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. 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

ONLY IN FLORIDA, our weekly roundup of the strange, bizarre and just plain ridiculous events that happened right here in the Sunshine State, is back on the web!

ONLY IN FLORIDA does the phenomenon that is known as Sharknado steal the thunder of our coastline’s real sharks.

Shannon LeDuke / WJCT

A new set of rules guiding the Internet in the United States are expected to go into effect after a Federal Communications Commission vote this month. The commission is expected to to start regulating the Internet as a public utility.

Net neutrality is the term advocates use to promote a free and open Internet.

They are against the creation of a two-tiered system online — slow speeds or lanes for small companies, and faster speeds for rich ones who have more money to pay for it.

A citywide day of service is coming up this weekend. Hundreds of women and girls will lead the way at the first-ever Generation WORKS.

This Saturday, women and their daughters will be wielding weapons of mass construction at a slew of improvement projects around town.

Generation WORKS is an outgrowth of Generation W, the women’s leadership conference created by Donna Orender.

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Dr. John Lovejoy is the respected Jacksonville orthopedic surgeon whose heroic efforts in earthquake-stricken Haiti were captured on film in the award-winning documentary Angels of Milot.

The 2010 earthquake there, which registered 7.0 on the Richter scale, is on record as the worst natural disaster in the Western Hemisphere.

Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church

Two local pastors are challenging the old saw about Sunday being the most segregated hour of the week.

The chances for another member of the Bush family to run for office may have increased, as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush declared official interest by attacking President Obama’s stance on relations with Cuba.

Bush announced this week he will explore a run for presidency in 2016, as well as call for a stronger embargo against Cuba.

“I don’t think we should be negotiating with a repressive regime to make changes in our relations with them until there are substantive changes on the island,” Bush told Miami Herold reporter Marc Caputo Wednesday morning.

Wikimedia Commons

It’s the time of year when many of us bemoan the commercialization of Christmas. We mourn the loss of the “reason for the season.”

But actually, the symbols of Christmas and the entire ‘holiday season’ are in many ways a product of commercialization, says Nathan Rousseau, sociology professor at Jacksonville University and author of Society Explained.

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Hundreds of inmate deaths with questionable circumstances have sparked a potential federal investigation into the state's corrections system.

The U.S. Department of Justice has notified state authorities it will look into potential abuses of inmates after 320 people died behind bars in Florida this year - the highest number of inmate deaths on record.

At the same time, there's been a doubling of incidents involving the use of force by corrections officers.

4 'Must-Have' Holiday Food Recipes

Dec 16, 2014
Hungry Dudes / Flickr

With the holidays around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what you will prepare for your family this time of year.

International food consultant, Jeff Spear joined Melissa Ross Tuesday on First Coast Connect to discuss his new cook book as well as his own family holiday recipes.

Holiday food traditions vary from coast to coast, and every family has their “must have” food items every year for holiday foods.

Spear presents a few recipes from his new cook, showing the versatility of holiday meals.

Nichos / Wikipedia

On Tuesday night the Jacksonville City Council, in a 16-3 vote, approved new pension reform legislation, seen as a major step forward in a very long journey in the effort to tackle the city’s massive pension costs.

We spoke with veteran Florida Times-Union reporter David Bauerlein about where the pension package goes from here.

  "The next step will likely involve some back-and-forth with the board of the Police and Fire Pension Fund," says Bauerlein.

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  The owners of Jacksonville's Edgewood Bakery in the city's Murray Hill neighborhood say they are open for business and committed to an out-of-court settlement with Jaguars owner Shad Khan, despite a high-profile lawsuit the billionaire has filed.

Khan, through his investment firm Stache Investments, has filed a lawsuit in civil Circuit Court asking for a declaration that Stache owns a majority interest in the business. The lawsuit is seeking complete control of the bakery on Edgewood Avenue, which has been in business for decades and is regarded as a Jacksonville institution.

Jacksonville City Council President Clay Yarborough, Duval County GOP Secretary Kim Crenier, and same-sex marriage are making headlines this week.

Annie Black / WJCT

A protest is scheduled for downtown Jacksonville Wednesday night during Art Walk–and it involves an art exhibit.

Kyle Ericksen

In his career of just 11 years, performer Mike Birbiglia has released two critically acclaimed albums and three Comedy Central specials.

At 24, Mike was one of the youngest comedians ever to appear on The Late Show With David Letterman.

He also wrote, directed and starred in the film Sleepwalk With Me, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. It’s based on his one-man Broadway show of the same name.

And Birbiglia is a featured contributor to Ira Glass’s much-loved public radio show This American Life.

President Obama, immigration reform, Bill Cosby and Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown are making headlines this week.

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