Phil Ponce, the Alexandra and John Nichols Chief Correspondent and Host of Chicago Tonight, began at WTTW in 1992 as a correspondent for the show and substitute for longtime host John Callaway. In 1997, Ponce joined the Washington, D.C.-based NewsHour with Jim Lehrer as an anchor. Two years later, Ponce returned to Chicago to host Chicago Tonight. Ponce grew up in neighboring East Chicago, Indiana. He began his career in broadcast journalism at WRTV in Indianapolis and spent 9 years as a reporter at WBBM-TV in Chicago. He has an undergraduate degree in English from Indiana University and a law degree from the University of Michigan. He and his artist wife, Ann, live in Chicago and have three grown children, a photographer daughter and two sons who also are Chicago broadcast journalists.
Carol Marin joined the Chicago Tonight team in January 2006 to host discussions on local issues and news. As a twice-a-week contributor, Marin also conducts timely interviews with Chicago newsmakers. Marin has worked as an anchor and network correspondent, has been awarded two George Foster Peabody awards, two National Emmy awards, and two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University awards. She has worked for NBC-5, CBS-2, and CBS on 60 Minutes, 60 Minutes II, the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, and 48 Hours. In addition to her role on Chicago Tonight, she continues as an investigative reporter for NBC-5 and as a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.
Elizabeth Brackett is a Special Correspondent for Chicago Tonight. Brackett has gained critical acclaim for her work, winning a Peabody award in 1988 for election coverage, and an Emmy in 1999 for hosting Chicago Tonight. She also won an Emmy in 1984 for her work on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour (now the PBS NewsHour). Brackett began her television career as a researcher and weekend reporter at WBBM-TV in Chicago and went on to general assignment reporting at WGN-TV and WLS-TV. From 1984 to 2011, she served as the Midwest correspondent for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
Eddie Arruza is a Correspondent and Segment Host for Chicago Tonight. Arruza began his television career in Chicago working in a number of behind-the-scenes capacities at two Spanish-language stations. He became a general assignment reporter for Chicago's former Univision affiliate, WCIU-TV, before making the jump to the English language market, working at WABC-TV in New York City and then WGN-TV in Chicago. In addition to reporting for the WGN News at Nine, Arruza was also a substitute anchor and host of a Latino-oriented public affairs program for which he won an Emmy Award.
Paris Schutz is Chicago Tonight’s political correspondent. For the past two years (2011 and 2012), he has received the Peter Lisagor Award as Chicago's “Best Television Reporter,” given by the nation’s largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Schutz began his career at WTTW as an intern after graduating Magna Cum Laude from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. He has covered everything from hard news to light-hearted features. In addition, Schutz is a pianist, singer and songwriter. Along with Chicago Symphony Orchestra trumpet player John Hagstrom, Schutz composed and performed Chicago Tonight’s theme music. Schutz also created, co-wrote, co-produced and wrote the theme music for “IL-Informed,” a political satire special that aired on WTTW. He is a three-time Emmy nominee and an alumnus of St. Ignatius College Prep on the near south side.
Brandis Friedman is a Correspondent and Content Producer for Chicago Tonight. Brandis comes to WTTW from a two-year stint as a freelance anchor and reporter for WBBM Newsradio in Chicago. At WBBM Newsradio, Friedman anchored radio broadcasts, produced, wrote and voiced daily news stories. Prior to that, she was a Special Projects Producer and Fill-In Reporter for WJLA-TV/ABC-7 in Washington, D.C.; served as Deputy Communications Director for the House Committee on Science and Technology; and worked as a Reporter for the NBC affiliates in Little Rock, AR and Wichita Falls, TX. Brandis grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi, graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans, and received her Master’s degree from The Journalism School at Columbia University in New York. She also earned three regional Emmy Awards during her time in DC, and she currently resides in Chicago with her husband and son.
Jay Shefsky is a Correspondent and Senior Producer for Chicago Tonight, and host of the weekly series, Jay's Chicago. During his more than 25 years at WTTW, Shefsky has told a lot of stories about people and life in Chicago. His 10 documentaries were honored with numerous awards, including Emmys, Peter Lisagor awards, and a Cine Golden Eagle. His work has been broadcast nationally on PBS and on the ABC News Nightline program. In 2003, he brought his unique brand of storytelling to Chicago Tonight, where his beat has ranged from history to arts to science to human interest stories.
