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Melissa Riopka is an Alabama native with strong ties to the Tennessee Valley. A graduate of Cullman High School, she received her broadcasting degree from the University of Alabama.

From there, she traveled (slightly) north to Tennessee. After a great eight years as a reporter/anchor in Chattanooga, Melissa went to work at a Birmingham television station.

In 2010, it was time for another move following her husband’s job transfer. Now she and her family are happy to call Huntsville home.

Melissa currently anchors WHNT News 19 at 5 with Greg Screws and WHNT News 19 at 6:30 with Jerry Hayes.

When she’s not at work, you can usually find Melissa outside with her family, enjoying the hiking trails around Monte Sano or the waters of Lake Guntersville.

You can reach Melissa on Twitter @MelissaRiopka or at

Recent Articles
  • UNA raising awareness about suicide prevention with “Send Silence Packing” exhibit

    FLORENCE, Ala. – More than a thousand backpacks lay scattered across the lawn in front of the University of North Alabama’s Memorial Amphitheater, Thursday. They were not discarded by students. Rather, each was reverently placed to represent the 1,100 college students who commit suicide annually. “That’s really, really impactful to think of each backpack as a person,” says Dani Lukens. Lukens is the outreach coordinator for the “Send Silence Packing” exhibit, an initiative of the non-profit national organization Active Minds. Active […]

  • A Mother’s Loss: Talking About the Hard Stuff

    No matter how pulled together we may look on the outside. No matter how strong we may be. We all have “stuff.” Painful experiences, memories that rise unbidden, bringing an ache to our hearts. For many women, myself included, that heartache includes pregnancy loss. But because miscarriage is not something often talked about, comfort was hard to find. I felt trapped by grief. Unsure how — or even if — to bring it up. Would it make close friends and […]

  • A Mother’s Loss: Talking About the Hard Stuff

    No matter how pulled together we may look on the outside. No matter how strong we may be. We all have “stuff.” Painful experiences, memories that rise unbidden, bringing an ache to our hearts. I recently read a devotion that referenced the Greek philosopher Plato who said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” The devotion was about comfort. For many women, myself included, that battle Plato spoke of has included pregnancy loss. But because miscarriage is […]

  • Red Bay teenager killed in crash

    The Mississippi Highway Patrol is still investigating a four-vehicle crash in Tishomingo County that claimed the life of an Alabama teen. Troopers responded to MS Highway 366, near Golden, around 2 p.m. Monday. Authorities say it appears 17-year-old Bradley Wilemon of Red Bay was headed west in his 2002 Ford Mustang when he attempted to pass two vehicles. While he was trying to overtake them, troopers say he collided head-on with an eastbound pick-up truck. The truck was also being driven […]

  • Another delay for Sen. Jeff Sessions

    WASHINGTON D.C. – Senator Jeff Sessions has been dealt yet another delay in his quest to become the next U.S. Attorney General. The Senate Judiciary Committee was expected to approve his nomination Tuesday, advancing it to a full Senate vote. Instead, Democrats used a procedural move to delay the process. Although Sessions has denied any role in the crafting of President Trump’s controversial travel ban, Democrats on the committee cited his deep influence in the new administration and questioned whether he […]

  • Congrats to some S-U-P-E-R students!

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Congratulations are in order for some hard-working, quick-thinking elementary students. It’s not easy standing on a stage, trying to remember whether “bemused” has two “e’s” or an “e” and an “i.” In fact, it’s enough to leave anyone feeling a bit bemused. That’s why I was so impressed with the poise and confidence exhibited by the students in Friday’s spelling bee at Goldsmith-Schiffman Elementary School. It was a pleasure to serve as a pronouncer for the event, which is a preliminary for […]

  • Former children’s minister arrested on additional sex abuse charge

    MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – A former children’s minister has been arrested again on an additional charge of sex abuse of a child. James “Javie” McNeal was arrested Thursday on another count of sexual abuse of a child less than 12.  He was booked in the Madison County Jail on $30,000 bond. The Madison County Sheriff’s Office said another child came forward to make similar claims against McNeal. McNeal, 39, was initially arrested in December on two counts of sexual abuse of […]

  • Check that chocolate, salmonella concerns prompt voluntary recall

    The US Food and Drug Administration released the following announcement about possible salmonella contamination in some popular chocolate products: Palmer Candy Company (, a privately-held, fifth-generation manufacturer of chocolate and holiday confections, announced today a limited recall of certain chocolate products after being informed by a supplier that a milk powder ingredient used in a compound chocolate coating that they supply to Palmer Candy Company has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The voluntary recall, in cooperation with the […]

  • Did you add a new pet to your family? Some tips on helping a furry family member make the transition

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Whether by adoption or purchase, many families add a pet to their home during the holidays. Sadly, some of these animals are later abandoned after not “working out.” With that in mind, we spoke with a local animal advocate about ways new pet owners can help the animals adjust to their new environment. Ideally, Maranda Mink with the Spay/Neuter Action Project (SNAP) says owners would spend time researching their decision beforehand. Is this animal a good fit […]

  • Annual “Blanket & Cold Weather Gear Drive” continues as need rises with cold temps

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The North Alabama Coalition for the Homeless is once again collecting blankets and cold weather gear for the most vulnerable members of our community. This donation drive has been going on since early October. But donations are dwindling as the cold temperatures move in later this week. NACH is collecting: Sleeping bags Blankets Coats/Jackets Gloves/Socks Thermal Underwear Warm Hats/Toboggans Sweatshirts/pants Scarves Items may be gently used or new. Adult sizes only, please. Donations may be dropped off […]

  • 2017 shaping up to be a big year for HEALS

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – For more than 18 years, HEALS (Health Establishments at Local Schools), Inc. has been making health care available to children who might otherwise go without essential services. The non-profit continues to grow, expanding on-site medical, dental and optometry care at schools in Huntsville and Madison County. Next year is shaping up to be a big one. In January 2017, HEALS Executive Director Connie Carnes says a dental and optometry clinic will open at Lincoln Academy in Huntsville. Another clinic, […]

  • What many elderly need this holiday season? Food, medicine and basic necessities

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The 2nd Annual “Angels for the Aging” charity drive is now underway. Through Wednesday, November 30th, grocery store gift cards are being collected for CASA of Madison County and Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments (TARCOG) to distribute to elderly, disabled and homebound clients. The cards will help provide medications, food and other basic necessities to some of our most vulnerable neighbors. The cards may be dropped off at the following locations: Huntsville Health and Rehabilitation […]