Sid Speaks Out

IMG_0504By Robin Hodes

Sid Rosenberg is an open book.

This brutally honest, outrageously outspoken radio personality rules the airwaves on 640 AM Sports, where he hosts the morning drive with a refreshing frankness that endears throngs of fans.

Growing up as a boy in Brooklyn, he loved sports, but never gave a thought to radio, never took a communications class in high school, and never even worked at a college station. But just by doing what he loves best — talking — he found himself owning nine hours of radio real estate on the nation’s premier sports talk radio station, New York City’s WFAN in 2001, just three years after starting his radio career. He hosted the New York Giants pre-game show for three seasons, talked sports on the “Imus in the Morning” program through 2005, appeared on numerous news shows including “Hardball,” with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, and was frequently featured on “Howard Stern.”

Though he jokes about the pay, he finds his job most rewarding in that it gives him the forum to speak his mind. “Just imagine the opportunity to discuss whatever topic is on your mind, to go on the air every day and deliver your opinion on things you might discuss with your friends in a restaurant or bar,” describes Rosenberg. “People will agree or disagree with what I say, but either way, it starts a nice conversation.”

Having guests disagree with him is, in fact, something he’s completely OK with. “If somebody disagrees with me, it gives me the chance to clarify and make my point, which I welcome.” Despite his rousing popularity, Sid Rosenberg doesn’t consider himself very well-liked, and he’s completely fine with that too. “Wherever I work, probably more people dislike me than like me,” he admits, adding, “If you check my Twitter, you’ll see some god-awful things.”

Comfortable as he may be with speaking his mind, Rosenberg finds today’s politically-correct climate something of an obstacle to overcome. “I’m an opinionated guy. I used to work with Howard Stern where I could say what I wanted, but the American media has changed over the last decade.” He finds society today much more sensitive compared to 10 years ago, which causes him, reluctantly, to walk on eggshells. “Nowadays, you can say something innocuous, and because people are so sensitive, they’ll misconstrue what you say and turn it into what they deem offensive, sometimes on purpose, just to make you look bad.”  Though he might have to be a little more careful than in the past, listeners will attest that Rosenberg is hardly one to hold his tongue.

And he is never, ever, at a loss for words. “My show in Miami is not just a sports show,” Rosenberg explains. “I also cover news, politics, entertainment, and pop culture on a daily basis. I discuss so many topics that even in four hours, it’s hard to run out of things to say.”

Rosenberg knows that he’s good at his job. (It’s the stuff he does the other 20 hours a day that he says he has to work at!) But that’s not to say he doesn’t ever have stage fright. “The first time I did a sports report on Imus, I was literally terrified,” he confesses. “It was also nerve wracking the first time I sat down with Howard Stern.” However, through his years of experience, which have included interviewing the biggest names in sports, from Wayne Gretzky to Shaquille O’Neal, he has mastered the art of taking control. “When you’re on my show, you’re in my realm, even if you’re ten times bigger than me,” he says. “I’ve learned from the best how to interview. I can take a guy with a reputation for being ornery, and make him almost likeable.”

Having spoken with everyone who’s anyone in the world of sports, Rosenberg finds it important to draw a distinction between those he admires and those he enjoys, naming Muhammad Ali and Arthur Ashe among the former, and Darryl Strawberry or Lawrence Taylor among the latter. “Some guys are not exactly great role models, but are great players.” And as opinionated as he may be, he never lets personal bias take over. “I’m a Knick fan who hates the Bulls, but how could you not admire what Michael Jordan did on the court?”

His listeners might love him, hate him, or love to hate him, but one thing’s for sure: they know Sid Rosenberg well. They know what food he likes, what movie he last took his son Gabriel to see, when his daughter Ava’s birthday is, and that his wife’s name is Danielle. “The one thing about me is that there’s a not a lot you don’t know about me,” he says, “And I think to a certain extent that’s part of my charm.”

Bonus Points: Sid Rosenberg goes into overtime, sharing a few more tidbits you might like to know (in case you didn’t already):

On Stern vs. Imus:  “Howard Stern’s a much nicer guy. I worked with Don Imus every day for six years, and was on and off his show for nine years. He’s angry, cantankerous, and a pain in the a**.” He had an email fight with Imus just weeks ago, using every expletive in the book. Yet he calls him “loyal” and names him one of the biggest influences in his career.

On his book: “I wrote a book about me, not the Dolphins or the Heat or LeBron James, in which I was painfully honest, about good times and bad times and life itself.” People have embraced the book because it’s relatable, since everyone has their struggles and demons. “I didn’t write the title (‘You’re Wrong and You’re Ugly’) but once I found it kinda catchy, especially after I heard what my advance was.”

On watching sports:  “I’ve been covering sports for a long time, and watching them my whole life,but watching Ava play tennis is as good as it gets in this part of my life.” Rosenberg’s daughter trains with Rick Massi, who also worked with tennis greats like Andy Roddick, Jennifer Capriati, and the Williams sisters.

On his eponymous pizza:  “(Radio icon) Neil Rogers,  God rest his soul, used to call me “Sid the Kid,” so yes, the margarita pizza pie at The Meatball Room restaurant in Boca Raton is named after me.” (The owner and executive chef were familiar with Sid’s career and big fans of his show on WFAN in New York.

On U.S. Presidents:  “I’ve interviewed three presidents along the way, both Bushes and Clinton, and Bill Clinton, aside from being the most popular president during my lifetime next to Reagan, is really a nice guy.” Clinton was in office during the formidable years when Sid first got into politics. He once sent a picture of himself, Clinton, and Yogi Berra, to the White House, and Clinton signed and returned it.