CBS forecaster revisits alma mater on television

THE BALTIMORE SUN

They say you can't go home again, but that's just what CBS weather forecaster Mark McEwen did yesterday, and he got to take the country with him.

He's bragged about his alma mater on the air for years, but the 1972 graduate got to show it off to viewers as he broadcast Monday's weather for "CBS This Morning" from inside his beloved Arundel High School.

Anchors Harry Smith and Paula Zahn were at the Maryland Science Center.

Mr. McEwen said they've been hearing him talk about the school, and his wrestling coach, for years.

"I had to make sure I didn't cry when we did the interview. Buddy Hepfer, he's the coolest," Mr. McEwen said after concluding his final "takes" in the school library.

"His ideas of discipline, how to be a champion, how to be a gracious winner and a gracious loser -- I've never forgotten those lessons. They're part of my fabric. I've taken them with me all these years, and being able to show America this guy is great."

A stroll down the hallways earlier in the morning brought back sweet memories for Mr. McEwen, especially his senior year in which he was undefeated in wrestling.

Of course, he had a little more hair then, and dark-rimmed glasses, as he noted when he shared his 1972 yearbook photo with viewers.

He also had a chance to page through a scrapbook Mr. Hepfer made for him that contained old wrestling score cards, newspaper clips, photos and a copy of Theodore Roosevelt's essay on "The Battle of Life."

"That's part of that little booklet that I give to every wrestler," Mr. Hepfer said of the essay. "It shows pretty much my philosophy on coaching and life -- the things I believe in, and the things I hope they'll carry on with them."

Mr. Hepfer didn't get a chance to tell on the air the story about one of the moments when Mr. McEwen really impressed him. It was during a match between his team and the Severn Park High School team, which was on a 38-game winning streak.

"I went into the locker room to give them last-minute instructions and to say the prayer, but Mark McEwen turned around. He told me, 'Get out of here, Coach. We've got 'em,' " Mr. Hepfer recalled. "We won that match 38-8. When Mark pinned his heavyweight, there was pandemonium."

There was a similar excitement in the school as well with Mr.

McEwen's return, with students asking for autographs, eager to talk to the alumnus.

Editors of the student newspaper, the Spectrum, waited patiently for an interview with a man who once sold subscriptions to get their paper going. It's distributed free now.

Jennifer Martin said she was impressed as she listened to Mr. McEwen describe his first days as a stand-up comic in California, his recollections of life as a disc jockey spinning the rock 'n' roll records made by a young Bruce Springsteen, and his life in television.

"It gives us hope that life is not just college and a 9-to-5 job, that it can be something exciting," said Ms. Martin, managing editor of the Spectrum.

Mr. McEwen had fun talking to the students, too, laughing and telling stories during breaks in the show.

Later, he talked about the importance of education to him and his wife, Judith Lonsdale-McEwen. They have been married three years. Although they don't have children, Mr. McEwen said that when the time comes, he'll most likely send his children to public school.

"My wife's parents are schoolteachers. They don't get paid enough and they don't get enough respect," he said.

"These people are building the future of our country and they're not getting the recognition they deserve. I'm sitting here because of what happened in this school," he said.

He thought a lot about his success on the early morning drive from the train station in Baltimore.

"I've driven a lot of places at 4:30 in the morning, and the signs on the road didn't mean anything," Mr. McEwen said. "But this time I wasn't going to my parents' house. I was going to do my job. I'm bringing America in the doors of Arundel. This is the best time I've had on TV."

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