Who is new Today Programme editor Owenna Griffiths and will BBC Radio 4 let her fix the show?

Luckily she doesn't have to handle Humphrys any more...

Sarah Sands, a former editor of the Evening Standard, is standing down as Editor of the Today Programme, Radio 4’s flagship politics show, to be replaced by Owenna Griffiths from PM, the show that acts like it is Radio 4’s flagship politics show.

How will this change the way Today works? Is the Daily Puzzle going? Will Today be less Tory-leaning than it has been seen to be under Sands, who is close to several senior Conservative MPs and has been seen at social events with Nigel Farage among others? Perhaps… 

That Griffiths is seen as a safe pair of hands is apparent from the quote she has provided for the announcement: 

Griffiths, who previously worked on Today for nine years, including as deputy editor, said: “Perhaps rather embarrassingly, the Today programme has been a part of my life since I first started listening at university.

Griffiths’ editorship at the PM has been successful. It included in-depth analysis from across the UK during the 2019 General Election, strong pandemic coverage, and the astounding award-winning seven-part series Anatomy Of A Stabbing.

With John Humphrys gone — thankfully — and listenership down (Today has a weekly reach of 7.12 million people according to Rajar, down from 7.37 million in the previous quarter, which was juiced by a hunger for pandemic coverage), Griffiths does need to give the programme a polish.

Share

The sharpness and ‘must-listen’ quality of interviews has gone, and Today doesn’t provide the excitement of Good Morning Britain on TV or the slightly innovative approach of Times Radio where guests are given more time to speak. Closer to home 5Live Breakfast is a more lively listen, while LBC and Talk Radio make a vulgar splash that the BBC would never consider attempting. 

Today does not need to be new. It needs to sound vital. And it needs to be cared for and invested in. I don’t think, like some, that Sarah Sands was a bad Editor. I think she did some great things — pulling the show out of the studio more and bringing in new kinds of features — but I also think she was not properly supported and that at times the editorial lines felt misguided or just plain wrong.

I wish Owenna Griffiths luck and hope I get the chance to be a contributor to Today again sometime as it’s always a fascinating experience.  

Yeah, I know that’s sucking up… I do know how the media works, right?

Do you have something you want to tell me about working at the BBC and Radio 4 specifically? DM me on Twitter or reply to this email. Your anonymity is assured.