a friend. Looking forward to whoever it is! !

  14. Joe Smith says

    Basically you could replace Chris Evans with a pot plant and the show would be improved.

    The pot plant v Zoe Ball is a closer contest.

  15. Ken T. says

    I totally agree with a number of the postings that Sara Cox is the right personality for the Breakfast show. She has shown, during her time on Radio 2, that her transition from Radio 1 has been effortless and smooth. So much so, that her audience engagement, in my humble opinion, runs parallel with the great Sir Terry Wogan. What a tribute to the man and to the BBC this would be.

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