Ann Kreiter is a Producer and Segment Host for Chicago Tonight. When it’s not football season, Ann works with Joel Weisman to produce Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review. In the fall, Ann is the host of our “Big Cat and the Bears” segment, teaming up with former Bear James “Big Cat” Williams for a weekly recap of Chicago Bears games. Kreiter received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her career has included reporting and producing jobs at ESPN, Big Ten Network, Fox Sports Net Chicago, TeamWorks Media, WKBT-TV (CBS) in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, and WBAY-TV (ABC) in Green Bay.
Geoffrey Baer answers viewers’ questions about Chicago architecture and history in his weekly “Ask Geoffrey” segment. He is the host and writer of WTTW’s popular television “tours” including the river, lakefront, boulevards (by bike), the “L”, and Chicago’s suburbs. In more than 20 years at WTTW, he has been executive producer of Artbeat Chicago and the documentary series, Chicago Stories. His first national PBS primetime special, Ten Buildings that Changed America, debuts in early 2013. He has won multiple Emmys and other awards. He is a docent for the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and a board member of the Art Institute’s Architecture and Design Society and Lookingglass Theatre (emeritus).
Joel Weisman is Host and Senior Editor of Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review. He has been with Channel 11 since 1973.
A Chicago native, he broke into journalism with the storied City News Bureau of Chicago, worked for the Gary Post-Tribune, was political editor and investigative reporter for the Chicago American (Chicago Today), reporter/columnist and Metropolitan Editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, and Midwest correspondent for The Washington Post. He's won multiple Emmy Awards, Peter Lisagor, Jacob Scher, and Associated Press awards, and was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting. For many years he delivered commentary and news analysis for WGN-TV.
Weisman is also an attorney, specializing in media and entertainment law. He represents journalists at stations and publications around the country, and has lectured extensively on legal and journalism issues.
Mary Field is the Executive Producer of Chicago Tonight. She is responsible for all news and public affairs production at the station, including Chicago Tonight, Chicago Tonight: The Week in Review, and segments produced for PBS NewsHour.
In more than 35 years in the news business, Field has been a William Benton Fellow in broadcast journalism at the University of Chicago, an investigative/special projects producer for WGN-TV, an assistant news director for WIND Radio and a reporter for the legendary City News Bureau.
She has been honored with numerous journalism awards for investigative reporting, as well as a Peter Lisagor Award for public service and a National Silver Gavel Award for legal affairs reporting. She received a 2009 lifetime achievement award from the Chicago Headline Club, the Chicago chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Jay T. Smith
Jay T. Smith is the Supervising Producer for Chicago Tonight. In more than 20 years at Channel 11, Smith has served as the producer of Chicago Week in Review and The Cheap Show, and produced a number of Chicago Stories documentaries. He also was the producer of WTTW's national (PBS) series HandyMa'am with Beverly DeJulio. Smith has received numerous awards for his work, including six Chicago/Midwest Emmys and two Peter Lisagor Awards from the Chicago chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Smith is a graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington.
Rebecca Palmore is the Digital Content Editor for Chicago Tonight. She first tried journalism in Urbana-Champaign, writing occasionally about local theater for alt-weekly rag The Octopus (may it rest in peace). In 2002, she moved to Chicago and began working for Metromix, the Chicago Tribune's entertainment guide to the city, before focusing on the Chicagotribune.com website and, most recently, managing the Tribune's 50 digital suburban sections. Before receiving her BA in Creative Writing and English Lit at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Rebecca spent several years working her way around the world, including a stint as a dish washer in Perth, Western Australia. She continues to wash dishes – only now, without pay.
Beni Enas is the Line Producer for Chicago Tonight. Prior to joining the team, she taught Broadcast Journalism at Columbia College in Chicago. She also worked as a Producer for Channel One News in Los Angeles, a newscast airing in schools nationwide. Locally, she worked at ABC-7, and before that spent three years producing at CNN in Atlanta. She has her BA in Broadcasting from Buffalo State College in New York, and a Master’s in Education from North Central College in Naperville.
