As a single mother with two young sons, Marcia Danits launched her career as a graphic artist in the late 60s. During the Chicago Conspiracy Trial in 1969, Marcia’s brother-in-law, Bill Robbins --- who was a director at WBBM TV News --- recommended that the station use her as a courtroom artist. That was the beginning of a 36-year career. She has covered most newsworthy Chicagoland trials during that time, working also for CBS Network News and occasionally for other Chicago stations. She has received three Emmy nominations for courtroom art and illustration. Marcia has illustrated feature stories at WBBM, such as “Cornhusks and Cowcatchers”, reported by Bob Wallace; a ride on the Amtrak Train to New York during an oil crisis in the 1980’s, reported by John Callaway; and a Charles Dickens Christmas story, produced by David Finney. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree at the Chicago Art Institute and a Master of Liberal Arts Degree at the University of Chicago. She has taught figure drawing at the Suburban Fine Arts Center in Highland Park, IL. Marcia has illustrated for newspapers, magazines, books and film documentaries. Her paintings have been exhibited in various galleries and juried art shows. One of her paintings won a bronze award in a juried show for the Wisconsin Women in the Arts. At present, along with painting in her studio, Marcia is back in school at the University of Chicago participating in a program of Asian Classical Literature. Marcia says she considers her career as a special gift, allowing her to spend working days as if in a drawing class, constantly seeing and learning how our world works.
Veteran broadcast journalist and news administrator Paul Davis began his career as a staff announcer at radio station WCRA in Effingham, Illinois, where his mother was a pioneering news director for 37 years. He was only 15. Paul earned a BA Degree in Communications from the University of Illinois and did graduate work in Educational Psychology. By age 20, Paul was anchoring news in Texas. In 1960, he joined the news department of WCIA-TV in Champaign, Illinois, as anchor-reporter and was given the added duties of news director in 1967. During Paul’s 20-year run at the station, WCIA enjoyed one of the nation’s highest audience shares for news programming. Paul left WCIA to become news director at WGN Television and Radio in Chicago, a position he held for nearly 13 years. During his tenure, WGN-TV expanded its 9-pm news to an hour while dramatically increasing its ratings, created an hour-long Midday News and began Chicago’s first weekend morning newscast. Paul implemented the city’s first computerized television newsroom. He established a Washington Bureau for all Tribune stations (Tribnet) and was its first president. Paul is one of only four journalists to have served as national president of two of the nations largest journalism organizations, the Radio Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ, SDX). Paul chaired the RTNDA’s EEO Committee, served as a member of the RTNDA’s Task Force on Diversity and chaired the Radio Television News Directors Foundation’s (RTNDF) National Advisory Committee on Diversity. As a volunteer, Paul has spent countless years doing performance critiques for participants at minority journalist conventions. Most recently, Paul served as Senior Vice President of the Foundation for American Communications in Pasadena, California, where he provided journalists around the world with educational training on complex subjects. He has three grown children and six grandchildren. Paul served for more than ten years on the Board of Governors of the National Television Academy’s Chicago chapter and he received the organization’s Governor’s Award in 1994. It’s only fitting that he return to Chicago in 2009 to become part of the Academy’s prestigious Silver Circle.
After graduating from the Illinois Institute of Technology School of Design, Jim Stricklin began his cinematography career with the Canadian Broadcasting Company in Toronto. He filmed news, documentaries and features for Newsmagazine, allowing him to excel at his craft. Jim was hired by NBC Chicago in 1967 on the recommendation of NBC Network Bureau Chief Les Crystal who eventually became president of NBC News. Jim’s first assignment was to shoot silent 16 mm film, working with a light man (electrician). Jim was assigned to NBC’s Northwest Indiana bureau where he provided extensive film coverage of the campaign and election of Richard Hatcher, the first black mayor of Gary, Indiana. Jim eventually returned to NBC’s Chicago office and his credits read like a history book. He covered the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, Robert Kennedy, George Wallace, Hubert Humphrey, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and of both George H.W. and George W. Bush. He found himself in the middle of riots and anti-war demonstrations in the 60s and 70s. Jim also traveled extensively throughout the South to cover the civil rights movement. On the international scene, Jim went to Germany to photograph the return of the hostages held by Iran, and he met Fidel Castro while filming a delegation visit to Cuba. Jim was introduced to documentary producer Scott Craig and, to borrow a line from Casablanca, it turned out to be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Working with Scott, Jim filmed six Emmy winning documentaries, being nominated for his own Emmy for five of those films and taking home two of the gold statuettes. In sports, Jim was a “live” camera operator for NBA and NFL games as well as NBC golf. In the mid 70s, he made the transition to minicam operator often handling live feeds of breaking news events. During his career, he frequently worked with David Brinkley, John Chancellor, Floyd Kalber, Dick Kay, Carol Marin and numerous other journalists. From film to tape, Jim Stricklin witnessed history and photographed it for the world.