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Longtime “Fox & Friends” co-host and correspondent Jillian Mele tearfully announced on Friday she is leaving the show to focus more on academics and personal pursuits after nearly five years.
The Philadelphia native and former sports broadcaster made the announcement in a self-declared “Fox News alert,” at times playfully recounting her experiences with her colleagues while at other times finding it difficult to hold back tears.
“Today is my last day here at fox News,” Mele said, already holding back some tears. “This, as you know, has been the most difficult decision I have ever made in my life. In part because I love working here and I love the people here because you are friends. You are family.
“And I feel so blessed to have had this time here but, ultimately I had to do what was right for me and I thank you for welcoming me into your home every single morning,” she said.
“I’m gonna take a little time to focus on my personal life which I haven’t done my entire adult life,” she continued, “sleep past 1 a.m. for the first time in 15 years, and have a focus on getting my MBA which I’m currently doing at LaSalle University in Philadelphia.
“I’m gonna really focus on me, my friends, and my family, but this is such a family,” she said to co-host Todd Piro.
“This is such family you and Carley and Ashley and Janice, everybody here have been such important people in my life,” she added. “And to everyone here, the bosses, Gavin, Lauren who is a saint, Suzanne Scott, Jay Wallace, everyone who believed in me, thank you from the bottom of my heart because I am a better person for having been here.”
Fox News has named Carley Shimkus to replace Mele at “Fox & Friends First,” the program preceding the regular network morning show.
Fox News Channel vice president of morning programming Gavin Hadden noted in a statement: “Carley brings great experience to this role developed over nearly a decade at Fox News Media and we are excited to have her join Fox & Friends First.”
He added, “We wish Jillian all the best as she returns home to Philadelphia and thank her for her outstanding contribution and dedication to the Fox & Friends franchise.”
Adweek notes further:
Shimkus has been serving as a reporter for Fox News Headlines 24/7, as a substitute anchor on Fox News and as a co-host for the network’s streaming service Fox Nation. Additionally, Shimkus provides viewers with news updates on Fox & Friends and programs across the network. She joined FBN in 2009 as a production assistant and was later promoted to [associate producer].
Following a video montage of Mele’s reports and other moments over the years, Piro concluded the segment by saying: “You mean so much to everybody here. A lot of tears today not just from your thank you at home. Because you are also my family our family and you are going to be just fine.”
“It has been great having you here, and the real tribute to your dedication is the fact that I don’t think you ever missed an alarm,” said co-host Steve Doocy during a later segment on Friday, making a reference to Mele’s consistent appearances and her reliable work ethic on the early-morning show.
“The relationships that you see on TV are the relationships that we have in real life,” said a tearing-up Mele as a member of the production crew came out with balloons and a bouquet of flowers. “It’s so special — you guys are the best people I have ever worked with.”