A News Legend Comes out of Retirement
December 14, 2016 | Enjoying Retirement
“It’s hard to have a bad day at the office when this is your office,” says Dave Marash as he looks out the window over his desk to the fields of sage brush leading up to the Sandia Mountain range near Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Marash, who spent 57 years covering some of the biggest news stories of our time for ABC, NBC, CBS and others, left network news. In 2012 he and his wife, Amy, moved from their home in Washington, D.C., to Tijeras, New Mexico, with an eye toward a new, slower life.
Now, four days a week Marash conducts a 50-minute conversation about a top news story on KSFR, the community radio station in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Thanks to modern technology, he can interview people around the world for his show Here and There from his home office/recording studio.
“I can’t imagine a more fun job,” says the former reporter and substitute anchor for Nightline with Ted Koppel. “I’m interviewing people with deep knowledge of important news stories, with plenty of air time for context and consequences as well as the developing aspects of the story. It’s pretty exciting, and it’s a real surprise—not exactly what I thought I’d be doing right now.”
Marash, a great lover of baseball, says when they first moved west he figured he’d become a loyal fan of the Isotopes, the local minor league team, and that he’d spend his time exploring the beauty of New Mexico. “The landscape out here, with wind and the birds, it has its own pace. I was coming from high-energy newsrooms in D.C. and New York, but out here I could feel my tempo slowing down.”
Marash may enjoy slowing down, but he never wanted to stop doing news. While he will turn 74 this year and is considered by demographers to be a member of the “Silent” generation, he is more akin to Boomers, those born after 1943, who responded to a 2014 Gallup poll and say they are reluctant to fully retire in the way previous generations have done. Instead they continue to seek ways to utilize their experience and knowledge through alternative work arrangements in their later years, either through consulting, mentoring or through entrepreneurial ventures.
For Marash an opportunity presented itself in 2014 when the general manager of KSFR asked if he’d do an interview for them. “I said sure, but only if I could do it from my home,” he remembers.
Soon thereafter the station’s management called again and asked if he’d consider becoming their news director. “I had to laugh because I had always been considered unmanageable by most of my bosses. But I said I’d do it if I could share the job with another person.”
By the year’s end the station convinced him he should have his own show, and he stopped being news director. His show Here and There airs four days a week and is live-streamed on ksfr.org. Podcasts are available on iTunes, KSFR’s website and on davemarash.com. “It’s wonderful work. We report on the biggest stories from our community, around the country and the world. All I need is a strong internet connection, a telephone, my computer and a good microphone,” he says. “I couldn’t have done this 25 years ago, question the world and provide answers to the world. The technology just didn’t exist.”
With his reputation and Rolodex, Marash is regularly able to talk with a world-class collection of on-the-scene journalists, analysts and witnesses to events around the globe. “I think Here and There is unique in the depth of its discussions and the range of its subjects,” he says. The show now has a paid associate producer; a volunteer researcher; and Dave’s wife (Amy), who provides counsel and graphics that light up his email, Facebook and Twitter offerings. The show has covered land controversies in Arizona; the impact of falling oil prices on New Mexico; and such international stories as the refugee crisis in Europe, Syria and Jordan. It’s also offered eye-witness reports from Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil. Guests have ranged from former U.S. Ambassadors Thomas Pickering, Jack Matlock and Ryan Crocker to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Carol Leonnig, Eric Lipton and Laurie Garrett.
“This is in-depth journalism on my own terms,” he says. “I spent a good part of my 50-plus years as a journalist trying to convince managers to give me this kind of intellectual freedom and responsibility. Now the opportunity and the responsibility are on me.”
Marash also enjoys setting his own schedule and taking walks with his dog, Louie, between recording sessions. Working from home has its perks and its peculiarities. “Once while I was recording an interview, I looked out my window and I saw a 200-pound mountain lion strolling across our neighbor’s backyard,” he remembers. “I couldn’t say a word. Certainly not, ‘Holy cow, that’s a mountain lion!’ Not in the middle of an interview.”
Being your own show producer means being your own fundraiser, something Marash admits he hates. KSFR provides basic funding for the show, and Marash lends his voice to raising funds for the station as well as for his own show, including to pay for advertising to reach a wider audience. “That’s a new hat for me,” he admits.
Marash says he also would like to be able to underwrite original radio reporting projects for a younger generation of journalists. “I recently had the opportunity to mentor a bit on a series of radio documentaries reported by Damaso Reyes, an American multimedia journalist and photographer. Damaso had obtained a grant to examine issues of race and identity among people of African descent who are citizens of Germany and Poland.
“I was able to work with Damaso so that his material sustained three 50-minute programs full of sharp observations and truly intimate personal revelations,” Marash says. “He did all the hard work, and I was the tugboat that got the liner into its neat radio berth.
“There are a lot of wonderful journalists out there ready to tell quality stories that can grip a listener to a broadcast or a podcast,” says Marash. “I want to find ways to help them and their stories find audiences.”
When asked if he’d like to get back out in the field himself, he admits he relishes the slower self-directed pace he’s achieved in un-retirement. "I used to say with pride I was immune to time zones; now I’ll admit they take more of a toll.” One thing reporting through other reporters has not changed, he says: “My goal is still that my listeners should not just ‘know about’ but understand a story.”