Phil Ponce’s Journalistic Legacy Extends to Loyola Classroom 

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By: Madilyn McCullough (Loyola Sophomore) 

The former WTTW Chicago Tonight host Phil Ponce visited the reporting basics class at Loyola Chicago to reflect on his journey as a top Chicago journalist. Eager to hear Ponce’s words of wisdom, this Loyola class prepared sets of questions for Ponce to answer regarding his life as a journalist. 

“Interviewing is an art form,” said Ponce opening the class. He brings his 15 years of street reporting and 20 years of anchoring experience as advice for these students.  Ponce began his career in journalism at an ABC station in Indiana following his short career as a lawyer.

When asked why he made this transition he said that he became a journalist out of love for performance and research skills he learned as a lawyer. He then moved to Chicago WBBM TV in 1982 and began his career as a Chicago Tonight anchor just 10 years later.  During his time on Chicago Tonight, he interviewed over 9,000 people live.

Through all his experience, Ponce was able to give the students advice on how to conduct a successful interview.

“When I am doing an interview my goal is to make contact with the ball to get a single or double, it is important not to create pressure to hit a home run,” said Ponce. He frequently used analogies to help students grasp the concepts and to create a personal relationship with the students.  

“A good anecdote is like gold,” said Ponce when recalling his time as a journalist.

When responding to a question about his strangest interview he said, “Comedians make me nervous because you never know their next move” and continued by saying, “John Cleese physically pulled me out of my chair.” 

When commenting on the future of journalism, Ponce said, “There is a lot more pressure to be a lot more productive on different platforms.” He did not say this to discourage young writers but to show that writers need drive and to love their craft. “People are always eloquent when they talk about what they love,” said Ponce.

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