Mary Beth Marsden signs off at WMAR tonight

If you cannot be in front of a TV set Wednesday at 6 p.m., set a DVR or have someone set a DVR for you to catch Mary Beth Marsden's farewell to WMAR viewers after 21 years at the station.

Marsden's last broadcast for Channel 2 will be the 6 o'clock news and it will close with a piece that she has been working on this week that looks back at her career at the station.


"I'm writing my obituary," Marsden said with a bit of newsroom humor when I caught up with her Monday night prior to the 11 p.m. newscast. "And I have to say I actually really am enjoying it."

As the two pictures (one from today and the other from 1995) indicate, Marsden has come of age at WMAR's anchor desk.


"Twenty-one years is a long time; I kind of grew up here," she said, explaining that the Wednesday night farewell piece was taking a little longer to write than she thought it would.

"I've been looking at videotape of some of my early work," The University of Maryland, College Park graduate said. "And you know how you can get really caught up looking at old pictures and the hairstyles and the jackets and everything. That's me."

Twenty-one years is a long time in the world of TV news, and Marsden enjoyed that kind of run because she is such a good fit for Baltimore. For all its sins, when local TV news gets it right in terms of matching a TV persona with the ineffable sensibility of a place like Baltimore, the result is special.

From the comments posted at this blog when I first reported the news of Marsden's departure on Nov. 19, it is clear that the 48-year-old anchorwoman holds a special place in the hearts of many area viewers. Commenter after commenter told her, "You will be missed."

Marsden said she is grateful for that, and that's one of the reasons she wanted to close Wednesday's 6 p.m. newscast with a piece that does go back to her beginnings at the station.

"I want to try and say thanks and to bring some closure," she said.

When asked what she was feeling as she worked on the piece, Marsden said,  "very grounded...a little sad... and excited and relieved."

Marsden has been carrying a huge load lately solo anchoring the 5, 6 and 11 p.m. newscast. She even read sports stories and scores since the station no longer has a full-time sports anchor. She has accepted a buyout offer made to union members at WMAR. Anchorman Terry Owens, who also accepted a buyout, is leaving the station at the end of the week after 17 years.


The mother of three says she is looking forward to spending the holidays with her husband and children free of workaday world worries. "That's a real gift," she adds.

After the holidays, Marsden says she's "open to possibilities." Here's hoping she finds work elsewhere in Baltimore TV if that is what she wants.

Her closing piece tonight will include the first story she did at WMAR, a "look at changes at the Towson Library." It will also include what she described as "my biggest blooper." That one involves Marsden unable to stop laughing on-air.

"It's from '91, and I just completely fall apart," she says, remembering that a station executive at the time questioned whether she had the maturity and seriousness to replace Sally Thorner at the anchor desk as Thorner was about to start a maternity leave. (Thorner, who moved on to WJZ, is leaving that station on Dec. 16.)

There is a changing of the guard taking place this month in local TV news, and what happens tonight with Marsden marks the official start of it. Like most farewells, it does feel a "little sad," to borrow Marsden's phrase.

And that's because the commenters at this blog are absolutely right: Mary Beth, you will be missed.