WGN Morning News Expansion Yields Staff Changes
Effective September 3, WGN News has promoted reporter Dan Ponce to co-anchor the 4am and 5am newscasts of WGN Morning News alongside co-anchor Erin McElroy. Dan Ponce joined WGN News in September 2010 as a general assignment reporter for WGN News. Prior to WGN-TV, Ponce spent three years as a general assignment reporter at ABC-7 Chicago. He has toured the country with an a cappella group he founded called “Straight No Chaser;” the group released three albums with Atlantic Records. A Chicagoland native, Ponce earned his master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. Ponce speaks Spanish and is a member of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
“News, music and humor – there’s only one newscast in the city where I can do all three,” commented Ponce. “I’m thrilled to be joining Chicago’s most popular morning TV team. It’s going to be a big adjustment waking up that early, but anchoring with Erin McElroy every day will make it well worth it.”
“Since joining WGN three years ago, Dan has excelled in his ability to handle live television,” commented News Director Greg Caputo. “Dan is a Chicago native who understands the news rhythms of our city. As we build-up the early morning news block, I’m confident that Dan’s addition to this team will set the stage for continued improvement and growth.”
In addition, WGN reporter Marcus Leshock will be a regular contributor to the Early Morning Newscasts each day from 4-6am. Previously, he was a feature reporter on WGN Evening News. Demetrius Ivory recently joined WGN News as a meteorologist and WGN Morning News weather anchor on weekdays from 4-6am.
Starting September 3, WGN Morning News is expanding an extra hour from 9-10am. The added hour will feature anchors Larry Potash, Robin Baumgarten, weatherman Paul Konrad and sports anchor Pat Tomasulo. Reporter Cortney Hall will deliver news headlines in the 9am hour. WGN Morning News favorite Mike Toomey will be rounding out the cast, providing additional humor. Effective immediately, Terry Barthel is promoted to supervising news producer of the 9am expansion hour. Previously Terry was special projects producer developing segments for Around Town as well as other parts of the Morning News.
Other news changes include Amy Rutledge, who is joining WGN News as a full-time feature reporter for the 5PM Newscast. Amy has been with CLTV and WGN for several years. She was a full-time anchor at CLTV before leaving the States due to a family move in 2008. Since returning, she’s been a regular free-lance member of the staff performing a variety of duties including anchoring on CLTV, general assignment reporting, and even weather back-up.
Finally, Frank Holland will move to the afternoons as a reporter and back-up anchor for WGN’s newscasts. In his two years with WGN, Frank has often enterprised his own stories. By becoming a member of the afternoon/evening team, Frank’s story-telling strength will deliver the kind of coverage WGN News viewers expect.
Currently, WGN Morning News is the news leader in Chicago every weekday morning from 4-9am. While outperforming rival stations and consistently growing in ratings and viewers, WGN Morning News continues to focus on Chicago’s news, weather, traffic and sports, while other local stations go to national network coverage from 7-9am.
WGN Morning News’ expansion until 10am on September 3 also means Chicago’s Very Own WGN News will add to the most television news hours (54) delivered to Chicago viewers every week, including the continuation of WGN Midday News from 11am-1pm, around the same time ABC 7 Chicago cancels their midday news broadcast.
In addition, from lighthearted to heavy hitting, WGN Morning News runs the gamut when it comes to on-air guests including Tom Hanks, Mike Tyson, Will Ferrell, Bill Cosby, Spike Lee, T.I., Cornel West, Nelly, Jim Breuer, Dax Shepard, Penn & Teller and Aisha Tyler.
On September 6, 1994, WGN-TV launched WGN Morning News from 7-8am. It quickly became a critical and ratings success. In January 1996, the show expanded to two hours and eight months later, expanded again to 6-9am. In January 2001, the show launched an early edition at 5:30am. In January 2004, the show expanded to begin at 5am. In August 2010, WGN Morning News began a half-hour earlier at 4:30am. As of July 2011, it started at 4am. On September 3, 2013, WGN Morning News expands an hour from 9-10am, running six hours from 4-10am. On September 6, 2013, WGN Morning News will celebrate its 19th anniversary.