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Wald to Leave CNBC At End of March

Jonathan Wald, senior vice president of CNBC in charge of the network's dayside programming, will leave the top-rated business network at the end of March. The surprise announcement comes after Wald was sounding out prospects of eventually becoming head of the network, according to sources.

Mark Hoffman, president of the network, broke the news to CNBC staff in an e-mail on Tuesday.

"After months of conversations, I'm disappointed to let you know that Jonathan will leave CNBC at the end of March," wrote Hoffman. "Jonathan has made substantial contributions to the network over the last three years and been an important part of the successes we've seen over that time. Unfortunately, we could not come to terms on a new agreement and have made the decision together that the best solution is to part company at this time."

According to Hoffman's e-mail, Wald will "work closely" with Hoffman on the transition. No one thinks that Wald, 42, is likely to ride into early retirement. There is much speculation about where he will end up next. Sources inside CNBC shot down suggestions that he could go to Fox Business Network.

The announcement comes as CNBC's business day programming has experienced a ratings surge in the wake of the continuing financial crisis. The network's anchors have also seen their stars rise with frequent appearances on NBC News programs including Meet the Press and Today. And Wald has expanded business day programming into primetime with periodic special reports on the crisis and the Federal bailout.

Wald joined CNBC in 2004. He was instrumental in developing Jim Cramer's Mad Money and the trading show Fast Money, anchored by Dylan Ratigan. He has been at NBC News since 1983, starting as a desk assistant and working his way through the ranks to eventually become executive producer at Nightly News and then the Today show. Both were abbreviated stints; less than a year at Nightly and 16 months at Today.

Wald's father, Richard Wald was a president of NBC News and a VP at ABC News. He is currently the Fred Friendly professor of journalism at Columbia University.