Veteran broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan is to step down from his long-running breakfast show on national AC network BBC Radio 2.

Wogan, who announced his departure live this morning (Sept. 7) to listeners following media speculation, will be replaced by drivetime host Chris Evans at the beginning of 2010.

Wogan first hosted the show from 1972-84, and then returned to the breakfast slot in 1993 after hosting a BBC One TV chat show.

"Wake Up to Wogan" is the U.K.'s most popular breakfast radio show with 7.93 million listeners each week, according to official audience research body Rajar.

"This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my broadcasting career, to say goodbye to you in the mornings," the 71-year-old told listeners. His last show is expected to be on Dec. 18.

Wogan will continue to host BBC television's annual telethon "Children in Need" and plans to present a new live Radio 2 show.

"Terry's contribution to the success of Radio 2 over the last 16 years is immeasurable," said Bob Shennan, controller, Radio 2, in a statement. "His unique talent has provided millions of listeners with the soundtrack to their morning. Terry is unequivocably the most accomplished radio presenter of his generation."

He added: "Chris is a unique broadcasting talent with a huge passion for Radio 2 and its listeners, as we read every day on his blog. Taking over the reins of the Radio 2 Breakfast Show is a daunting task, but I'm 100% certain that Chris will prove himself a worthy successor to Terry's legacy."