Entertainment

How many female DJs are on Radio 2's biggest weekday shows?

Gloria Hunniford was the first woman to have a permanent daytime slot on the station.

Radio 2 clocks up 50 years on air this Saturday with exactly the same number of women DJs on its biggest weekday shows as when it launched: zero.

The station currently has no regular female hosts between breakfast and drivetime on weekdays, with a line-up that runs from Chris Evans and Ken Bruce to Jeremy Vine, Steve Wright and Simon Mayo.

In 1967, Radio 2 listeners were treated to a host of star DJs including Jimmy Young, Kenny Everett and Brian Matthew, but no women were employed specifically to play records or introduce music.

Sir Jimmy Young death
The late broadcaster Sir Jimmy Young (Kirsty Wigglesworth/PA)

Female voices could be found only on Woman’s Hour, which aired on Radio 2 every weekday at 2pm.

But when this transferred to Radio 4 in July 1973, the schedule no longer contained any regular shows hosted by women.

It was not until 1982 that Gloria Hunniford became the first woman to have a permanent daytime slot on Radio 2.

Commenting on the station’s current schedule, a BBC spokeswoman said: “Radio 2’s daytime line-up is extremely popular, with millions of listeners tuning in across the day.

“The station does not employ presenters because of their gender, but due to their presenting skills.”

She added that the station overall has more female on-air voices than ever before, including Vanessa Feltz, Clare Balding, Liza Tarbuck, Claudia Winkleman, Anneka Rice and Elaine Paige.

Claudia Winkleman (John Stillwell/PA)

And when regular presenters are on holiday, many of the stand-in hosts are female, including Sara Cox for Evans, and Zoe Ball or Fearne Cotton for Bruce.

It is true that in total, including programmes broadcast at weekends and overnight, Radio 2 is a far more diverse station than 50 years ago.

By contrast, in 1967 the station boasted no female DJs across its entire first week on air – a scenario it shared with sister station Radio 1.

But when comparing the stations today, Radio 1 – unlike Radio 2 – does have a female DJ on air between breakfast and drivetime on weekdays: Clara Amfo.

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