William F. Buckley Jr. is stepping away from the National Review, the conservative magazine he founded nearly a half-century ago, according to a published report.

Buckley, 78, is planning to relinquish his controlling shares in the magazine to a board of trustees he has selected, The New York Times reported on its Web site Monday night. The magazine will continue to publish his syndicated column.

The board includes his son, humorist Christopher Buckley (search); the magazine's president, Thomas L. Rhodes (search); and Austin Bramwell (search), a contributor to the magazine who graduated Yale in 2000. Rhodes will be the board's chairman.

"The question is choose some point to quit or die onstage, and there wouldn't be any point in that," Buckley told the newspaper. "Thought was given and plans were made to proceed with divestiture."

Neither Buckley nor the National Review could immediately be reached for comment.

Buckley, a father of the modern conservative movement, published the first issue of National Review in 1955.

"We thought to influence conservative thought, which we succeeded in doing," he told the Times.