Conservative radio talker Neal Boortz announced on Monday his intentions retire in January after four decades behind the microphone, yielding his three-hour show to ex-Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain.

But before Boortz could break the news to listeners today, he was preempted by station execs at Atlanta’s WSB, whose syndication of the program reaches more than 6 million.

“Today, national radio talk show host Neal Boortz announced live on his program that he’s retiring from his daily show and passing the torch to his friend and colleague, Herman Cain,” a morning release by WBS read. “His last day hosting The Neal Boortz Show … will be January 18, 2013.”

That release, though belatedly time-stamped at 10:07AM, was floated even before the station began beaming Boortz across the air at 8:30AM, by which time at least one conservative Georgia blog had already caught the news.

Boortz himself posted on his blog a lengthy farewell note to fans and listeners. “It’s finally the right time to put away the headphones,” he said in this morning’s broadcast.

Cain’s return to WSB is the latest reshuffling of the station’s commentators.

When he left last year to launch his bid for the White House, RedState’s Erick Erickson, then only a recently-hired contributor to the station, was promoted from his late evening hour-long broadcast to the two-hour drive-time slot formerly held by Cain.

– James Richardson