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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
  • Harvest Square Preserve offers new avenue to explore outdoors (Photo Credit: Jeremy Jackson/WHNT)

    New accessible trail provides greater access to nature in Northwest Madison County

    HARVEST, Ala. (WHNT) – The Land Trust of North Alabama dedicated two trails at Harvest Square Nature Preserve, Friday. Together, the Eagle and Beaver Dam trails create a half-mile accessible loop, the first of its kind for the Land Trust. Executive Director Marie Bostick says, “people who have a little trouble with balance or who can’t negotiate rocks can still get out. They can see the lake and they can see the woods – even moms with strollers, a lot of […]

  • Jordan Matthews, former Madison Academy standout, is now a wide receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles

    Jordan Matthews offering free combine to young athletes, help to homeless families this Saturday

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Jordan Matthews may be playing for the Philadelphia Eagles now but he hasn’t forgotten the folks back home. This year, the former Madison Academy standout established Matthews Mission to “give back to the communities that have shaped him as an athlete, teammate, friend and citizen.” The mission has four areas of focus: Feed the hungry, Educate the children, Empower the family and Donate to those in need. On Saturday, June 25 at 7:30 a.m., Matthews is […]

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    June 20, longest day, marked with purple wave to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – You may have seen a lot of people wearing purple on Monday.  Purple ties, purple dresses, purple sweaters – on this longest day of the year, a purple wave helps promote awareness about Alzheimer’s Disease. At WHNT News 19, several members of our news team wore purple. Elsewhere in the Tennessee Valley, thousands of people got involved in the longest day movement — with activities from sunrise to sunset. At the Huntsville Bridge Center, members — naturally […]

  • A Ugandan classroom (Courtesy: Roger Qualls)

    Surplus school items helping children half a world away

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – We all want the best for our children and for many families, a good education is a top priority. But in much of the world, even the basics are unavailable. That’s the case in Uganda, where the typical classroom is a bare room with peeling plaster. No teaching aids. No desks. No books. Children crowd onto benches while the teacher writes on a chalkboard and the students copy the lesson. It’s a stark contrast to American schools. One Roger Qualls first […]

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    Johnson alumni gather to remember their time in school

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The past week has been bittersweet at J.O. Johnson High. The campus closed last month and students will move to the new Jemison High School this fall. Johnson opened its doors one last time to alumni and staff on June 15, and it wasn’t hard to see that everyone was searching for something. One last dance through the decades. From the library to the gym, more than 40 years of memorabilia was on display, each piece representing […]

  • tech trek

    Tech Trek camp growing, putting more girls on track to success in STEM fields

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – As the third annual Tech Trek camp wound down at UAH Friday, 65 campers from across Alabama met with some of the donors and supporters of the program to show off their projects. During the one-week, residential camp, the students developed apps, built robots, studied cyber security and made their own energy-efficient “tiny houses.” The camp is a partnership between the American Association of University Women and UAH. It’s targeted to rising 8th graders because data shows this […]

  • Forty-nine people were killed at Pulse nightclub in Orlando Sunday (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

    Active shooter response classes being organized in Huntsville

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Sunday’s mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub has heightened security concerns across the country. In Huntsville, one agency is ready to respond to these concerns. The Defense Industrial Base Information Sharing and Analysis Center (DIB ISAC) is one of two-dozen such centers, designed to help protect critical areas of U.S. infrastructure. As part of that aim, DIB ISAC helps its members train for threats, such as workplace violence and active shooter incidents. But while the membership is geared […]

  • Downtown Huntsville

    Getting better mileage out of Huntsville’s roads

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – It’s been two years since the City of Huntsville began a master planning process. The BIG Picture is a detailed road map, intended to guide all aspects of future growth – from land use to recreation, resource management to transportation. This week, planners are turning their attention to city streets with the Complete Street Seminar. The free event, open to the public, is set for Wednesday, June 15 at 6 p.m. Representatives from Smart Growth America will be in […]

  • Thursday's ribbon-cutting officially opened the new "Trains on Main" scavenger hunt in downtown Madison.

    All Aboard for “Trains on Main” in Downtown Madison

    MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – There’s something new to do in downtown Madison. The “Trains on Main” scavenger hunt. Eight model trains, each less than 6 inches long, are now hidden around the area of Main Street. Local artist, Everett Cox, designed and created the bronze trains. Participants can use clue cards, available at the Madison Chamber of Commerce and City Hall, to find the trains. Once the hunt is completed, bring the card to the Chamber office at 130 Park Square Lane for […]

  • Athletes with UAH's Ability Sport Network at basketball practice Tuesday

    UAH’s Ability Sport Network offering opportunities to young athletes with physical disabilities

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – For years, young athletes with physical disabilities were forced to travel outside the area to compete. Sarah Switzer made the long drive to Birmingham’s Lakeshore Foundation just for the chance to play wheelchair basketball. “There was no other team in the state I could go and play with. It was a really big commitment for my parents but I really enjoyed it,” the Madison teen says. Now, the 16-year-old has a court much closer to home, thanks to […]

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    Be a “Water Watcher” this summer

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – There’s a simple step you can take this summer that could save a child’s life. The next time you’re out at the pool, assign a “water watcher.” Karen Ivey, with Safe Kids Huntsville, explains, “drowning is the number two cause of death for children and many times, it’s just that no one is watching the child and everyone thinks someone else is.” This can be especially true whenever a group is gathered, such as during a family get-together. Ivey […]

  • A display at the downtown branch of the Huntsville-Madison County public library in honor of Alzheimer's Awareness Month.

    June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. The Alzheimer’s Association is asking everyone to “Go Purple” for a cure. “When you think of pink, you think of breast cancer.  We want you, when you think of purple, (to) think of Alzheimer’s awareness,” says Brandi Medina of the organization’s Huntsville office. One way the Alzheimer’s Association is spreading the message is through social media. From celebrities to caregivers, those impacted by the disease are posting pictures of themselves wearing purple […]


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