As ‘The Sports’ Buffet’ Says Goodbye, Jeff Harkness Reflects on His Friend Brad Peterson
This is a tough day.
In the nearly quarter century I’ve called Sioux Falls home, there is no one person I’ve looked up to more, or have been more honored to call my friend than Brad Peterson.
Today, Brad and I will do our final ‘Sports Buffet’ together, as he exits after this weekend’s AA Basketball Tournament to pursue other endeavors.
And while it may have only been three-and-a-half years on the show together, you need to understand, this story goes back more than 20 years.
When Brad and I stood together at the Sioux Falls Arena yesterday for the Summit League Women’s Championship game, my mind wandered back to the early 1990’s when I first sat down with Brad at the base of the north bleachers of the Arena. I can remember it like it was yesterday.
I was still finding my way in Sioux Falls as a new face on TV, and was smart enough to realize that I needed to get to know that talented guy I had heard on the radio, working his play-by-play magic with a mixture of ease, authenticity, and a unparalleled amount of professionalism.
What I didn’t know until I sat down with Brad that first time was that what I heard on the radio was just a small part of what this man was all about. He is simply the kindest, most generous, most unassuming person I have ever met. It took me all of one conversation to figure that out, but sadly I realize now as I write this, I’ve been taking it for granted all of these years.
Our paths crossed several times in the ensuing years, usually around state tournament time. There were a lot of late night prep sessions in hotel rooms in Rapid City, pouring over stats, talking match-ups, and sharing our love for sports. There were even a few (but not nearly enough) opportunities to share a microphone together, with Brad kind enough to include me on one of his shows.
It was in those moments that something magical happened. We found that those same easy, comfortable chats we had privately, were actually the same kinds of back-and-forth interactions we had on-the-air. It was special each and every time we got to share the airwaves together, at least for us.
It was in those early moments that the dream began. From then on, whenever Brad and I would talk, the conversation would inevitably work around to one of us saying “I really wish we had our own show together, wouldn’t that be great?".
Fast forward 20 years or so to October 2009, when I was asked to join ‘The Sports Buffet’ on ESPN 99.1. I couldn’t believe my good fortune, someone was going to pay me to sit in a room for an hour everyday and talk with my friend – dreams really do come true!
During the past 41 months, not a day went by when Brad and I didn’t thank each other for being there, and for never forgetting what we had always set out to do.
And now, as we get set to ‘wind the clock’ for one final hour together, I realize it’s all been a blur. A sweet, wonderful, fulfilling, and fantastic blur. And I’ve loved every minute of it.
I know I’m not losing a friend, that bond will never be broken. But I am losing a partner, and that hurts like hell.
I wish everyone out there had someone in their lives like Brad. He has touched the lives of so many people in this town over the years, not just through sports, but in everything he does. I have never met a person who truly loves people the way Brad does.
Devout Christian man, amazing father, consummate professional, and my wonderful friend – thanks for the memories Brad – and for the dream…