Rafael Sanchez has been a television fixture in Indianapolis for more than two decades, anchoring Call 6 for Help during most of his time at ABC affiliate WRTV Channel 6. The news feature has been part of the station’s DNA for decades.
“I am among a long list of journalists entrusted to carry out the Call 6 for Help mission to hold the powerful accountable, to expose wrong doing and to help people resolve concerns important to them,” Sanchez says of his role. That is his job and that is who he is fundamentally, fair and honest. (Sanchez also has a humorous side, but more about that later.)
The Call 6 for Help team gets dozens of stories every day and they go through them all trying to determine which ones go “beyond just the pothole,” Sanchez says. “The systematic issue of what has led up to that problem is what we explore.
Why isn’t the city or state government doing more to help? Is there something broken in the system? So our job is to figure that out. At the end of the day, I just love being able to help people.” The everyday nitty gritty of Sanchez’s Call 6 for Help work casts him as a social worker on TV.
Because he is in the public eye, Sanchez is approached all the time – in the grocery store, on the street and definitely on social media. He likes the connection to the public that he is a part of. His team at Call 6 for Help chooses stories that they say will have the most impact. He reflects on a recent call that he got from a guy whose father was facing surgery to have a leg amputation and there was an insurance issue.
The surgery was scheduled in two hours from when Sanchez got the call. If he had gotten the request earlier perhaps he could have helped, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time. “It does weigh on my mind not being able to help in time. There are people that face such grave issues, and they just need a helping hand up.
Most people don’t want a hand out, just a hand up. Hoosiers are proud and independent. Unfortunately we can’t help everyone, and that is frustrating.” There are some situations that are brought to the attention of the Call 6 for Help team that don’t fall under the category of having a big impact, and in those situations Sanchez says he will spend some time on the phone with that person, walking them through some steps that they can follow to help themselves. For example, he might help a person understand their consumer rights, or he might help someone craft a letter. Sanchez also believes that it is then that person’s duty to pay it forward. Not every cry for help warrants a TV crew and cameras.
Sanchez grew up in New York City. He came to Indiana to attend Franklin College and its journalism program. He reflects on third grade when he was at PF 7 in the Bronx saying, “I never dreamed that I would grow up and settle down in Indiana or be an investigator and social worker on television.”
Sanchez got his first television job in Yuma, Ariz. He describes it as the hottest and most western town in the state. “The mountains there are beautiful, but it would get so hot – like 130 degrees! You had to drink water all the time because if you didn’t, you would get salt deposits on your cheeks!” grins Sanchez. “But you did get to wear khaki shorts and cute polo’s there because it was so hot.”
One of the things that people don’t expect when they get to know Sanchez is that he is quite the prankster. He is also very funny.
“I love to laugh, and I think people need to laugh more often. Life can be heavy. There are so many curveballs we get as parents, as siblings and as working professionals. We don’t have to agree on everything, or anything, but why can’t we just be pleasant to each other and laugh.”
Sanchez’s hobby is essentially to help social service organizations raise money, and he is very good at it. He does about 50 community events throughout the year. He likes to dress up in shiny jackets, some with pineapples or jaguars or flamingos or money symbols, depending on the event. Sanchez is all about fundraising, and apparently, he raises the roof! He will ride in on a skateboard or a bicycle to get the room’s attention.
The trunk of his car is like a closet, which is fine with his wife Beth. She doesn’t want those costumes cluttering up the house. Rafael and Beth met at Franklin College where they both earned their undergraduate degrees. They have been married 25 years and have a daughter who is a college senior and a son who is a high school senior.
“I love what I do and all the things that come attached with it. As a person of faith I feel blessed.
I am fortunate every day to be able to help people, meet interesting individuals and make connections with great Hoosiers. I tell people, just do one little thing that has a positive impact on someone else.”
What does he attribute his success and longevity to? “It’s all of the great people you surround yourself with, because they are the ones that make your job easier. I could not do this without that wonderful team at RTV6.”
By Julie Patterson, Freelance Writer