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Sam Champion Leaving ABC for The Weather Channel

samChampionFirst on TVNewser: Sam Champion, weatherman for ABC’s “Good Morning America” is leaving ABC and joining the Weather Channel. It’s the first talent departure at the No. 1 morning show in more than two years.

Champion, an ABC veteran, has been “Good Morning America’s” weather anchor since 2006. He joined ABC 25 years ago as weather anchor for WABC in New York.

Champion will be the face of the Weather Channel and also be the network’s managing editor. Beginning in the New Year, he’ll anchor a morning show that on many days will be hosted remotely.

“This is such an exciting opportunity,” Champion tells TVNewser. “It’s a dream job for a weather junky like me.”

Champion will be back on the show tomorrow morning and will sign off on Wednesday. “Robin, George, Lara and Josh are the best friends and colleagues you could hope for,” Champion adds. “I’ll always cherish the two and a half decades at ABC.”

The Weather Channel is part-owned by NBCUniversal, so don’t be surprised if you see Champion turn up on NBC News programs from time to time. He’ll also continue to host “Sea Rescue,” a weekly syndicated educational and informational program.

As Champion says goodbye, TVNewser has learned Robin Roberts is close to signing a deal to stay with ABC News.

> More: ABC News president Ben Sherwood‘s note to staff, and the Weather Channel release after the jump.

I’m writing with important news:

Our friend and colleague Sam Champion is leaving ABC News for a new opportunity at the Weather Channel. He will become the on-air face of the network, appearing as a host and serving as managing editor. Sam calls it a once in a lifetime opportunity.

For 25 years, Sam has been a vital member of the ABC News family — joining powerhouse station WABC in 1988 and GMA in 2006.

Over the years at GMA, Sam has broadcast more than 1,800 weather forecasts. He has traveled to almost every major weather event in the U.S. As many of you know, Sam’s “Go” bag is always ready and his stellar reporting during Superstorm Sandy contributed to ABC’s Peabody Award for coverage of that historic storm.

Sam has broadcast live from a raft floating between polar icebergs, danced the salsa on “Despierta America” and interviewed countless newsmakers, celebrities and chefs. On his show “Sea Rescue,” viewers have shared Sam’s passion for marine animal rescue, rehabilitation and release.

While there is no replacing Sam, we are in excellent hands with his storm chasing partner of the last few years, meteorologist Ginger Zee, who will take over his weather responsibilities at GMA and across ABC News. As you know, Ginger always rushes straight toward the eye of any storm and weaves cutting-edge science with human emotion to elevate our coverage.

GMA will celebrate Sam’s last day on Wednesday’s program. While he is leaving ABC News, he will always be a part of our family.

Please join me in thanking Sam for his friendship and countless contributions to our news division. And let’s all wish him the very best and say so long for now.

Ben

ATLANTA – (December 2, 2013) – America’s most-watched Weather Anchor, Sam Champion, is bringing his talents to the number one destination for all things weather, The Weather Channel. The move was announced today by David Clark, President of The Weather Channel. The award-winning journalist will anchor the network’s new flagship morning show, which is set to debut in early 2014. Based at The Weather Channel headquarters in Atlanta, Champion will also assume Managing Editor responsibilities at the network.

“Sam is already one of the top names in morning television, as well as one of the country’s most respected and trusted weather reporters,” said Clark. “He will add a great deal to our network and be a great addition to our already proven and stellar team of talented weather professionals. With his commitment to understanding, predicting, and explaining the power of weather in our lives, Sam perfectly embodies The Weather Channel’s brand philosophy, ‘It’s Amazing Out There.’”

The Weather Channel will debut its new morning show in early 2014, capitalizing on its position of having its strongest viewership occur during the mornings. The multi-hour show will leverage the network’s advancements in local content delivery, as well as its content partnerships, to help Americans get off to the right start daily, ready for any weather condition they may face. Just last month, The Weather Channel debuted a network relaunch, showcasing new branding, new Local on the 8s, new graphics and sonic IDs, always-on local weather information, and a new set for live programming. Those changes marked the beginning of an evolution for The Weather Channel that will continue through 2014.

Most recently, Champion was the Weather Anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America” (GMA) and Weather Editor for ABC News.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to do what I love most at a network that lives and breathes the weather. The Weather Channel is currently undergoing an incredible renaissance, having recently rebranded its look and feel and transformed the way it presents the weather,” said Champion. “While it is an extremely difficult decision for me to leave ABC and my ‘GMA’ family, I look forward to combining my interest in weather reporting and decades of experience to continue making The Weather Channel the premier destination for the more than 46 million weather enthusiasts and beyond. My ABC family could not have been more supportive and gracious during this transition.”

Champion brings his years of experience to his roles at The Weather Channel. In addition to covering the national forecast for ‘GMA,’ Champion frequently traveled to cover weather-related stories around the country. His coverage included Super Storm Sandy, for which, under Champion’s editorial guidance, ABC News won a coveted Peabody Award; the devastating tornado in Joplin, MO; wildfires in California; hurricanes in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and the Carolinas; and winter storm systems in Colorado, Denver, Chicago and Boston, among many others. Champion has also been on the forefront of ABC’s reporting on the environment and climate change and will continue this work at The Weather Channel.

In addition to his coverage of the weather and the environment, Champion regularly interviewed authors, newsmakers and celebrities during the morning program. Before joining ABC News in 2006, Champion spent 18 years at WABC-TV in New York where he was the most watched weatherman in the tri-state area. Champion began his career in local television in Kentucky.

Champion graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast news. He is involved in many charities, including Autism Champions, Global Green and The Skin Cancer Foundation.

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