Glenn Beck. (Richard Drew/AP)

Fox News and Glenn Beck made it official Wednesday: the Fox News Channel show host is leaving the cable news channel in 2011.

The word came in the form of a news release announcing that Fox News and Beck’s Mercury Radio Arts would work together “to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News’ digital properties.” In the release, Beck said he intends to “transition” off his daily program “later this year.”

As had been speculated, Joel Cheatwood, senior vp development at Fox News, will join Mercury Radio Arts later this month

James Rucker, executive director of, on Wednesday took credit for Beck’s departure.

“Beck’s show lost over 300 advertisers – companies that were unwilling to attach their products and brands to his vitriolic and divisive commentary,”  Rucker said in a statement.

Rucker claims 285,00 members of his organization launched a campaign against Beck back in July of 2009. ColorOfChange claims to be the nation’s largest African American online political organization at 750,000 members overall.

“Fox News Channel clearly understands that Beck’s increasingly erratic behavior is a liability to their ratings and their bottom line, and we are glad to see them take this action.”

When Beck debuted on FNC at 5 p.m. 27 months ago, he averaged primetime-esque 2.2 million viewers.

His was definitely an older audience -- about 1.75 million of his followers were aged 50 or older. Meanwhile, 550,000 of his crowd were in the 25-54 year old age bracket, which is the demographic news programming sells to advertisers.

His audience climbed as high as a quarterly average of about 2.6 million people in 2009;  2.1 million of them were aged 50 or older.

In late 2010 Beck’s quarterly performance dipped to just under 2 million viewers. But in the most recently concluded quarter, he was back up to attracting about 2 million viewers, half a million of whom were in the network’s targeted age group.

Beck’s biggest drop over his short run on FNC appears to have come among 18-49 year olds. He opened with a quarterly average of around 440,000 in that demo and, in the quarter that ended last month, he averaged around 312,000.

“Glenn Beck is a powerful communicator, a creative entrepreneur and a true success by anybody’s standards,” Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes said in the announcement. He also said Cheatwood is a “good friend and one of the most talented and creative executives in the business.”

“I truly believe that America owes a lot to Roger Ailes and Fox News,” responded Beck.