Marc Shaykin is the Director of Chicago Tonight. An Emmy-nominated director, Marc has been working freelance DGA positions in Chicago for the last 15 years. In addition to working at WTTW, he has worked at ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and Harpo Studios. For the last six years, he’s been teaching at Kennedy King College and at Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy. During the summers, Marc also directs a live video feed of musical acts at The Ravinia Music Festival. A graduate of Northern Illinois University, Marc was raised in the far south suburbs, but now he and his wife live in the northern suburbs with their three children.
Marc Vitali is a Producer for Chicago Tonight, with Arts & Culture as his main focus. A native of Philadelphia, he's lived in Cook County for 27 years and is a 25-year veteran of WTTW. His stories and profiles have appeared on Wild Chicago, The Golden Apple Awards, and Artbeat Chicago. He's won 5 Midwest Emmy Awards and shared a Peter Lisagor Award from the Chicago Headline Club. He is an Arts Journalism Fellow with the USC Annenberg School of Journalism in Los Angeles.
Since 1997, Alex Silets has been a producer on a number of WTTW programs, including Chicago Tonight, Chicago Week in Review, and Chicago Stories. In 2012, she co-produced the documentary, Remembering Chicago: The ‘70s & ‘80s. In 2007, she co-produced a groundbreaking documentary on the history of Chicago's LGBT community, Out & Proud in Chicago hosted by Jane Lynch. Airing nationally, it won a Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism, among other honors. She also produced the documentary, Schoolboy to Showgirl: The Alexandra Billings Story. She co-produced the national PBS series, Health Secrets: What Every Woman Should Know, hosted by Paula Zahn. Silets went to Connecticut College and Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.
Paul Caine is an Associate Producer for Chicago Tonight. He began his journalism career at The Chicago Reporter where he won several awards, including the National Association of Black Journalists Award for outstanding coverage of the black condition; the Peter Lisagor Award for public service journalism; the Ohio State Award for excellence in educational and public affairs broadcasting; and the Lincoln University of Missouri Unity Award for outstanding coverage of minority issues. He also worked as a Senior Correspondent and Editor for Reuters in Hong Kong, and as a Sports Editor and Writer for the Associated Press in London.
Nick Blumberg is an Associate Content Producer for Chicago Tonight. A Chicago native, he is a magna cum laude graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University. He joined WTTW after nearly five years with KJZZ, the NPR member station in Phoenix, where he served as a reporter, producer, and fill-in host. During his time at KJZZ, he also filed stories for and appeared as a guest on NPR's Weekend Edition and Here and Now, Marketplace, and the BBC World Service. Blumberg loves live music, nonfiction, cooking, and his ill-behaved dog, Greg Maddux.
Crystin Immel runs the assignment desk for Chicago Tonight and is an Assistant Producer. A native of Wisconsin, she moved to Chicago in 2009 for college. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago in May 2013 with a BA in Journalism and Political Science. Crystin is also a former intern and McCarter Fellow for Chicago Tonight. Like any true Wisconsinite, Crystin is a die-hard fan of the greatest sports teams in the country -- as far as she’s concerned -- the Packers and the Brewers.
Kristen Thometz is an Assistant Interactive Content Producer for Chicago Tonight, producing material exclusively for the Chicago Tonight website. A native of Chicago’s southwest suburbs, Kristen began her journalism career working for her hometown newspaper, The Orland Park Prairie, before becoming editor of The Lockport Legend. She received a BA in Journalism from Loyola University Chicago in 2011.
Hunter Clauss is an assistant content producer for Chicago Tonight. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader. You might also remember hearing him on WBEZ, where he helped cover public education before joining the Chicago News Cooperative in 2010, where he covered city politics. He received a BA in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago. He won an Investigative Reporters and Editors award for a series of articles he co-wrote in college about nepotism in the Chicago City Council. He is also a four time Peter Lisagor Award loser.
Erica Gunderson produces the Ask Geoffrey segment, having joined the team in 2012 with a background in copywriting, among other things. She is also the editor of the Viewer Feedback segment. A lifelong Chicagoan, Erica is also an avid gardener, zealous cook, optimistic Cubs fan, and adjective enthusiast.