August 28, 2017

“Why would this news anchor from a major market quit his job to drive Lyft? It just doesn’t make sense.”

Anthony Ponce realizes how it looks to fellow journalists. Ten years into his career as an anchor for NBC Chicago and four months after his son was born, he decided to quit his successful anchor and reporter job at NBC Chicago and embark on his own journey.

On the first episode of Poynter’s Next Steps podcast, Anthony talked about his transition from on-air anchor to his newest venture, driving for the ridesharing service Lyft and interviewing riders for his own podcast. Poynter spoke to him about the biggest lessons he’s learned after quitting his job to pursue this passion project full-time.

Post-quitting plans won’t always work out the way you envisioned.

When Anthony was developing this idea of short-form audio storytelling in the context of Lyft, his plan nearly fell apart when the city of Chicago put up an ordinance to require ridesharing drivers to train more extensively, which Lyft and Uber responded with threatening to pull their services out of the city. When the ordinance didn’t pass, he breathed a sigh of relief and called his boss the next day to resign.

Anthony’s second major hurdle to clear happened after he quit NBC and was figuring out how the business of podcasting worked. His expectations were to support his young family while driving and producing a podcast of curated episodes full-time, which immediately didn’t work out with the industry.

“I ended up having to produce 52 episodes a year, one a week,” Anthony said, which was a big departure from the shorter, best-of seasons he envisioned. Though the turnaround time is longer than the usual daily deadlines he adhered to as a reporter and anchor, it changed his schedules and expectations going forward.

Career paths are always evolving, and next steps aren’t permanent.

“It would have been so easy for to stay at NBC or a more conventional gig, and to ignore [what] my gut was telling me,” Anthony said.

Though Anthony isn’t clear about what this project will evolve to become, or what’s next if not this show, he’s learned to prioritize important things in his career. “Even if this show doesn’t become a success in the eyes of the public…it’s so important to do what makes you feel alive, and for me that’s in connecting with and interviewing people.” Listen to Anthony’s podcast here.

Subscribe to Next Steps with Elite Truong on iTunes or Soundcloud, and follow the show on Twitter.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly referred to Anthony Ponce as a former NBC News anchor. He was an anchor for NBC Chicago.

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Elite Truong is on the Vox Products team. She writes monthly about innovation for Poynter.
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