"It was a 3 1/2-month search. They told me they put together consulting firms, focus groups, and they've never put this time and effort into an anchor search. When they told me I got it, I was beside myself," Marries said. "I've wanted this position for quite some time. When you strive for something in your career, and you get it, it's just a great feeling."
A weekend anchor and reporter since his arrival from Yuma's NBC affiliate in the summer of 1999, Marries had opportunities to look into other positions, but decided to stay the course.
"I've turned down a few jobs over the years, but I've always had it in the back of my mind that I'd probably leave, and this position would probably come up, and I would regret it," Marries said. "I really love Tucson. I see myself here a long time. I love my job here. I love my co-workers. I love management. Find a job you love, and you'll never work a day in your life."
His situation is not unlike co-anchor Heather Rowe. Rowe, also already employed by KOLD, was pegged by the station to replace Kris Pickel, who accepted a job in Sacramento, Calif., last summer.
Pickel teamed with Randy Garsee for nearly a decade, and in that time frame, KOLD moved from last to first in the ratings. Now in a virtual deadlock for the top spot with KVOA Channel 4, Marries is hopeful his relationship with Rowe will help keep viewers tuned to the CBS affiliate's news product.
"We're probably going to be the youngest news team in Tucson, but we bring a rejuvenation and energy that I think the other stations don't have," Marries said. "I really enjoy working with her. Our desks are real close. I have so much respect for her news judgment. We have such a great working relationship with everyone, and we're all friends. It meshes so well."
Along with its tendency for employees to become intimately familiar with the way U-Haul works, broadcasting lends itself to a quest for upward mobility. Tucson's market size is around 70th nationally. That's a significant jump from WTOV, licensed to Steubenville, Ohio, with an emphasis on coverage in Wheeling, W.Va. Its market size is in the 150 range.
"As any broadcaster looks to do, you're looking for advancement," said Recker from a stopping point in Lebanon Junction, Ky., in the early stage of his Western sojourn. "I had been treated well at WTOV, and said I would never leave unless it was the absolute right perfect opportunity, and the folks at KVOA were unbelievable.
"I felt right at home during my interview. The Tucson area intrigues me, because much like covering Ohio State football, I know how passionate the fans can be about a particular team, in this case, UA basketball. I've always loved college sports. What better area and what better time right now? It was just an opportunity I could not pass up."
During his 5 1/2-year stint at WTOV, the graduate of Robert Morris University covered a litany of teams in a sports hotbed.
"We did probably 20 to 25 tape-delay (high school football) games a year. We did a lot of play by play," the 27-year-old Recker said. "We covered Ohio State football extensively, and then had an opportunity to continue to cover the (NFL's Pittsburgh) Steelers (and) the (Cleveland) Browns; there were some (Cincinnati) Bengals fans in that area. It really gave me an opportunity to cover a wide array of sports on a number of levels. I'd be at a high school game Friday, then Columbus covering Ohio State Saturday and in Pittsburgh for a Steelers game Sunday. It kept me busy and kept me in tune to a lot of sports."
His desire is to focus heavily on local coverage.
"The philosophy is as much local as you can get into a sportscast," Recker said. "Obviously, with ESPN and the Internet, the philosophy is giving the viewer something you can't get anywhere else. If you have to cut back on highlights to tell a feature story, maybe that's a philosophy to have."
He also likes the idea of jumping in the deep end of the pool. It's a busy time for sports in Tucson: The UA basketball team is nearing the end of the regular season; the Accenture Match Play golf tournament is later this month; spring training is around the corner.
"I like being thrown right in the fire," said Recker.
He's the new face, that guy who replaces Dan Ryan, who spent close to 20 years behind the desk at KVOA.
"I hope people give me a fair chance," said Recker, who started Feb. 5. "I'm going to work my hardest to put the best product on the air."
KVOA has also added Jay Campbell to the sports department. Campbell replaces Dan Joseph.
"We're going to miss her," KGUN General Manager Andrew Stewart said. "She wasn't only a talented newscaster, but a good citizen in the newsroom. On a personal note, she's just a very genuine personality and a good person. She's going home to Phoenix. It's also an opportunity for her to grow. When you have a situation like this that makes sense, it's sure easier to feel good about it."
Stewart is optimistic KGUN will land a quality replacement.
"We have three very qualified candidates for the position, and we hope to have somebody in there by the beginning of March," Stewart said.