Ailing anchor Phil Ponce feeling ‘much better now’

Phil Ponce

Phil Ponce

Veteran Chicago public television newsman Phil Ponce is expected back on the air Monday after several days in the hospital for treatment of chest pain and a cyst in his liver.

“Phil is grateful for everyone’s good wishes and asks that the public not send cards or letters,” according to a statement from WTTW-Channel 11, where Ponce hosts the flagship nightly news program “Chicago Tonight.” “He emphasizes that he is perfectly fine and is looking forward to getting back to work.”

Ponce, 65, had been “feeling some discomfort” Wednesday before he moderated a live U.S. Senate forum between Democratic incumbent Dick Durbin and Republican challenger Jim Oberweis, a spokeswoman for the Window to the World Communications station said.

Still feeling pain in his side and chest that radiated to his right shoulder, Ponce called his doctor, who sent him to the emergency room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the spokeswoman said. Tests showed a benign cyst in his liver, which was drained.

“Phil feels much better now, and may be released from the hospital as early as today,” she said Friday. “He expects to be back to his normal on-air schedule on Monday.”

Ponce succeeded the late John Callaway as host of “Chicago Tonight” in 1999. After a four-year break while Bob Sirott hosted the show, Ponce returned to the top job in 2006.

A native of East Chicago, Indiana, and a graduate of Indiana University and the University of Michigan Law School, Ponce previously was a reporter for CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and a national correspondent for "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” on PBS.

Two of his three children have followed Ponce into broadcast journalism. Son Dan is a news anchor at Tribune Media WGN-Channel 9, and son Anthony is a news anchor and reporter at NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.