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Kip's out, Kupec's in at Fox News

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FARGO - Kip Hines has been in broadcasting since he was around 14 years old. But sometimes the weather changes abruptly, and so do the weathermen.

Hines said Wednesday he will be leaving Fox News after 13 years as chief meteorologist. He'll continue to work the 5, 6 and 9 p.m. news shows until his last day on Jan. 30.

The quirky weatherman, often donning suspenders and an ear-to-ear smile, will be passing the reins to his "Big Weather Show" to another familiar face in forecasting - WDAY's reporter and weekend meteorologist Rob Kupec.

The two are actually neighbors and dog-sit for each other on occasion, Hines said, although he was unaware Kupec was applying for the job.

"Oh, believe me, there'll be huge shoes to fill," Hines said, chuckling. "But I think he'll do a great job."

Hines was one of the "original three" at Fox, news director Jim Shaw said. When Shaw left WDAY in 2000 to start the local Fox affiliate, current weekday co-anchor Austin Schauer and Hines followed suit.

"I would've been crazy not to bring them over, and I've never regretted it for a second," Shaw said. "(Hines) gave us 13 terrific years, and he's really one of the main reasons we've been so successful."

Shaw said he had many applicants for the post from both in and out of state, but Kupec shone through. Kupec is slated to start at Fox on Jan. 31.

"We had some very, very high-quality applicants, and that's no bologna," Shaw said. "You can only hire one person, and Rob just beat 'em out."

A message left for Kupec at the WDAY Weather Center was not immediately returned on Wednesday evening.

Hines has secured a new job in the marketing department at Titan Machinery in Fargo, working in a newly created "marketing specialist" position, he said. The better hours are a major part of what drew him away from his longtime weather gig.

"I have young kids," Hines said. "I want to get to their baseball games, to their recitals, to their concerts, and I just can't do that with the schedule I have now."

Hines is an entertainer at heart and he strived to spice up his forecasts every day, even through the winter doldrums of the Red River Valley. He said he would definitely miss doing the weather show.

"That's part of my job being on TV is to give people a touch of entertainment, something a little extra that they can't get from the Internet," he said. "If they're going to dedicate a little bit of their evening to me, I want to give a little bit back to them."

He continued, "I hope they remember that as time goes by, and more importantly, I hope they come up and tell my kids the same thing. 'Hey, we really enjoyed your dad.' "

Hines' broadcasting experience began when he was in high school in Huron, S.D. Before coming to Fox in 2000, he worked at WDAY for seven years. His new job at Titan Machinery begins Feb. 1.

This marks the second recent major change to the Fox weekday lineup. Longtime co-anchor Andrea Larson left for Valley News Live last month. She was replaced by Fox reporter Candace Thornberg.