A FRESH sound will be filling the county's airwaves from tomorrow when afternoon presenter Shabina Akhtar takes over BBC Oxford's flagship breakfast slot.

The station has opted for Mrs Akhtar as the permanent replacement for popular morning time presenter Sybil Ruscoe who left the station late last year.

And in a surprise move, Miss Ruscoe, a former Five Live and Radio One presenter, is returning to the station after a six-month break to take over Mrs Akhtar's 1pm to 4pm slot.

After earning her stripes at a local station in Stoke, Mrs Akhtar was the first presenter from an Asian background to be offered a slot on BBC Midlands local station WM.

However, the Pakistani-born presenter, who grew up in the north of England, said she hoped her lively and slightly risque style would smash some pre-conceptions about Muslim women.

The mother-of-one said: "I am an Asian woman, but I hope people can see past the face and see me as a person.

"There are a lot of negative stereotypes around about Asian women and the only way we can break down barriers is by having someone like me who does want to talk about sex and men and all the things people would not normally think an Asian person would want to discuss.

"I was at a big city station during the Iraq war and people thought I would side with the anti-war supporters because of my background, but I make up my own mind.

"There is no way I should get a job because I tick the right boxes. I will take the criticism if it comes and at the end of the day, I have to bring in the listeners."

Mrs Akhtar, who lives in a village near Banbury, said she was looking forward to the challenge of working on the flagship slot and hoped to add a bit of fun to people's lives.

Mrs Ruscoe said she was looking forward to rejoining the BBC Radio Oxford team from Tuesday, April 10, having spent the past six months redecorating her house and writing a novel very loosely based on her experiences in radio.

She said: "They asked me if I would like to do the afternoon show and I thought it sounded like a good idea.

"I hope I'll be able to bring a few more listeners to the afternoons.

"I really loved doing the breakfast show, but it was just a bit too early in the mornings. I am really a great admirer of former afternoon presenter Ali Booker, so I am very happy to pick up the baton from her.

"I think Shabina will be great to wake up to for breakfast and my advice would just be to get an alarm clock."