WLEX's Mary Jo Perino leaving station

WLEX sports anchor Mary Jo Perino.
WLEX sports anchor Mary Jo Perino.

Mary Jo Perino, evening sports anchor for NBC affiliate WLEX (Channel 18), will soon leave the station to spend more time with her 7-year-old son.

"When I told him about it, his response was, 'I get my mommy back,'" said Perino, who has not yet set a departure date. "That was pretty much all I needed to hear."

Perino has spent 10 years at the station during two stints separated by a brief tenure at CNN Headline News in Atlanta. She was WLEX's weekend sports anchor from 2002 to 2006, returning in 2007 to replace departing lead sports anchor Ryan Lemond.

Perino, who is divorced, said her son, Sam, is playing football, basketball and baseball.

"I just want to be a fan in the stands," she said.

Before Sam entered school, she said she was able to spend the mornings and early afternoons with him. But now, school ends right as she goes to work.

"And I'm here until midnight," she said. "Sports doesn't happen at 9 a.m. I get that."

She said she plans to work in sales in some form going forward. A couple of opportunities that have presented themselves, but she has not yet decided what to do, she said.

During her time at the station, she has been recognized nationally. In 2011, she became the first woman elected to the board of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. She won two NSSA Kentucky Sportscaster of the Year awards.

WLEX News Director Bruce Carter said a search for her replacement is underway.

"We're going to miss her greatly, but I think she's doing the right thing for her personal life," he said. "She's just been a tremendous employee."

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