Brad Bradley’s Surprise Guest at 6:00 a.m.
If you ever want to find Brad Bradley, just show up at Kuby’s at 6:00 a.m. and you’ll find him there, holding court at the counter. He enjoys a light breakfast, the daily newspaper and warm conversation with the other regulars. Then around 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. the 80-something-year-old photographer is ready to start his day.
One guy in St. Petersburg, Florida, knows Bradley’s routine and will pop in a surprise him from time to time.
Such was the case on Tuesday, March 9, when Kevin Sullivan was in town and walked into Kuby’s to surprise the popular Park Cities photographer.
On one hand they are simply the dearest of friends, but on the other hand their breakfast at Kuby’s is like a meeting of two media legends.
Bradley has been shooting pictures for SMU and Highland Park High School since the late 1940s. He and his father-in-law, Jim Laughead, had the most influential sports photography business in the United States, shooting most of the major college and NFL teams. They would shoot individual “posed-action” shots then hire a local person to sell the photos. At Purdue University the person Bradley hired in the late ‘70s was an eager media relations student named Kevin Sullivan.
“There was nobody else like him,” recalled Bradley. “Sully never met a stranger. He was the greatest salesman we ever had.”
As fate would have it, Sullivan landed in Dallas right out of college. In May of 1980 he was hired by the Dallas Mavericks to help with public relations. This was before the new NBA franchise had any players.
“One day I’m driving down Hillcrest Avenue across from SMU when I see a storefront for Bradley Photography,” recalled Sullivan. “I almost had a wreck! I couldn’t believe it. There it was, the world headquarters.”
Sullivan went on to a distinguished 18-year career with the Mavericks. As vice president of communications he was something of a legend in media circles in Dallas and around the NBA. Dallas Morning News sports columnist Barry Horn summed up Sullivan’s reputation last year when he wrote, “Kevin Sullivan is on Dallas’ media Mount Rushmore.”
Sullivan left Dallas to become the VP of Communications with NBC Sports, then was promoted to Senior VP with NBC Universal. In 2006 he was recruited by President George W. Bush to become the White House Communications Director.
When President Bush left the White House, Sullivan became a hot media free agent. A Dallas friend, Ken Luce won the Sully lottery when he hired Sullivan to work with his company, Weber Shandwick, a global public relations company. Sullivan now consults with clients such as General Motors.
Sullivan has developed a national following as a sports media columnist with Yahoo Sports. He has a weekly meeting in Detroit with GM executives. He conducts media training for several professional sports teams across the nation. But what he loves the most is dropping in on Brad Bradley at Kuby’s at 6:00 a.m.
Time stands still as the two friends enjoy each other’s company. Then Sullivan has a plane to catch, Bradley has some photos to shoot and they drift out of each other’s lives until the next surprise meeting at Kuby’s.
Kirk Dooley is a University Park writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.