Five decades of playing gospel music for southwest Saskatchewan was celebrated yesterday with Nite Watch and Brother John.

Since 1974, John Peters has been hosting Nite Watch every weekday at 10:10 p.m., followed up by his Sunday show at 7 p.m. Introducing the songs, all of which he has vetted himself before airing. Brother John has never missed a single show in those 50 years. That puts him at roughly 15,600 shows aired.

Brother John was gratified to see so many people attending the Golden West Golden Anniversary celebration at the Innovation Centre in downtown Swift Current, with listeners travelling from as far away as Jackfish Lake to congratulate him.

"People don't send letters that much anymore and telephone calls are expensive these days," said Brother John. "Contact with the listeners has become more and more difficult all the time. However, I did say that the response to this event and to the dinner will be a small indication as to where Nite Watch goes from here on out."

Swift Current Mayor, Al Bridal, attended the celebration as a local dignitary. He recalled how he first met Brother John at a bible camp when he was only eight or nine years old. Now, he is grateful on those long drives late in the evening, when Brother John and Nite Watch come on the radio to keep him company.

"Sometimes you just need to sit and relax and think about life and think about God and what you're doing in this world," said Bridal. "Brother John gave us that time with his show."

Bridal wasn't alone in his commendation and praise of Brother John, who received video messages from Swift Current MLA Everett Hindley, Golden West CEO Elmer Hildebrand, regional manager Mike Saretsky, station manager for Swift Current Morgan Butler, and a few of the artists he has played over the years.

A pair of local artists took it upon themselves to perform for Brother John during the presentation. Darien Folks and Aradyn Norman from Swift Current sang for the crowd, regaling them with Elvis and Frank Sinatra.

Brother John got up to speak himself after being welcomed to the microphone by Magic 97’s Colin Powers. He shared stories from when he first started, to when he had a heart attack in the mid-90s.

"On the way to the hospital, I asked God what he was doing," said Brother John. "And it was as if I could hear a voice in my head. It said, 'Watch me'."

During Brother John's stay in the hospital, following treatments for his heart attack, he discussed how he earned day passes to continue his Nite Watch programming.

Another major takeaway for Brother John during that time was how many people he was able to put at ease in the hospital, be that through praying with them or playing his Nite Watch gospel music in the room for them.

"I thank God for my tender heart that can recognize people and their needs," said Brother John.

One of the people in attendance at the celebration was Josiah Cunningham, a listener all the way from the RM of Meota, north of North Battleford. He manages to pick up Nite Watch on CKSW 570 using a vintage 1955 RCA Victor Radio, originally made in Canada.

"Since the pandemic ... I haven't been able to go to live concerts," said Cunningham. "I was trying to map out programming and stuff when I found this (radio) could pick up CKSW."

Cunningham found Nite Watch after leaving his radio on one night after discovering CKSW 570. When he next checked in, he heard Brother John doing his intro to Nite Watch and immediately fell in love with the format and music.

"I listened to it, and I just loved his warm voice and all the songs he would play," said Cunningham. "It's been good in that way."

Some of the highlights Brother John had highlighted for him were how he managed to get the show running live from the radio tower itself, playing records on a record player after a vicious thunderstorm had knocked out power for Swift Current. Another was when he got to interview Colonel Sanders himself on Nite Watch.

Throughout his storied career, one thing has remained the same. Brother John introduces the songs and picks the music himself for every single show.

"I wish I could say that I have never had the feeling that I wanted to stop doing Nite Watch," said Brother John. "Anytime I've had those feelings, it seems like that same week I'll get a letter from somebody that said they don't know what we would do without Nite Watch. So, I keep on because I'm not doing it for myself, I'm doing it for someone else."

For now, Brother John has no plans of stopping. He feels this purpose was handed to him by a higher power. He doesn't want to give it up until he receives another purpose or a sign that the time to stop has come.