Hank Plante, a veteran political reporter and fixture on the Bay Area television scene, is leaving KPIX (CBS 5), the station announced late Tuesday.

The move for Plante, 63, becomes effective March 24.

"There is an entire population of politicians breathing a sigh of relief at the news of Hank's retirement," said Channel 5 anchor Dana King. "Hank was the consummate professional, never combative but he did his homework and asked tough, pointed questions. Politicians, love him or hate him, respected and answered them, every single time. Our newsroom will suffer a huge intellectual void when he leaves."

Plante has spent more than three decades as a journalist, both in print and broadcasting. He earned numerous honors along the way, including multiple Emmy Awards and the George Foster Peabody Award — broadcasting's equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize. He has worked the political beat for Channel 5 for nearly 25 years.

In a statement released by CBS 5, Plante says he plans to relocate to his home in Palm Springs.

"I'm going to take some time off and do absolutely nothing," he said.

Read Chuck Barney's TV blog at http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/tv and follow him at http://twitter.com/chuckbarney.