Careers

Why this TV reporter quit his job to drive for Lyft

Anthony Ponce’s podcast in which he interviews passengers in his Lyft car will air in August.
Source: Anthony Ponce
Anthony Ponce’s podcast in which he interviews passengers in his Lyft car will air in August.

Last week, Anthony Ponce was a high-profile TV reporter for NBC in Chicago. This week, he's a driver for Lyft.

And he couldn't be happier.

When the WMAQ-TV on-air reporter was passed over for a promotion for the second time, the 37-year-old quit his job to drive for ride-share service Lyft and launch a podcast where he interviews passengers.

Ponce posted a video on Facebook explaining why he's making the career change that has racked up nearly 1 million views.

Ponce said he was feeling "creatively confined" after being a general assignment reporter for more than a decade. He hopes his podcast, "Backseat Rider", will be a new chapter for him.

He had been toying with the idea of a creative podcast for awhile. "I was interested in sharing the opinions, views and stories that go beyond the 10-second soundbites that we tend to see in local news," he said.

For about four months before he quit, Ponce secretly drove for Lyft to see if people would be open to sharing their stories with him while he recorded their voices. They were.

So the day after an ordinance to ban Uber and Lyft in Chicago was struck down in June, Ponce told his boss he was leaving.

"It stung when I kept getting passed over [for promotions]. Absolutely that played into my decision," Ponce said, adding that he did enjoy his time with his former employer.

His agent laughed when Ponce told him the news.

"My credibility is everything to me." -Anthony Ponce, journalist and founder of "Backseat Rider" podcast

Ponce went with Lyft as opposed to Uber or another ride-sharing platform because he found it easiest to get a car with Lyft.

Lyft does not sponsor Ponce's podcast, but he did meet with the company's communications team for coffee.

"I made it clear to them that I'm like any other Lyft driver," he said. "Because if it appears that this is an elaborate marketing scheme, then it takes away from the authenticity of it."

"My credibility is everything to me," he added.

Ponce's wife, a professional photographer who shot the video of Ponce leaving his office for the last time on Sunday, supports his career move. The couple agreed to give the podcast a go for six months. They have a five-month-old son.

Ponce said securing health care is his biggest worry.

"I don't really know how to make it into some sort of profitable venture," he said. "I'm just not an expert in that — I'm a storyteller."

"I'm really excited about the initial response the idea has gotten, but I'm also scared," he said.

"Backseat Rider" will premiere in August.

Disclosure: NBC Universal, which is the parent company of CNBC, owns NBC News.