MILWAUKEE — TMJ4 is celebrating Sean O'Flaherty, an incredible behind-the-scenes hero who has dedicated 50 years of service to the news station.
“I call him father O’Flaherty. Mainly because he’s the caretaker," Carole Meekins, a long-time anchor at TMJ4, said.
“50 years. There is probably no other employee at any other TV station in the country with that kind of tenure," Mike Jacobs, a former long-time anchor at TMJ4, said.
"Long before there was Siri, there was Sean," Charles Benson, an anchor at TMJ4, said.
Sean is the one who makes the entire newsroom operate. The one who has all the keys to all the locks. The one with knowledge of the things no one else knew about. Sean is the one you want having your back, because if he has your back, you will be okay.
"He is the key component," Charles Benson said.
Sean started at TMJ4 on June 5, 1971. 50 years ago, the Bucks won their first and only NBA title. 50 years ago, Richard Nixon was president. 50 years ago, TMJ4 hired the best person imaginable.
“Everyone of us are expendable, every last one of us. Not Sean," Carole Meekins said.
Sean has done just about every job in the newsroom. From the production side, to editing, to reporting. He has every skill set in the book. In 2020, he was instrumental in keeping TMJ4 on the air and answering any questions people had as the newsroom transitioned to remote working.
"In the pandemic, I don’t know how we could have done as much as we did without him," Benson said.
For those who know Sean, it's clear his favorite snack is Cheez-Its. He has boxes and boxes in his desk drawers. He washes it down with Mountain Dew too. Those aren't just his snacks, though. It's for anyone who is having a tough day and needs a break. Coming to get Cheez-Its is really a short escape from the craziness of the newsroom to chat with Sean briefly. Or if you are just hungry and need a snack, you know which drawer to open.
"If you’re putting in one of those 24/7 days, you’re just working your tail off, Sean’s still there with a handful of Cheez-Its just to get through the hunger crunch as well," Benson said.
But his impact goes beyond the TMJ4 newsroom. He has touched the lives of so many around southeastern Wisconsin. So much so, the City of Milwaukee declared that June 5 be Sean O'Flaherty Day.
"Every TV station in the country needs a Sean O’Flaherty," Mike Jacobs said.
But it's not just every newsroom. It's every company, every home, every person needs a Sean O'Flaherty in their life. He's the person who is there to help, day or night, rain or shine, and no matter the circumstance. He will always have the answer and will probably have a box of Cheez-Its in hand too.
Thank you Sean for everything that you have done for the station, us as journalists, and more importantly, help us grow personally.