Fox News Channel’s Colmes Exits

After a dozen years as one-half of Fox News Channel’s Hannity & Colmes, liberal commentator Alan Colmes is walking away from the 9 p.m. show, with an eye toward developing a weekend talk show.

Colmes will step down from his role as co-host at the end of the year, a move that marks the first substantive change to the Fox News prime-time lineup since September 2001, when the network fired anchor Paula Zahn. (In January 2002, Zahn was replaced by Greta Van Susteren.)

Colmes said that he had been thinking of changing his role at the network for some time.

“I approached [FNC senior vp, programming] Bill Shine earlier this year about wanting to move on after 12 years to develop new and challenging ways to contribute to the growth of the network,” Colmes said in a statement released by Fox News. “Although it’s bittersweet to leave one of the longest marriages on cable news, I’m proud that both Sean [Hannity] and I remained unharmed after sitting side by side, night after night for so many years.”

Colmes will continue to appear on a variety of FNC programs, including Foxnews.com’s The Strategy Room. He’ll also retain his duties as host of The Alan Colmes Show on Fox Talk, a division of Fox News Radio.

While no details were made available about a possible weekend show for Colmes, Shine indicated that development on a weekend pilot would begin in the new year.

Having bowed on the day FNC launched in October 1996, Hannity & Colmes is the longest-running program on the network.  It is also the second highest-rated show in cable news, behind FNC tent-pole The O’Reilly Factor.

“We’re very sorry to see Alan reach this decision, but we understand his desire to seek other creative challenges in his career,” Shine said. “We value his incredible hard work in making Hannity & Colmes the most successful debate program on cable news and we’re going to miss him on the show.”