Reporter Joanna Hernandez comes home to join WTTW’s ‘Chicago Tonight’

Joanna Hernandez (Photo: WTTW)

Joanna Hernandez, a Chicago native and Columbia College graduate, has returned home to join WTTW-Channel 11 as an on-air reporter for “Chicago Tonight.”

Her first day at the Window to the World Communications public television station was Tuesday.

Since 2016 Hernandez was a multilingual morning reporter and assignment editor for News 12 Bronx and Brooklyn in New York. She previously worked as an assignment editor for WXTV, the Univision Spanish-language station serving New York from Paterson, New Jersey.


Jay Smith, senior supervising producer of “Chicago Tonight,” told staffers in an email that Hernandez “will be an excellent colleague and team player,” adding: “She will do a great job of helping us tell the stories important to our audience and give voice to Chicago’s diverse communities.”

In her new role, Hernandez will appear on the station’s flagship news program during the week and contribute to “Latino Voices,” the Saturday night public affairs talk show.

Sandra Cordova Micek, president and CEO of WTTW, said in a statement: “Joanna is a talented and hands-on reporter with experience covering local communities in real time. We are looking forward to including her perspective and ideas as WTTW News brings trusted journalism, fact-based news, and authentic engagement that is inclusive and reflective of the diverse voices in our region to our community.”

Phil Ponce (Photo: WTTW)

Like other news organizations WTTW has been striving to achieve diversity goals in hiring. The station’s Hispanic profile took a hit last week with the semi-retirement of host Phil Ponce, who ended his regular appearances on “Chicago Tonight” after nearly three decades.

Other prominent Hispanic journalists who’ve left the station were news director Hugo Balta, who was forced out earlier this year over his use of social media to express personal views, and “Chicago Tonight” host and correspondent Eddie Arruza, who stepped down in 2019.

“I’m honored and excited to return to Chicago to work with the top-flight WTTW News journalists,” Hernandez said in a statement. “I am eager to venture into Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods to provide insightful and accurate coverage of current events to inform and engage the public, and create opportunities for real conversation and a platform for different voices and perspectives.”

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Dan Miller: Paul Sullivan’s July 5 sports-media column came out of nowhere as a welcome feature in Trib sports section. No fan fare, no hype, no promises of penetrating analysis. Just interesting items based on reporting and his sports knowledge. I hope July 5 was a debut.