John Humphrys has said it would have been “bonkers” to boost the pay of Today programme co-presenters to match his salary instead of him volunteering a pay cut.
The broadcaster’s pay was slashed from around £600,000 to £250,000.
But asked whether he should have campaigned for women doing an equivalent job to earn his salary, Humphrys, 76, told The Emma Barnett Show on BBC Radio 5 Live: “It would have been bonkers. I was earning too much money…
“It was partly overstated because I was doing Mastermind as well.
“But nonetheless I know now I was getting about twice as much as anybody else on the programme.
“If you’re going to increase all salaries on the programme by that level… somebody has to pay for it and that somebody is the licence payer.”
The best option was to take a salary reduction, he said.
Humphrys added: “Of course I knew I was paid a lot of money. I also knew… I worked very hard. I got up at 3.30am to do my job, I did lots of other things for the Today programme.
“I’d had a huge amount of experience in my early years when I was earning very little money… I was shot at, people tried to kill me, my marriage broke up. I was away from home for months at a time, I didn’t see my children grow up.
“All that was my choice, I’m not blaming anybody for that but there was a sense in the back of my head that I put in a lot of hard yards…”
The Today “Rottweiler” bowed out of the early morning BBC Radio 4 programme last month, after 32 years and 5,000 programmes.