LIVE: Watch 4:30-7am news on WHNT News 19
  • Follow me on:

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
  • promo293845808

    New McNair Junior High ready for new school year

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Civic and community leaders joined Huntsville City School officials, parents, students and faculty for Tuesday morning’s ribbon-cutting at McNair Junior High. Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski welcomed everyone to the system’s newest school, saying, “it’s been a long time coming and yet, it will stand for many, many years in the future.” “Through its doors, will pass future leaders in medicine, aerospace, politics, the military and untold fields we can’t even imagine today,” he predicted. The new McNair Junior […]

  • Katherine Woods receives a plaque recognizing her home as the 500th HEEM project.

    HEEM program celebrates 500th extreme energy makeover

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – As intense heat settles over the Tennessee Valley and air conditioners run non-stop, some Huntsville Utilities customers are actually seeing their bills go down. The company is celebrating its 500th home energy makeover. The projects are completed at no cost to qualified homeowners, through the Huntsville Extreme Energy Makeover (HEEM) program. Each makeover is intended to reduce a home’s energy consumption by 25%. The program is funded by an $11.7 million TVA grant. HU President Jay Stowe […]

  • Miracle Bash

    From Mash to Bash: Brewing up a signature beer to help Tennessee Valley babies

    MADISON, Ala. – A Madison brewery is putting its beer to work for some of the Valley’s most fragile babies. On Friday, August 5, the Miracle Bash Brew will make its official debut at the 2016 Miracle Bash. The event – a casual, evening party – is a fundraiser for the Melissa George Neonatal Memorial Fund. All proceeds will go to the purchase of new equipment for the Huntsville Hospital NICU. When Rocket Republic Brewing Company was approached about creating a […]

  • Student TJ Carney and Bluecoat member Ben Kreis do a drum roll exercise during Thursday's Blue Way South camp.

    Drumming up an educational experience for young musicians

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Young area musicians got a chance to attend a new program Thursday. The Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps conducted a day-long camp for student performers from across North Alabama. The BLUE WAY – South was a chance for these students, ages 14-21, to perform alongside the elite drum corps at Milton Frank Stadium. The corps was in Huntsville, ahead of Friday’s DCI North Alabama 2016, a regional competition for some of the world’s top marching music ensembles. […]

  • promo292635538

    Play Beep Ball!

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A shout of “play ball!” echoed through the gym, as a batter took his place in front of the plate. With the swing of his bat, the large yellow, beeping ball flew toward six players, spread out in a line. This is beep ball. It’s baseball for blind or visually impaired athletes and on a recent afternoon, about a dozen people gathered to play at the UAH Fitness Center. The game was organized by UAH’s Ability Sport Network (ASN) […]

  • (Photo Credit: The Neighborhood Thrift Store)

    School supplies for students; Pride for parents

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Parents know. Getting a child ready to go back to school is expensive. There are new clothes to buy. Haircuts to get. School supply lists to fill. In 2015, one survey found parents expected to spend an average of $630 on back-to-school expenses. For families, already struggling, that kind of spending is impossible. In fact, simply providing their children with the basic classroom necessities is a hardship. That’s where the Neighborhood Thrift Store comes in. The outreach of Second […]

  • Jerilyn Johnson is executive director of New Futures, Inc. - the Huntsville area's only homeless family shelter

    What it means to be a homeless family in the Huntsville area

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Being homeless is hard enough.  But to be a homeless family introduces an entirely new set of struggles. One struggle? Simply finding a shelter that will accept you. Single mothers with teenage sons. Single fathers with daughters. Married couples with children. These are all families that would be turned away by most traditional shelters, due to rules requiring those of opposite sex to remain segregated. The typical cut-off for a child is 13 years old. At that age, he […]

  • promo292218299

    Miracle Bash 2016 tickets on sale, celebrating NICU babies and helping more miracles happen

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – No one plans to end up in a neonatal intensive care unit. No mother anticipates leaving the hospital without her baby. No father is prepared to see his child covered in wires, surrounded by the beep and whir of life-supporting machines. But when a baby enters the world in need of a little – or a lot – of help, a neonatal intensive care unit or NICU can be a life-saver. Each year, more than 1,000 newborns are […]

  • Groundbreaking for the new Sonnie Hereford Elementary, to open in 2016. (Melissa Riopka/WHNT News 19)

    Huntsville City Schools breaks ground on new Sonnie Hereford Elementary

      HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A civil rights leader called it one of the best days of his life, as Huntsville City Schools broke ground on the campus bearing his name. State, county and city officials joined Dr. Sonnie Hereford III at Tuesday’s ceremony on Barbara Drive. In 1963, Hereford and his then 6-year-old son became the first to integrate an Alabama public school.  It is considered one of the pivotal moments in the civil rights movement. More than 50 years […]

  • A small portion of the donations collected in BancorpSouth's annual pet food drive

    Feeding pets, helping people

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The bags were moved quickly and efficiently into trucks, parked just outside BancorpSouth. But it wasn’t money being transferred out of the bank branch at 401 Franklin Street, Wednesday morning. Instead, it was an estimated 9,000 pounds of pet food, collected during the bank’s annual pet food drive. The donations, given by bank employees and customers, were for King’s Community Kitchen at the Greater Huntsville Humane Society. The program provides free pet food to low-income families who might […]

  • flu nasal vaccine

    Doctors react to recommendation to avoid nasal flu vaccine

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – For around 10 years, those anxious to avoid a shot have turned to a nasal spray as their flu vaccine of choice. However, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee now says the FluMist spray should not be used in the upcoming flu season. Dr. Joseph Bresee is chief of the CDC’s Epidemiology and Prevention Branch. In regard to the spray, he told CBS News, “two of the last three seasons it hasn’t worked at all, at […]

  • The crisis in Flint, Michigan has drawn new attention to the dangers of lead exposure in children

    Recognizing the risk: No safe level of lead for children

    The water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan has called new attention to the dangers of lead poisoning, especially in children. It will likely be years before the full extent of the damage done to the city’s young people is realized. This is the backdrop against which the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a new policy statement, calling for stricter regulations to protect children from this health threat. The statement reads in part: “Even at half the levels previously considered safe, growing […]


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,742 other followers