Melissa Ross

Host/Producer, "First Coast Connect"

"First Coast Connect" host/producer Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting. 

As executive producer of "The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State," Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the documentary category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. "The 904" examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital.

WJCT’s "First Coast Connect" has received multiple national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI) for best call-in program.

Prior to joining WJCT, Melissa spent three years in the corporate communications field at Jacksonville’s Dalton Agency. During her stint at Dalton, she was cast in the HBO film "Recount" playing - what else? - a reporter!

Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and Communications. She also writes for the Florida Politics blog. 

Ways to Connect

water flowing  out of tap
next. via flickr

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a water policy bill Thursday despite calls from environmentalists to veto the measure.

The St. Johns Riverkeeper was part of a statewide coalition calling for the veto.


One of the premier facilities in America treating veterans and NFL players for traumatic brain injury and PTSD has chosen Jacksonville as its location for expansion into the Southeast.

Florida's Children First, a nonprofit organization that works to raise awareness about issues related to the rights of at-risk children, especially those in foster care. FCF is holding a special event tonight to honor champions for children's rights. Executive Director Christine Spudeas joins us in studio with more. 

Norman Silent Film Studios is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but now it has a chance to become a National Landmark. The nomination will be presented next week in Washington. Norman Studios Spokeswoman Rita Reagan is here to explain how this all came about, and how the public can help. 

Mark Foley / Florida House of Representatives

Lawmakers in the Florida House headed to court Monday.

As First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross reports, it’s the next step after an impasse with the Senate over how to redraw Florida's 27 congressional districts.

House lawyers have asked the Florida Supreme Court to allow a Leon County judge to consider redistricting plans from the House, Senate and potentially other parties.

This after a lawsuit that led to a ruling last month striking down eight of the state's congressional districts.

Excel23 / Wikimedia Commons

Jacksonville’s Downtown Investment Authority is holding another open forum Wednesday night on the redesign of the Landing.

The forum, or charrette as it’s called, will be the second time the Downtown Investment Authority will ask the public to weigh in on what should be done to redevelop the Landing.

The site may be altered or even torn down and rebuilt from scratch.

Frank Murry via St. Augustine Government

A St. Augustine nonprofit is educating the public on the city’s role in the civil rights movement during the 1960s.

The Anniversary to Commemorate the Civil Rights Demonstrations, or ACCORD, has worked for years to preserve St. Augustine’s history surrounding civil rights.

News4Jax

Downtown Jacksonville’s Andrew Jackson statue was vandalized twice last week.

As First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross reports, the statue is the latest of several monuments across the South to be tagged with the words “Black Lives Matter.”

Someone tagged the base of the statue Sunday with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice 4 D” before it was scrubbed off.

Earlier in the week someone also put a fake Native American head on the statue.

Jeb Bush officially launched his presidential campaign in Florida this week becoming the eleventh major candidate seeking the Republican nomination.

During an appearance on WJCT's “First Coast Connect,” Matt Corrigan, professor of politics at the University of North Florida, gave his thoughts on Bush’s candidacy.

Corrigan wrote about Bush in his book, “Conservative Hurricane: How Jeb Bush Remade Florida.”

Corrigan says Bush’s campaign is going to be a fascinating test in two ways.

Excel23 / Wikimedia Commons

Jacksonville residents will have the opportunity to make their recommendations to the city Tuesday night concerning the redevelopment of a downtown icon.

The city’s Downtown Investment Authority is asking for ideas on the redesign of the Jacksonville Landing during a public forum.

The Downtown Investment Authority hired a team of urban design experts to share plans for the Landing’s redesign.

City of Jacksonville

Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford has been a vocal critic of Mayor Alvin Brown and a supporter of his hand-picked successor Mike Williams in the Jacksonville mayor and sheriff's races.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

Public safety has emerged as a major issue in Jacksonville’s super close mayor’s race, with incumbent Mayor Alvin Brown defending his approach to this core function of government, while challenger Lenny Curry has hammered Brown’s administration on the issue of violent crime. A recent school bus shooting incident reinforced the narrative.

In particular, the Curry campaign has pounded the messaging that Brown “cut 147 police officers” from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

State Department

As the U.S. and Cuba edge closer to an agreement to restore full diplomatic ties, a retired State Department official who served as the senior diplomat in Cuba says Florida is well-positioned to take advantage of the historic changes.

Murphy Stidham / WJCT News

With one week to go till Election Day, endorsements are flying in the Jacksonville mayoral race between Alvin Brown and Lenny Curry.

Former Mayor John Delaney is throwing his support behind Curry.

Delaney, now president of UNF, says he’s stepping off the sidelines in the mayor’s race to endorse Curry over incumbent mayor Alvin Brown believing City Hall needs a fresh take.

In particular he cites the city’s finances as the reason for his endorsement of his fellow Republican.

Mark Foley / Florida House of Representatives

Lawmakers walked out of Tallahassee three days early — but now they’re coming back.

The state House and Senate will go into a special session on June 1 to try to pass a budget and come to terms on health care funding.

After abruptly adjourning three days early, the Florida House and Senate have tentatively agreed to a special session from June 1 to June 20 to hash out lingering budget issues.

The House and Senate were at odds over whether to expand Medicaid in the state to cover low-income patients.

STEM2 Forum

There’s a new initiative in Jacksonville focused on science, technology, engineering, math and medical programs.

The new STEM2 Hub, and an upcoming STEM2 Forum, are designed to help more students succeed.

Over the past decade, jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have grown at a rate three times faster than non-STEM jobs.

Momentum will continue over the next decade as STEM jobs will grow at a staggering rate of 17 percent.

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