Lou Dobbs, the longtime CNN anchorman, announced on the air that tonight's show would be his last on the cable news channel.
Dobbs, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, made his announcement during Wednesday's broadcast of "Lou Dobbs Tonight."
Dobbs' contract was not set to expire until the end of 2011, but CNN agreed to release him from his contract early.
"After nearly three decades anchoring an evening program on CNN, Lou Dobbs has decided to step away from his CNN anchor desk to focus on his role as a commentator and advocacy journalist on his daily radio talk show, as well as to pursue new avenues to contribute to the national discussion on important social, political and economic issues," said CNN in a written statement.
During Wednesday's broadcast, Dobbs suggested that he would remain involved in the civic discourse.
"Some leaders in the media, politics and business have been urging me to go beyond my role here at CNN and engage in constructive problem-solving," said Dobbs.
"I'm considering a number of options and directions," he added.
Dobbs said he wanted to change the partisan nature of public discourse on "critically important" issues including the "growth of our middle class, the creation of more jobs, health care, immigration policy, the environment, climate change and our military involvement, of course, in Afghanistan and Iraq."
"Unfortunately, these issues are now defined in the public arena by partisanship and ideology rather than by rigorous empirical thought and forthright analysis and discussion. I will be working diligently to change that as best I can," said Dobbs.
Dobbs added that he would strive to be a leader in the "national conversation" for "the important work of restoring inspiration to our great free society and our market economy."
When signing off the air just before 8:00 pm ET, Dobbs told his viewers that he would next "see them" on the radio.
Dobbs anchors a nationally syndicated financial news radio report, "The Lou Dobbs Financial Report," and he is the host of the national radio program, "The Lou Dobbs Show," which launched in March 2008. Dobbs' radio shows have more than 400 affiliates and reach nearly five million people weekly, according to CNN's media affairs office.
Shortly before the first votes were cast in the 2008 Republican presidential race, the head of an anti-illegal immigration group said that he wanted to draft Dobbs as a candidate because his organization was dissatisfied with the immigration records of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, three of the leading Republican presidential contenders.
"We still hope that we can get a comprehensive enforcement candidate out of the Republican field," William Gheen, the president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, told ABC News on Dec. 27, 2007. "But if we can't, we're going to grab Lou Dobbs by the ear and drag him into the race."