A well-known sports broadcaster who retired from his career this year offered advice to graduating seniors on the verge of finding their own courses.
Longtime WCCO sports anchor Mark Rosen accepted the St. Louis Park High School Distinguished Alumni Award before reflecting on his time growing up at 27th Street and Hampshire Avenue.
“They say that they can take the kid out of St. Louis Park, but you can’t take St. Louis Park out of the kid, and that is so true for me,” Rosen told the Class of 2019 June 6 at the St. Louis Park High School stadium.
He recalled that about 900 students graduated with him at the school in 1970. He mentioned a discussion with a former classmate about their upcoming 50-year class reunion and about how their friends influenced their occupations.
“I have goosebumps thinking about where I’m at tonight,” Rosen said. “My mom particularly wouldn’t believe it because I was not a standout student, I was not a standout athlete, but I believed in what the teachers taught me here in particular in St. Louis Park. I had some extraordinary teachers. I can’t remember sometimes where I parked my car last week, but I guarantee you I remember the lesson that my journalism teacher, Hattie Steinberg, gave me back in 1970, and it resonates in my head.”
He also credited language arts teacher Pete Peterson for the way his lessons on film studies resonated.
“These were very special people and very special times,” Rosen said.
He called his neighbors and connections while growing up in St. Louis Park schools extraordinary. He recalled going to the nearby McDonald’s, one of the first in the state, noted many of the buildings in the area have not changed much and said he drives by the house where he grew up from time to time.
“I think of the great neighbors we had, and I get choked up thinking about it because they were so important to me,” Rosen said.
In a 2012 interview with the Sun Sailor, Rosen said one of his neighbors, Phil Jones, arranged to let Rosen hang out around WCCO in 1969, when Jones worked at the station before leaving to become a CBS White House correspondent. In 1970, Rosen was offered a behind-the-scenes job and had his on-air debut in the late 1970s.
Time can seem to pass quickly, Rosen noted at the graduation ceremony. Like students who go from attending preschool or elementary school to finding themselves graduating from high school, Rosen said, “I feel that same way about how these last 49 years have passed for me in a blink of an eye.”
He advised seniors, “Everything, as you get older, requires work, research and thought. Don’t leave it to someone else, and don’t phone it in. There really is no such thing as a shortcut.”
He emphasized the point again while recommending that students pursue their passions and what brings them joy in their lives.
He warned, “Some of you may find a tougher road ahead as far as employment goes, but I think you have to look yourself in the mirror and understand that failure is part of succeeding.”
He said he failed many times while moving up the ranks at WCCO.
“I failed every single day, but I showed up every day,” he said. “That’s 95% of it – showing up every day – and discovering that you do have that passion. When you take advantage of it, don’t let it go.”
He enjoyed mentioning the Orioles on the air, he noted.
“Every time I got to mention St. Louis Park High School doing something on Channel Four, I was beaming from ear to ear because I thought of the people who are now going to the school,” Rosen said.
While the current classes are smaller than his large class, he said, “I love seeing the diversity in this school and what’s going on in St. Louis Park. ... There’s such a great future in this community.”
On the theme of beginnings and endings, Rosen told the students, “I guarantee you five years from now, 10 years from now, you’re going to be looking back on this night and saying, ‘This, this is where it all started.’ In a lot of ways it ends tonight, but in a lot of ways, it starts tonight.”
He concluded by mentioning that he attended school with the film-making Coen Brothers, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman – who often credits Steinberg with teaching him everything he needed to know to be a journalist – and other people who made St. Louis Park stand out.
Rosen said, “That tradition will continue with all of you.”