Public Radio Family Mourns Loss Of Sheryl Flowers

Teshima Walker, Tony Cox and Sheryl Flowers i i

Tell Me More producer Teshima Walker (left) shares a happy moment at NPR with former News and Notes host Tony Cox and producer Sheryl Flowers (far right). Courtesy of Tony Cox hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Tony Cox
Teshima Walker, Tony Cox and Sheryl Flowers

Tell Me More producer Teshima Walker (left) shares a happy moment at NPR with former News and Notes host Tony Cox and producer Sheryl Flowers (far right).

Courtesy of Tony Cox

Tavis Smiley Remembers Sheryl Flowers

I met Sheryl Flowers on a sunny spring day in Los Angeles. She interviewed me at a restaurant called Pann's on La Tijera Boulevard. She was tall with an athletic build. She was the color of cinnamon and her short afro was faded.

Sheryl was reserved.

She asked pointed questions and she listened to my responses very carefully. Her voice was calm and matter of fact when she asked why I wanted to be a part of her team.

"You have to be on time every day, the hours are brutal - the shift begins at 3:30a," she emphasized.

"This show is a big undertaking," she repeated a few times and explained that the folks she hired had to have what the job description called for and some tenacity.

"Are you that person?," she stared unblinking waiting for my response.

"Oh my," I thought. "She's something else."

And, from 2002 to 2004, I had an opportunity to figure out what that "something" was.

Sheryl got to work early. She stayed late. She wrote and edited scripts. And she rarely took a vacation. Her title indicated that she was a "manager," but Sheryl was comfortable performing any duty.

If I'm honest, I must admit that the staff, we weren't always kind to her. We didn't understand some of the tough decisions she had to make. The management and host made demands, and there stood Sheryl, balancing her way through the middle. She always seemed so steady — unflappable.

I admired those qualities.

As Sheryl battled cancer, I changed jobs twice and I always contacted her before I made a move. She always provided wise counsel. She was a good mentor and a dear friend.

I thought I had more time to talk with Sheryl, but I don't. I am going to miss her terribly. I can only hope that what I've learned from her over the years will help me guide another young woman, or man, through their journalism career.

Thank you, Sheryl.

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