"I think it was about a year and a half, two years ago, the fundraiser director for KUAT called me up and wondered if I'd be interested and if I could do it. I told him I'd love to do it," Marries said. "I asked my news director and general manager, and they said, 'Yeah, it's helping out the community.' That's how I started."
For Marries, it's a natural transition. He's been an avid PBS viewer for years.
"I watch Arizona Illustrated almost every chance I get, Jim Lehrer and the NewsHour. I like public television," Marries said. "As a kid growing up, obviously I watched Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street; I've known PBS my whole life. What I like most about (the pledge drives is) I used to do radio back in college and that sort of stuff, and you give out a phone number, and all of a sudden, the phones start ringing. It's a pretty fun challenge. The more rings you hear, it's more of an adrenaline rush. Man, they're listening--they're calling in."
And Marries appreciates the PBS approach to issues, on a national and local level.
"That's one of the things I love about Arizona Illustrated. They dive a lot deeper into issues. You get a lot more of the story," Marries said.
While he remains one of KOLD's top reporters, Marries may be best known for a series of Vietnam-related features. He has traveled with Tours of Peace on three occasions: March 2004, November 2004 and March 2006. His latest tour kept him off of KUAT's March pledge drive. That trip will be featured during the November sweeps period. Those are stories and opportunities Marries enjoys, in many ways, because it more closely approaches the KUAT/PBS news style.
"I have more time," Marries said. "On a typical day when I'm working, I have a minute and 15 seconds, a minute and 20 seconds, to tell a story. When you've been out interviewing three or four people for four or five hours, and then you're trying to condense that down to a minute and a half, that can be a challenge in and of itself. With the Vietnam specials, I get a lot more time to get into the issue and get a lot more emotional with it. I guess you could say it's PBS-ish."
Paul Cicala's second news-reporting stint in Tucson lasted barely six months. The KVOA Channel 4 reporter has accepted a position as sports director at ABC affiliate KESQ in Palm Springs, Calif.
"I'm excited about my next challenge in life," Cicala said. "My dream has always been to be a sports director. In Riverside County, I'll not only have the chance to do stories with local high school and college squads, but it will be nice to cover Southern California pro teams such as the Dodgers, Angels, Lakers and Clippers."
Cicala's duties will be wide-ranging. In addition to anchor responsibilities on KESQ's 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts, he'll handle desk duties for the local FOX affiliate at 10 p.m. and incorporate reports for Spanish-language Telemundo.
"Sports director jobs are few and far between. I have to take advantage of this opportunity," Cicala said. "I graduated from (the University of Southern California) and spent almost six years of my life living and working in Southern California. I'm still a die-hard Trojans fan, and I'm looking forward to having the chance to more easily attend Pac-10 games as a fan, and as a sports reporter."
A graduate of Sunnyside High School, Cicala began the Tucson portion of his career as a reporter for KOLD. Eventually he accepted a position in Las Vegas before returning to Tucson with KVOA in January 2006.
"We're calling the project Neighbors You Know," said Wingspan Executive Director Kent Burbank. "... It's real simple. They talk about their contributions in the community, either through their work or through volunteer efforts. Then they each end by saying, 'I'm so and so, and I'm your neighbor.' There's a voiceover at the end of the commercial that says, 'Lesbian/gay/bisexual and transgender people make contributions to our community every day. Prejudice has no place in our community.'
"Essentially, the idea behind it was to fight the negative lies and deceits that are being spread by some of the extremist groups in the state, particularly the Center for Arizona Policy in Phoenix. This is a very right-wing extremist group in Phoenix that spreads some outright lies."
Burbank hopes the ads are a step toward humanizing an integral part of the population.
"We are trying to do something positive," Burbank said. "Too often, when you hear about LGBTs in the media, it's in a negative light. Someone's bashed in a hate crime; someone is homeless, or CAP is spreading its lies. We're part of the community. We're the people who clean your houses, and we're the doctors, and we're the people who fix your utilities when they go out; we do the estate planning; we're in every neighborhood."