Dan Ponce, who cut short a promising Chicago television news career last year to fulfill his dream of singing professionally, is returning home to join WGN-Channel 9 as a general assignment reporter. The Tribune Co.-owned station is expected to announce his hiring in the next few days, sources said.
Ponce, 33, previously spent three years as a reporter at ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. His return to the market would restore the Ponces’ on-air family dynasty here to full strength, with his father, Phil Ponce, continuing as host of “Chicago Tonight” at public television WTTW-Channel 11, and his younger brother, Anthony Ponce, continuing as a reporter at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.
In January 2009, Ponce obtained an early release from his contract at Channel 7 to hit the road full time as a member of Straight No Chaser, the a capella group he founded in 1996 during his sophomore year at Indiana University. (Here is the link to his on-air sendoff from Channel 7.)
The 10-member, all-male group went on to release three CDs, appear in a PBS fundraiser and tour before sellout crowds nationally. They’re currently headlining an eight-week engagement at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.
Ponce, who grew up in north suburban Wilmette and graduated from IU and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, joined Channel 7 in 2006 from WILX-TV, the NBC affiliate in Lansing, Mich., where he was a reporter and weekend morning anchor.
One reason Ponce may have decided to settle down now is his impending marriage to Chicagoan Amy Levell, whom he met after a pledge drive for Channel 11. He proposed to her onstage during a concert by Straight No Chaser at the Chicago Theatre last April. (Here is the link to video of his surprise proposal.)