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Chris Licht leaves MSNBC for CBS News

Chris Licht is leaving his job as EP of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and heading to CBS News as Vice President of Programming. Licht will oversee programming and development for CBS News broadcasts and platforms beginning Monday, June 6. The same day Scott Pelley takes over at “Evening News.”

The front office at CBS News has been a revolving door of late, including the departures of the executive producers of the network’s morning program the “Early Show” and the “CBS Evening News.”

Licht has been with MSNBC since 2005, joining from NBC’s San Francisco O&O KNTV. His first job was on Scarborough’s prime time show “Scarborough Country” moving up to EP of the broadcast. In 2007, Licht went with Scarborough to mornings to fill the gap left when Don Imus was fired over the Rutgers controversy. Licht is credited as co-creator of “Morning Joe” which celebrated four years on the air earlier this month.

A year ago, Licht suffered a brain aneurysm and underwent emergency surgery. He returned to the show a month later in late May. He’s since written a book about the experience called “What I Learned When I Almost Died.” Licht will be feted at a book party in Washington a week from today; the day before he’ll be in our studio for a MediaBeat interview.

“It would take something extraordinary to pull me away from the great ‘Morning Joe’ team,” said Licht in a press release (after the jump, as is the internal memo from CBS News president David Rhodes). “I’m excited about the opportunity to become a part of the rich history at CBS News.”


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Jeff Fager and I are pleased to let you know that Chris Licht will be joining CBS News as Vice President of Programming, effective June 6th. Chris comes to us from MSNBC, where he was co-creator and original executive producer of “Morning Joe.” He will oversee programming and development for all our broadcasts and platforms.

Chris is an innovator and we’re delighted to bring his fresh perspective to the CBS News division. We are confident that his creativity will excite colleagues and audiences—just as it did in cable news and local broadcasting.

Chris comes to CBS News with a wealth of experience in television news and an inventive style that has drawn attention throughout our industry. He was at the helm of “Morning Joe” as the show garnered critical acclaim for its refreshing interviews with newsmakers and unique perspective on top news stories. He led the show’s comprehensive coverage of the 2008 election—experience we know will come in handy as our organization ramps up for 2012.

Before “Morning Joe,” Chris partnered with Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country” as senior producer. He began his career at KNBC in Los Angeles, distinguishing himself early on during the station’s coverage of the OJ Simpson trial. Over seven years at KNBC, he moved up to special projects producer, coordinated the station’s Olympics coverage, and then produced the Channel 4 News at 11 up to #1 in the market. In 2001, NBC moved him to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he played an integral role on the transition team during the network’s purchase of KNTV. Following the transition, he remained at KNTV as executive producer.

Simon & Schuster will publish Chris’ first book, “What I Learned When I Almost Died,” later this month.

Please join us in welcoming Chris to CBS News.

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CHRIS LICHT NAMED VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAMMING FOR CBS NEWS

Chris Licht, co-creator and original executive producer of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” will join CBS News as Vice President of Programming, it was announced today by CBS News Chairman and “60 Minutes” Executive Producer Jeff Fager, and David Rhodes, President, CBS News. In this role, Licht will oversee programming and development for CBS News broadcasts and platforms effective June 6.

“Chris is one of the most talented producers in this business, and it is great for CBS News that he is joining us,” said Fager. “He will be a significant partner in improving our existing broadcasts and developing new ones.”

“Chris is an innovator and we’re thrilled to have his talents here at CBS News,” said Rhodes. “He’ll bring a fresh perspective to the news division which will excite colleagues and audiences—just as he did in cable news and local broadcasting.”

“It would take something extraordinary to pull me away from the great ‘Morning Joe’ team,” said Licht. “I’m excited about the opportunity to become a part of the rich history at CBS News.”

Licht comes to CBS News with a wealth of experience in television news and an inventive style evidenced throughout his remarkable career. He was at the helm of “Morning Joe” as the show garnered critical acclaim for its refreshing interviews with newsmakers and unique perspective on the top news stories. In addition to covering nearly every important news event in recent history, he led “Morning Joe’s” comprehensive on-location coverage of the 2008 election.

Before “Morning Joe,” Licht partnered with Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country” as senior producer and then was elevated to the position of executive producer.

Licht has worked at various levels of the electronic news business. He began his career at KNBC in Los Angeles, distinguishing himself early on during the OJ Simpson trial. Over the next seven years at KNBC, he moved up to special projects producer, coordinated the station’s Olympics coverage, and then produced the Channel 4 News at 11 up to #1 in the market. In 2001, NBC moved Licht to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he played an integral role on the transition team during the network’s purchase of KNTV. Following the transition, he remained as executive producer.

Licht’s first book, What I Learned When I Almost Died, will be published by Simon & Schuster later this month.

Licht graduated from Syracuse University’s SI Newhouse School of Public Communication with a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism and political science. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and their two sons.

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