By Alan Pergament
Channel 4 anchor Diana Fairbanks is leaving the station in about a month to return to Traverse City, Mich.
News Director Joe Schlaerth announced the move this morning in a memo to the staff.
"We're very sorry to see Diana leave," said General Manager Rene LaSpina. "I wish her much luck in the future."
Fairbanks isn't leaving for another broadcasting job.
"She's making the move because of her husband's job opportunity," said LaSpina.
Schlaerth's memo said Fairbanks' husband, Brian Lawson, received an "excellent opportunity" at a resort he used to work at and the "family is moving back home to the place they called home for more than a dozen years." Fairbanks and her husband have a young daughter.
Fairbanks arrived at Channel 4 from Traverse City in January of 2012 to become the 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. news anchor. She had a brief period as the co-anchor of "Wake Up!" before returning to the 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts.
Under the guidelines of LIN Media, Fairbanks isn't allowed to talk to the media (that would be me) until she gets approval from the company.
However, Schlaerth said in his memo that "Diana says she is happy for the opportunity to have worked with such wonderful, hardworking people here at the station. It was a tough decision but the right move for Diana and her family."
The announcement of Fairbanks' departure came a day after the end of the May sweeps. Channel 4 did very well. Ratings weren't an issue.
Channel 4 won the 10 p.m. newscast anchored by Fairbanks on WNLO-TV in the competition with Channel 2's newscast on WUTV and saw its rating in the time period grow from a year ago.
The other newscast that Fairbanks anchored at 5:30 p.m. had flat ratings but narrowed the gap with Channel 2 from a year ago by half a ratings point.
LaSpina said the station is starting a search to replace Fairbanks, whose last day at the station is June 27.
It will be an important search, too. When Fairbanks was hired, she was widely viewed as a potential replacement for Jacquie Walker if Walker retired years from now.
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