WCCO’s Mark Rosen shares stories from new book during Royalton visit

‘Best Seat in the House’ focuses on the relationships he values most

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

WCCO sports director, anchor and reporter Mark Rosen spoke to a gathering at the Royalton Public Library Nov. 2. He shared stories of life events and anecdotes of personalities he has known in more than four decades of work in journalism.

It was simply a matter of being in the right place at the right time for Mark Rosen, Minneapolis television and radio station WCCO’s veteran sports director, anchor and reporter.

Rosen appeared in Royalton Nov. 2 to share experiences and sign his recently-released book “Best Seat in the House,” coauthored with Jim Bruton.

“I heard a million times that I should write a book, and I always thought, ‘yeah — I’ll get around to it.’ This book comes from the reservoir of what’s left up here,” he said as he pointed to his head.

Rosen grew up in St. Louis Park and was outside a lot using his imagination. “That started the process in my mind that would serve me later in life. It forced me to get the wheels turning up there,” he said.

He started in journalism in 1969, spending Saturdays hanging out at the WCCO newsroom while a junior in high school.

“I just started out doing that and didn’t leave,” he said. “I would do anything — sweep the floor — it was an amazing environment.”

He was hired part-time while still in high school. While a student at the University of Minnesota, he was hired full time.

Rosen has covered Super Bowls, World Series, Final Fours and the Olympics in his more than four decades in the business. It was the 1980 winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. that was probably the most significant experience for him. “It all fell into place that I was sent to Lake Placid,” he said.

His memories of that time as well as those of a 25-year anniversary return trip to Lake Placid are detailed in the book.

One of the most deeply meaningful sights of those Olympics happened after the U.S. hockey team won the gold medal. Having grown up during the Vietnam conflict and attending college during the turmoil of the early 1970s, Rosen had never seen an enthusiastic display of patriotism for the United States.

“After we won, everyone was so excited and waving flags; it looked like Victory in Europe (VE) day,” he said.

No matter the numbers of famous people he has known, the big sporting events he has covered or a life lived in the limelight — it’s the relationships that were built over the years that give his life meaning.

“When it’s all said and done, it’s all about the relationships,” he said.

Rosen candidly explained the sacrifices he and his family made, his wife often having to act as a single parent to their son and daughter in his absence.

According to the book’s listing on Amazon.com, “Rosen has established a reputation for his honesty, integrity and credibility.”

The stories he tells in his book describe the view he has had from “the best seat in the house” — an inside look into the worlds of sports, media and politics from the perspective of someone who has come to be known as a legend in his field.

“Being on air is a privilege,” Rosen said. “I have earned credibility, but it has to be earned every day.”

Rosen gives of himself to several charities and foundations. He is a part of former Vikings Hall of Fame defensive tackle Alan Page’s Page Education Foundation, which provides financial and mentoring assistance to students of color in exchange for those students’ commitment to volunteer service in the community.

Rosen is a member of the advisory board of the Athletes Committed to Educating Students (ACES) Foundation, an after-school tutoring and mentoring program.

“You need to pay it forward, give back, volunteer,” Rosen said. “It’s been the most rewarding thing I do.”

In addition to his obvious interest in sports, Rosen is a movie buff. When his dad was a sales representative for Paramount for 40 years, Rosen was able to screen movies all during his growing-up years.

“I don’t have time to go to actual movies now,” he said, “so instead of reviews I do previews.”

Rosen’s book signings have taken him to more than 50 different locations. His visit to Royalton was funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

“I did it,” he said. “I still don’t know how it happened. I’ve always felt that this was unbelievable that this was happening to me.”