J.D. Peters, long-time host of “Nite Watch with Brother John” is the first Canadian to win the Golden Mic Award for “Excellence in radio broadcasting and in the promotion of Southern Gospel Music.” Attending the official presentation Mar. 20 in Regina are Jim Hefner, Southmen Quartet; Don Miller, Concert Promoter with Promotions of Praise, Regina; and Mr. Wayne Elhard, MLA for Cypress Hills, who presented a hand-written congratulatory note from Premier Brad Wall. A congratulatory certificate was also received from David Anderson, MP, on behalf of the Government of Canada.
The golden voice of CKSW’s “Nite Watch with Brother John” belongs to producer and host John “Jack” Peters of Swift Current, and his broadcasting talent has earned recognition for him from the United States publication Singing News Magazine for “Excellence in radio broadcasting and in the promotion of Southern Gospel Music.”
In earning the honour, Peters becomes the first Canadian to win the award, and his recognition appeared in the February 2012 edition of the magazine.
“It was kind of ironic that I appeared in the February issue of the magazine and it also happened to be the month of my 75th birthday. It was kind of a nice birthday present to be recognized by your peers in that fashion.”
The award was officially presented during a Southern Gospel concert in Regina last month.
“The owner of the group that did the presentation on behalf of Singing News is from Alabama. They arranged with Wayne Elhard to represent the Premier in Regina, which was really nice, and the audience was very responsive with their applause.
“It’s a nice feeling,” Peters said, then quipped with a humble grin, “My hat still fits.” He claims he has “put more people to sleep in Saskatchewan than anyone else” because the program runs from 10 p.m. to midnight Monday to Friday and 7 p.m. on Sundays.
Peters explained that Nite Watch is one of the only programs of this type that doesn’t ask the public to send money for support.
“We feel we have a different approach. I wouldn’t say it’s hard-sell religion but it’s something that gives people some strength for today and some hope for tomorrow.”
The show covers most of Saskatchewan directly off the air waves, but is also available through SaskTel Max and via online streaming.
The program, which has been on the air for 40 years, has made a difference in thousands of lives. Peters has served as producer and host for 38 years.
“A letter we received from one of the surgeons at the University Hospital a number of years ago said, ‘A number of my patients listen to your program every night and I can tell which ones have and which ones haven’t by the kind of night they’ve had.’
Another note from a very young mother left a profound impression on Peters.
“She wrote she had just left the Swift Current Union Hospital and was on her way home, and she had dropped off her very sick boy and was leaving him at the hospital and was really concerned about it and it was just at midnight, and she said ‘I had the radio on and I heard the words of your theme song’, where Jim Reeves, the last line says ‘God’s keeping the night watch for you and for me’. And she said ‘That gave me an assurance that things were going to be okay.’”
“So it doesn’t take a whole song to encourage somebody,” Peters noted.
“You’ll find a lot of the music we have on Nite Watch is geared to people who are experiencing difficulty, they’re lonely, and a number of folks have lost a life partner, will write us or meet us on the street, where they say I don’t know how I could get through the night without the program.
“We try to present something that in today’s busy world, I pray that we’re meeting a need in slowing things down for people when they want to retire, and I think we have achieved that for the most part.”
In 1992, Peters received the Canadian Gospel Music Association Covenant Award for having the best program in the inspirational traditional in Canada.
In 1994, Peters experienced a heart attack that nearly kept him off the air for the only time during the show’s history, but providential pre-planning and an understanding doctor enabled him to get a day pass to keep up production.
“For some reason or other I was going to be away Wednesday through Friday, so I had prepared programs for that time. Wouldn’t you know it, that Wednesday morning in the middle of January, I had a heart attack.
En route to the hospital, Peters admitted he struggled with the “Why me?” question, when he had spent much of his life in service to God and the people of Saskatchewan.
“I was reminded that ‘in all things give thanks’ because something good will come out of it.”
Peters spent the week in ICU, insisting that he had to be “outta here” by the following Monday because he had a program to produce. Monday morning came, and he finally convinced his doctor to give him a day pass for about two hours. When he returned to the ICU, he had four room-mates who became instant fans.
Peters said he raises funds through advertising to purchase airtime for Nite Watch.
“I’m not a station employee, so I market advertizing to cover the production and our office costs. As far as the program is concerned, my job is Marketing Advertizing, but … I consider it a public service that we’ve done for all this time.”
Another of the highlights of Peters’ Nite Watch production was the opportunity to conduct a private interview Colonel Saunders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame during his 88th birthday tour.
“I had about 15 minutes with him just on his own. He was a wonderful person to talk to.” Peters learned that after he sold the American side of his business, Saunders gave back many of his Canadian franchise fees to franchisees to donate to their favourite charities.
When he asked the Colonel why, that gentleman answered, “No point in being the richest man in the graveyard.”
“In my opinion,” said Peters, “it was one of the nicest opportunities I have had in my lifetime.”
What’s ahead for the Golden Mic winner?
“It probably won’t change anything. If anything, it’ll encourage me to keep on.”