The next time you see Byron Harlan, he could be sitting across a table from you, discussing annuities, dividends and mutual funds. After 30 years in the broadcast news business -- including the last 13 at WFLD-Channel 32 -- he's launching a new career as a financial adviser.
Harlan, 50, signed off Sunday as weekend news anchor at the Fox-owned station -- the latest casualty in a purge of familiar faces there, including Nancy Loo, Lauren Cohn and Jack Conaty (as well as about two dozen technicians and other off-air employees to be laid off by July). Harlan's longtime anchor partner, Nancy Pender, is expected to work solo on weekends for the time being.
While his departure may have surprised viewers, it was a move Harlan has been anticipating for four years. That's how long he's been preparing for his entry into the financial services business.
"I was working to stay [at Fox], but I knew there was a possibility that I wouldn't," said Harlan, a San Diego native who joined Channel 32 in 1997 from CBS News' NewsPath service, where he'd been a Chicago-based correspondent and fill-in anchor for "Up to the Minute." "So I've been working extremely hard to lay the groundwork for this, and it all kind of came together at once."
Until he is free to announce the name of the company he's joining in the Chicago area, Harlan hopes to keep in touch with friends and fans on his Facebook page.
As for leaving behind his three-decade career in broadcast journalism, Harlan says he has no regrets. In fact, as far as he's concerned, the timing couldn't be better:
"I think the business is rediscovering itself and finding out how to make changes. In a global sense, we've delivered the product in the same way for a relatively long time -- a two-anchor format, sports and weather. And that's changing. So that's going to mean some growing pains. What the final outcome of that is going to be I don't know. I can't even imagine. But I am witnessing the change, and the rate of change is accelerating every year, from what I see. But I'm OK with it, because I had 30 years. Thirty great years. So I feel very lucky -- and very excited about what's next."