Mark Rosen announces departure from WCCO-TV after 50-year career

Mark Rosen announces departure from WCCO-TV after 50-year career

Mark Rosen, one of the most enduring and beloved figures in Minnesota broadcasting history, announced Monday that he will retire from WCCO’s Channel 4 Sports next year.

“It’s spectacular,” Rosen told TV viewers as it aired at 10 p.m. Anchor Amelia Santaniello said her longtime colleague earned a spot on “WCCO’s Mount Rushmore.”

Rosen, 66, plans to sign in April following reports of the University of Minneapolis basketball Final Four. It’s been 50 years since he first walked into a CBS affiliate as a high school student eager to learn his craft.

However, his exit could come sooner. Much depends on the health of his wife Denise, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in July.

Rosen, already the longest-serving TV sports personality in any major U.S. market, took an August sabbatical to help her recover from surgery and realized spending evenings with her was more important than chasing athletes or reading scores. Even something as mundane as enjoying Amy Poehler’s reality series “Make It” feels precious.

“We’d be watching these shows together on the couch on Tuesday night and I’d be like, ‘Is this what it’s like? Is this what normal people do?'” Rosen said in an interview Friday at the British pub across the street from the TV station. “It feels just right. Home is where I need energy right now. I mean, in my entire adult life, I’ve never been home at night.”

However, he does not plan to become a full-time retiree. He hopes to expand his role at sports radio station KFAN, where he has been a regular for years, but will be off the air until 3pm to give his evenings free.

Rosen had considered retiring from WCCO next August, but his wife’s spat accelerated the timeline, which he shared privately with several colleagues and management a few weeks ago.

“I think he’s really good at keeping it together,” said Santaniello, who shared the airwaves with Rosen for more than 20 years. “Night work is a strange turn of events for the TV industry, especially when you want to spend quality time with your family. I think he’s looking forward to doing that.”

One of Rosen’s most trusted confidants is Don Shelby, who retired from WCCO in 2010. He hopes his old friend will continue to be in the public eye too – as long as it doesn’t get in the way of his wife being there.

“He’s setting a strong example for his family, but sometimes things can get serious, as you can imagine,” Shelby said. “Nobody I know has ever said, ‘I wish I could have worked longer. Time.’ The truth is, he now has a whole personal plate that needs his attention. I give him unbelievably high marks because he puts down his ego and does the important things.”

“I must have missed it”

Rosen met Denise in the mid-1970s when she was hired by WCCO as a court artist. The two married in 1977 after including dinner at Rudolph’s Bar-B-Que and hanging out by the lake. They have two children. Their daughter, Chloe, is a mission editor at WCCO, and their son, Nicholas, is a film and video editor in San Francisco.

“When they were growing up, I couldn’t come home for dinner at night,” Rosen said, occasionally taking long pauses to calm himself down. “I made up for it over the weekend, but I definitely missed it.”

His second family at WCCO was also crucial to him during his half-century of broadcasting, but times have changed. At night, he was often the only member of the sports team in the building. Can be very quiet. Too quiet.

“When I do this job, I don’t think about what’s going on at home, but between 6 and 10 p.m. on the air, it’s usually just me,” he said. “Not as many people can get away with it like it used to be. That’s when I was thinking, ‘I can spend this time with Denise. “It made the decision easier.”

Rosen said he could have left the station immediately, but he understood the station’s desire to prepare a proper farewell. A replacement plan has not yet been announced.

“Whenever you think of the WCCO movement, you think of Mark,” said Kari Patey, WCCO press director. “He has so many sporting memories embedded in everyone, both in the newsroom and at home. He has a deep love for all the purples and all the other team colors in the Twin Cities, but also has a lot of trust in the community … that’s the trust he’s built over time.”

Throughout his career, Rosen has been front and center of major sporting moments, including Olympic gold medal “Miracle on Ice” in the 1980s and the twins’ World Series champions in 1987 and 1991. But his presence resonated off the field.

In 1987, Tom Barnard of KQRS jokingly threw Rosen’s name into the governor’s hat. He received more than 8,000 written votes. In the 1990s, he helped open a bar of the same name in the warehouse district, which remained open until 2011.

But the anchor station has always been his main link with the community. The fact that he’s walking away hasn’t quite settled in.

“I’m so busy that I don’t have time to absorb it,” he said, returning to the station to pick up his daughter for lunch. “This week will change.”

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