Gloria, 78, has long championed the role of the solo female host. Despite a recent shake-up of presenters at the BBC, she reckons bosses could still do more on gender imbalance. She said: “I think Zoe is marvellous. She has a very natural personality and to talk for two or three hours without a script is hard. I was the first woman to have her own show on Radio 2, in 1982. I did a daily show for 13 years. I was given a job in broadcasting when there were not that many women there at all.
“When I started in the business I remember saying, ‘What makes you think that a man does not want to listen to a woman on the radio?’ and three years later I was on.”
Zoe, 48, was also the first solo female breakfast show host on Radio 1 in 1998.
The presenter of Strictly Come Dancing spinoff It Takes Two said: “It makes my tummy go giddy when I think about the first show.
“I just hope that I can do a show that Britain wants to wake up to.”
She added: “I am so excited – but that hasn’t stopped the anxiety dreams.”
Zoe beat fellow BBC radio DJ Sara Cox to take over from Chris Evans as host of the UK’s most listened-to breakfast show – following iconic names such as Terry Wogan and Ken Bruce.
After nine years in the role Evans, 52, returns to his old breakfast show at Virgin Radio.
Ms Hunniford continued: “Girls now say I blazed the trail, but you don’t think about that at the time as you are so busy doing it.
“But I think it is about time they had more women on radio.”
The new year shake-up also sees Sara Cox move from the late-night slot to the Drivetime show, taking over from Simon Mayo and Jo Whiley.
As for Ms Hunniford, she has a busy 2019 with BBC consumer affairs show Rip-Off Britain and ITV’s Loose Women and This Morning.
She joked: “I have been commissioned until 2020. I will be in my Zimmer frame.”