NEW YORK, April 20 (UPI) -- Michael Strahan confirmed his Live! with Kelly and Michael departure on Wednesday's episode of the morning talk show.
The 44-year-old television personality will leave Live! to become a full-time host on Good Morning America in September, but assured fans he's "not going anywhere" since both series are produced at ABC studios.
"I was reading some stuff and it sounded like I died!" Strahan said of fan reaction to the news. "Thank you guys. I can't ask for better fans at all. You guys have been absolutely amazing. And on top of that, I've worked with incredible staff here.
"I'm always here," he asserted. "I'm always available to guest co-host if I get a call because I consider myself to be a part of this family forever. I just want to say thank you to everybody out there. I'm not going anywhere."
The Goldbergs actress Ana Gasteyer filled in for Strahan's co-host, Kelly Ripa, who was conspicuously absent on the episode. Strahan had nothing but praise for Ripa, who has hosted the talk show since 2001.
"I really want to thank, of course, Kelly Ripa," the television personality said. "Kelly welcomed me here and I've learned so much from her, and she's just been an amazing influence on me and this has truly changed my life to be her with her."
"This show has not been around for over 30 years by mistake," he added. "It's because of all the people who work here extremely hard. Kelly, I thank you, I love you, and everyone else here at Live!"
Sources told E! News Ripa was shocked to only recently learn about Strahan's departure. ABC reportedly kept Ripa and other staff members in the dark to prevent leaks.
"She was livid. It wasn't pretty," an insider said of Ripa's reaction. "[The secrecy] was a network decision. [The move] wasn't an overnight decision and took some time to put it in place."
Strahan was made a permanent Live! host in 2012 and started contributing to Good Morning America in 2014. He is also a retired NFL defensive end who played 15 years with the New York Giants.