BBC presenters exchange alarm clock based bants as Sarah Montague quits Today

Written by James Millar on 27 March 2018 in Diary

Martha Kearney joins the line up on Radio 4's flagship news programme but still women are outnumbered

In a surprise job swap Sarah Montague is leaving Radio 4's Today programme after 18 years to take the helm on The World On One while Martha Kearney is going the other way.

Montague has been a main presenter on Today since 2001. And she tweeted her delight at quitting early morning radio for a lunchtime slot.

Her time behind the Today microphone has not been without controversy. For a long time she was the only woman in the presenting team before Mishal Hussein joined in 2013. She's been a vocal member of the BBC Women group campaigning for equal pay since it was revealed her salary came in the under £150,000-a-year bracket while fellow Today presenters Nick Robinson and John Humphrys earned at least twice that. And she was reportedly unhappy that the programme that followed last year's election was presented by an all-male team of John Humphrys and Nick Robinson despite being the second most senior presenter on the programme.

She said of her move: "I am very excited to be moving to the World at One. It is a programme I have long admired and, much as I love the Today programme, after 18 years on it I am ready for a new challenge and looking forward to the experience of presenting a programme when I am awake."

Martha Kearney has presented The World at One for over a decade having previously worked on Newsnight and Woman's Hour. She said she it was a 'thrill' to join the flagship radio news programme but tweeted her need for a new alarm clock which received a jokey response from Montague.

The moves will intensify speculation about the future of John Humphrys, now aged 73. He was caught joking about equal pay during the furore over Carrie Gracie's resignation and became the subject of an interview with Jo Swinson when the Lib Dem deputy leader turned the tables and started asking him questions about the affair. He's also seen his pay slashed from around £600,000 a year as the BBC attempts to tackle its gender pay gap. Kearney made a pointed reference to her "years of political journalism" in a statement about her new position suggesting she could be jockeying with Nick Robinson to replace Humphrys as the main interviewer on Today.

The swap means that Today still only has two women among its presenting line up with Kearney joining Humphrys, Robinson, Mishal Hussein and Justin Webb

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