It was a quarter to six on a Monday morning when we met on 395 Hudson Street.
For such a high profile radio personality, he was cool and collected. Thoughtful, witty and poised. Sporting a pair of Levi's, red and white Nikes and a matching Mitchell and Ness sweater, he wasn't dressed like how I'd imagined him to be. Or at least not how I imagined someone who commands the attention of millions of loyal listeners every day.
Between his time at Hot 97 and, now ESPN, Peter Rosenberg's name holds serious weight amongst the the hip-hop and sports crowds. As we made our way through the maze of doors towards the legendary Hot 97 on-air studio, we chatted like we'd known each other for far longer than we really did. Before I knew it, we were inside the studio with his morning show co-hosts Ebro Darden and Laura Stylez.
Then something interesting happened.
As casual as could be, Rosenberg put his headphones on, kicked his feet up and began to chat with his co-hosts like old pals. But it wasn't until I looked and saw a small "ON-AIR" sign lit up that it hit me. It wasn't just us. It was us plus a few million other ears.
But there was no change in pace. No scripts. No checklists. No preparation or throat clearing. Seeing this took me back to a conversation I had the month before with former Hot 97 programming director and 35 year radio industry veteran John Dimick.
"Nothing is as unscripted and free thinking as radio content. Problem is, it's likened to acting. It's the only medium that's one to one and if it's done right, it sounds local," he said. In the case of Peter Rosenberg, he transitioned from having a one on one conversation with me, to a one on one conversation with his co-hosts - and millions of listeners - without a hiccup. All without a paper in front of him.
Talk about done right.
From 6:00am-10:00am the conversation carried on, encompassing everything from sports, relationship hijinks and the hottest hip-hop artists of the moment to plenty of epic DJ Khaled sound bites. After the side-splitting morning show wrapped up, we headed into another studio where Rosenberg laid down two radio drops.
One for Papa Johns and another for HBO.
For all intents and purposes, Rosenberg has "made it". He earns a paycheck by speaking about topics he loves and he does it all via the two of the most influential - if not thee most influential - networks in the country. But getting to his position required an awful lot of work.
Hot 97 was a childhood dream. A dream that he had no qualms about working towards. Since age 17 he was involved in radio, first starting in college before grinding away in relative obscurity from 18 to 27. All in pursuit of his end game: his own gig at Hot 97.
"He followed up endlessly for two years straight." Dimick explained to me. Shortly after Dimick's exit and Ebro's appointment as program director, Rosenberg had his shot. In 2007, Rosenberg was DJing at a local McDonald's.
Then, that very same year the Maryland native made it to the big time.
Nowadays his schedule is full. But he's showed no signs of slowing down. On any given day, Rosenberg is heard across the airwaves from 6am to 10am, 4pm to 7pm and on Monday's from 12am to 2am.
Add in events and other happenings and he barely has time to sleep.
During our day together he barely had time to squeeze in a nap at his Upper West Side pad before heading to ESPN. Shortly after that, he was headed to a late night Kendrick Lamar event right in the city. He had an all-access pass.
According to him and the rest of the Hot 97 crew "Mondays are the slow days."