Bill Hemmer has for years been the faithful morning co-anchor at Fox News Channel, boosting the profiles of time-slot partners like Megyn Kelly, Martha MacCallum and Shannon Bream. Now he’s set to step into his own solo spotlight.

Hemmer will take over the 3 p.m. timeslot previously anchored by Shepard Smith, the last stage of a much-scrutinized transition at the Fox Corp. cable-news outlet. The move was previously reported by Mediaite.

Hemmer’s new program, “Bill Hemmer Reports,” will launch on January 20, Fox News said, and Hemmer will lead all of the network’s breaking news coverage as part of that role.  Sandra Smith, his co-anchor at the mid-morning program “America’s Newsroom,” will work with a rotating crew of journalists until a permanent co-anchor is named.

“As a journalist, l am extremely grateful for this opportunity. 2020 will undoubtedly be a year of great significance. Leading our breaking news division with a signature hour has enormous value to me, personally, and to our audience,” Hemmer said in a statement. “We’ve got a fantastic team here and I am excited to get to work.”

Hemmer has been the first voice viewers hear each day from the news side of Fox News. His “America’s Newsroom,” which he helped launch in 2005, follows several hours of programming from “Fox & Friends,” the popular early-morning show that is run by the opinion-programming side of the operation. Some Fox News critics have been scrutinizing the network to see how it would fill the 3 p.m. timeslot, which anchor Smith filled with a no-nonsense, down-the-middle brand of reportage. Smith abruptly departed Fox News in October, after sparring verbally with Tucker Carlson, one of the network’s most-watched opinion hosts.

Before joining Fox News Channel in 2005 Hemmer co-anchored CNN’s “American Morning,” and was an anchor of both “CNN Live Today” and “CNN Tonight.”

He has long evidenced an entrepreneurial streak. After starting his career as a weekend sports anchor for WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, his home town, he abandoned what he said had been a “dream job” to travel around the world. He had saved $15,000 and negotiated a deal that would have him send his takes on his travels through India, eastern Europe, Vietnam and Russia to WCPO as well as the now-defunct Cincinnati Post. The pay, Hemmer recalled, was not substantial, but he got a free camera out of the deal. Even so, he recalled spending $3,000 more than he had.

Jay Wallace, president and executive editor of Fox News Media, cited Hemmer’s “ability to cut to the heart of the story while humanizing major events” as a chief factor in the decision to give him the new role.