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Ending an era: Tracy Rowlett retiring next year

Outgoing and incoming: CBS11's Tracy Rowlett and Doug Dunbar

Confirming rampant rumors and previously private communications, CBS11 anchor Tracy Rowlett announced Friday that he'll be retiring from TV news when his contract expires in July 2008.

Rowlett also will reduce his workload, anchoring just the 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts after the February sweeps ratings period. His replacement at 10 p.m., beginning in March, will be current early morning anchor Doug Dunbar.

"Retirement for me will just be a reassignment," Rowlett said in a statement released by the station. "CBS11 has been very supportive of my family and me, and I will remain part of the Channel 11 family always."

In later comments to unclebarky.com, Rowlett said, "Frankly, it's all good. It's easier for me to step away than one might think. (His wife) Jill and I are looking forward to more time with Michael (their son) and our grandchildren. And there's the quality of life."

Rowlett left Belo8 after a quarter-century to join Channel 11 just after CBS bought the station in 1999. A partially enforced non-compete clause kept him off the air until February 2000, when he began anchoring the station's 10 p.m. newscasts with Karen Borta. CBS11 currently is running third in the late night news ratings.

Dunbar has worked the 5 to 7 a.m. shift for the past three years.

"Tracy is a news icon in North Texas," he said. "I am honored to have his wisdom and support to build upon his tradition of excellence."

Dunbar also will replace the departing Jody Dean as co-anchor of the 4 p.m. newscasts with Maria Arita. The station hasn't yet named Dunbar's early morning replacement.

CBS11 president and general manager Steve Mauldin said the station "would not be where it is today without the presence of Tracy Rowlett. He has made, and continues to make, significant contributions toward the success of our news operation."