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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
  • School traffic around Sparkman High

    School Daze: the danger of distracted driving in school zones

    MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Twice a day, Jeff Road just might be the busiest road in Madison County. With four schools in a three-mile stretch, mornings and afternoons can be chaotic, to say the least. Madison County sheriff’s deputies are there to watch the traffic and the crosswalks. But, they also see something else – far too many people, driving distracted. We recently met up with Deputy Brian Smith who told us, “on the way over here, I watched three parents…with their phones […]

  • A "Turkey Dog," upon arriving in the U.S. (Courtesy: AGB)

    “Turkey Dogs” finding new future in Alabama

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With their gentle disposition and playful attitude, golden retrievers are consistently ranked one of the most popular dog breeds in the U.S. They have also been extremely popular in Turkey, where Lorraine Donald says, “people looked at golden retrievers as a status symbol.” But as the breed falls out of favor, thousands of these dogs have been abandoned on the streets of Istanbul. Unfortunately, the same characteristics that make the dogs such good family pets make them […]

  • A student crosses the street between Sparkman 9th Grade School & Sparkman High School (Photo: WHNT)

    Let’s Talk: A Distracted Driving conversation

    MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – School has been back in session for a couple of weeks now. School zones are once again jammed on weekday mornings and afternoons. Parents in a rush to drop off or pick up. High school students running late to class or in a hurry to get out. As part of our Distracted Driving Project, WHNT News 19, Joe King of Morris, King, & Hodge, and Sgt. Brent Patterson of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office were at Sparkman […]

  • salvation army

    Salvation Army of Huntsville/Madison County sending crew to Baton Rouge

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Salvation Army of Huntsville/Madison County deployed a disaster canteen and crew to Baton Rouge, Thursday morning. The crew expects to serve around 350 hot meals a day to Louisiana flood victims. According to the Salvation Army, flood waters are still too high to get the trucks into the communities. So, they’re focusing on the shelters that have opened across Baton Rouge. At this time, no material donations have been requested by the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi […]

  • school bus

    PTA Primer: What to know about parent-teacher associations

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A couple of weeks into August, the new school is no longer so new. Students are settling into a routine. The PTA forms are going out. If you’re one of the more than 36,000 Alabamians who belong to a parent-teacher association, you know the drill. But maybe you’ve never had the time or the opportunity to work with a PTA. Layna Payne wants you to know that child advocacy is at the heart of everything they do. […]

  • Huntsville City Schools logo on new background

    Huntsville City Schools ETV broadcasts forum with Board of Education candidates

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Municipal elections are August 23, and Huntsville voters will see two races on the ballot for Board of Education. Tonight, you have a chance to meet the candidates running for District 1 and 5 on the city school board. The Huntsville Council of PTAs will host a forum at the Academy for Academics and Arts, located at 4800 Sparkman Drive. It will be in the school theater. If you can’t make it in person, click here to watch the forum […]

  • Pinhook Provisions Street Food Park on Bob Wallace is participating in Huntsville Restaurant Week

    Restaurant Week on Wheels

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville Restaurant Week is August 12-21, with around 50 eateries offering specialized menu items at fixed prices for lunch and/or dinner. This year, you’ll find food trucks on the list of participating restaurants. Amie Vaughn, development director for Pinhook Provisions Street Food Park, says “It just seemed like a natural fit this year. The food trucks have a place to be…people know where to find them now and we thought it was a great opportunity.” The park, at […]

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    Students, staff & families celebrate official opening of Huntsville’s new Academy for Gifted and Talented

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville City Schools celebrated the opening of a sixth magnet program this week.  It’s the Academy for the Gifted and Talented at Williams P-8. The inaugural class at the Academy for Gifted and Talented has 51 sixth graders.  They have differing strengths and interests, but they are united in their passion for learning. “It got to the point, especially in math where we didn’t think there was going to be an option to put her in school so when this […]

  • Alabama State Department of Education

    Three finalists from north Alabama interview for State Superintendent of Education

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Three educators from north Alabama are among the finalists interviewing for the position of State Superintendent of Education. The interviews began at 9 a.m. Thursday with Dr. Dee Fowler, superintendent of Madison City Schools. Dr. Craig Pouncey, Jefferson County Superintendent, was the next candidate to interview. He was followed by Ms. Jeana Ross. Ross is currently secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education. However, she is a Guntersville native who has previously worked in the Jackson County, […]

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    Back to School Advice 101

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – They’ve not only been there, done that. They’ve been there and done it very well. So, when we recently met a couple of students who are not only rocking their college careers but who also scored highly-coveted internships with Hudson-Alpha Institute for Biotechnology, we asked them – “what advice would you give your younger selves?” We were looking for insights to share with middle and high school students, getting ready for a new year. And, we certainly found them.   […]

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    Huntsville Police deliver school supplies for teens

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Since 2013, the Huntsville Police Department has held an annual school supply drive for students in need. This year, officers collected for teenagers specifically, collecting supplies like ear buds, flash drives, pens and binders. Officer Johnny Hollingsworth, the community resource officer for the West Precinct, calls the drive an investment in the students’ future. With the help of the community, he says, “it’s just going to help them become everything they can become and that’s priceless.” The donations were delivered […]

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    Five years into the job: a sit-down with Superintendent Casey Wardynski

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – After 30 years in the Army, more than half of it spent at West Point, retired Colonel Casey Wardynski was looking for a new challenge. He found it, courtesy of the US Postal Service. As Wardynski tells the story, he got a letter from a non-profit. “This note, this letter, said, ‘how would you like to help address the biggest challenge facing America?’ That’s the kind of challenge I like,” he says. Wardynski was recruited by Broad Superintendent Academy, which […]


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