LOS ANGELES (AP) -- New Jersey's Jon Stewart, who turned his biting and free-wheeling humor into an unlikely source of news and analysis for viewers of "The Daily Show," will leave as host this year, Comedy Central said Tuesday.

Host Jon Stewart tapes Comedy Central's 'The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.' (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Comedy Central)

His departure was announced by Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless after Stewart, host of the show since 1999, broke the news to the audience at Tuesday's taping in New York.

"Seventeen years is the longest I have ever, in my life, held a job -- by 16 years and five months," Stewart said on Tuesday night's program. "In my heart, I know it is time for someone else to have that opportunity...This show doesn't deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you."

He will remain as host until later this year, but no final date is specified.

Stewart grew up in Lawrenceville, N.J., where he received an honorable mention all-state selection in soccer during his senior year at Lawrence High School. A current resident of Red Bank, Stewart also once tended bar at the now-closed City Gardens in Trenton.

Ganeless called Stewart a "comic genius."

"Through his unique voice and vision, 'The Daily Show' has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come," she said in a statement.

Stewart's departure is a second big blow for Comedy Central: Another star, Stephen Colbert, left "The Colbert Report" last year to take over from CBS late-night host David Letterman when he retires in May.

The Stewart and Colbert shows created templates for a comedic form that offered laughs along with trenchant political and social satire. Authors and politicians were as common as Hollywood celebrities on their shows.

Stewart took a several months-long hiatus in 2013 to direct "Rosewater," a film about an Iranian-born journalist who was imprisoned for 118 days in Tehran and accused of being a spy. The Comedy Central statement did not indicate what his plans were after leaving.

Patrick Lavery contributed to this report.

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