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Gil Schwartz to Retire as CBS Communications Chief

Gil Schwartz, CBS’ long-serving head of corporate communications, is set to retire as of Nov. 1 after more than 20 years with the company.

Schwartz’s departure marks another transition for the company that is in the midst of a massive corporate shakeup following the forced resignation of CEO Leslie Moonves on Sept. 9.

Schwartz has been well-liked among many journalists for his quick wit, colorful personality and the fact that he has moonlighted for years as a columnist and author under the pen name Stanley Bing. Schwartz noted the changes under way at CBS in the memo sent to CBS staffers on Thursday morning.

“As fans of arcane SEC filings have noted, I had the option of stepping away early this past summer, but given the exigencies of corporate life at that juncture, I elected to stay in place for a while. Now seems like a much more appropriate time to move on,” Schwartz wrote. “The corporation is establishing a new direction, full of hope and promise. And I still have a lot of writing to do, in an atmosphere of perhaps some greater serenity.”

Schwartz came to CBS in 1996 after Westinghouse Broadcasting bought the company. Schwartz had served as a PR exec for Westinghouse’s station group and its Group W programming arm from the early 1980s.

For years, Schwartz was a big hit at CBS’ annual affiliates meeting with a Robert Benchley-esque humorous presentation about the state of the network. He hosted CBS’ annual holiday party for journalists, a can’t-miss affair for anyone with a taste for industry gossip and pigs in a blanket.

Schwartz noted the evolution of the business in the years since he has been at the helm of CBS’ corporate communications wing. His final year on the job was rocked by the turmoil surrounding CBS and the legal battle with its corporate parent, National Amusements Inc., and the drumbeat of sexual misconduct allegations against his boss.

“I started at this job back when we all worked on dedicated word processors and the phrase ‘I’ll get back to you tomorrow’ was considered a rapid response,” Schwartz wrote.

“Today, it is not uncommon for reporters to call after they post a story to see if they need to make any corrections. But, as the world has changed, so have we, and I believe this department continues to define excellence in what we do. I’m very proud of that and always will be, and of all of you. So now, after a millennial lifetime at this company, I take my leave, not without a certain heaviness of heart, I do admit, but with a new and not unwelcome lightness in my step as well,” Schwartz wrote.

Here is Schwartz’s full memo:

This note is to let you all know that, effective November 1, I will be retiring from CBS.

As fans of arcane SEC filings have noted, I had the option of stepping away early this past summer, but given the exigencies of corporate life at that juncture, I elected to stay in place for a while. Now seems like a much more appropriate time to move on. The corporation is establishing a new direction, full of hope and promise. And I still have a lot of writing to do, in an atmosphere of perhaps some greater serenity.

I am also very happy to say that I leave our lean, focused Communications department in wonderful shape.  Under the guidance of Dana in New York and Chris in LA, with seasoned pros like Kelli at Corporate, Christa at News, Jen at Sports, Johanna at Showtime, Susan at Interactive, Adam at S&S and Mike at our Television Stations, and with Photo firing on all cylinders under Gail’s steady hand, I know the important messages that make us strong will keep on coming through the crazy, noisy media environment loud and clear.

I started at this job back when we all worked on dedicated word processors and the phrase “I’ll get back to you tomorrow” was considered a rapid response. Today, it is not uncommon for reporters to call after they post a story to see if they need to make any corrections. But, as the world has changed, so have we, and I believe this department continues to define excellence in what we do. I’m very proud of that and always will be, and of all of you.

So now, after a millennial lifetime at this company, I take my leave, not without a certain heaviness of heart, I do admit, but with a new and not unwelcome lightness in my step as well.

Thanks, everyone. Keep up the great work.

Gil

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