Tom Lindner, KARE's news director since 1996, is leaving the station.

Lindner broke the startling news Wednesday afternoon through his Twitter account. "Change has come my way," he wrote. "KARE today, gone tomorrow. Time to grow anew."

In a phone conversation later, Lindner said the departure was not his decision. "I was simply told that they wanted a change," he said.

KARE's general manager, John Remes, said that he didn't have a firm timetable for naming a replacement, but that he plans to move "swiftly and smartly as I can." The newscast's managing editor, Jane Helmke, will serve as interim news director.

Remes said the decision was made in-house and did not come from corporate parent Gannett, a media conglomerate that also owns USA Today newspaper. He would not go into details, but said he and Lindner had been discussing a change for a while.

Lindner, a University of Minnesota grad, joined KARE in 1992 after working at WCCO and KTCA. "Tom's work over 19 years compares favorably to the work of any person at any station in the country," Remes said.

Perhaps Lindner's greatest accomplishment was keeping the station's most important news broadcasts at the top of the ratings after the 2003 departure of popular anchor Paul Magers. Lindner has served longer than any other news director in the market.

"It's been an absolute honor," Lindner said. "I think we've connected with people both inside the building and with folks outside of here."

Lindner, 56, said he has no plans to retire, but he's not sure if his next chapter will be in TV news.

"You know, I've been taking a right turn out the KARE garage for a number of years now," he said. "It might be time to take a left turn." • 612-673-7431 Follow Justin on Twitter: @nealjustin