First Coast Connect

Weekdays 9 a.m.

Hosted by Melissa Ross, First Coast Connect is an hour-long call-in program that features local newsmakers, civic and community leaders, artists and people planning a variety of events across Northeast Florida, along with a weekly roundtable of local journalists.

Coming up on Monday's program:


  • BuzzFeed News Investigation into America's Largest Psychiatric Hospital Chain, Universal Health Services

  • Jamie Rich, Founder, Publisher, Editor in Chief of Flamingo Magazine

  • Destination Craft host Jim West    

  • Cole Pepper on the sports events of the weekend   


Join the conversation:

  • Call: (904) 549-2937 (Note: This line is only active during the program, 9:00-10:00 a.m.)

  • Tweet: @MelissainJax

  • Email:

  • Comment on Facebook at First Coast Connect


Learn more about the First Coast Connect Book Club

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Watch segments from First Coast Connect at our partner

First Coast Connect is sponsored in part by Baptist Health and North Florida TPO.

Education coverage is sponsored in part by the Chartrand Foundation.

Legal and political coverage is sponsored in part by Farah & Farah Law Firm.


Friday on First Coast Connect, our media roundtable included Sebastian Kitchen from the Florida Times-Union, Timothy Gibbons from the Jacksonville Business Journal, A.G. Gancarski from Florida Politics and WJCT reporter Ryan Benk. Host Melissa Ross spoke by phone with former “A Prairie Home Companion” host Garrison Keillor and former Cummer Museum executive director Hope McMath spoke about Saturday’s commemoration of International Human Rights Day.

Thursday on First Coast Connect, WJCT reporter Ryan Benk discussed his investigative report on emails discovered on servers that violate JEA rules. Florida author Larry Baker joined us by phone to talk about his the challenge a white male faces in creating compelling minority characters. The 20th edition of “An Evening in December” is set for Friday on Amelia Island. We spoke with Director Pam Helton and Producer Sharon Lennon.

Wednesday on First Coast Connect we spoke with Oliver Formato , sales director for Humana Marketpoint , on the deadline for seniors to file for any changes in their Medicare coverage. We also spoke with artist Kedgar Volta and Denise Reagan of Brunet-Garcia about Volta’s display being unveiled during Art Walk bringing awareness of hunger on the First Coast. The Girl Scouts of Gateway Council CEO Mary Anne Jacobs told us about Sunday’s cookie selling kickoff with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and iHeartMedia Regional Event Director Candace Price joined us by phone to talk about Saturday’s inaugural Wine on the River event to benefit Hands on Jacksonville.

Tuesday on First Coast Connect we heard about the future of solar energy in Florida with A1A Solar founder Pete Wilking . Suzi Lemon, from the human resources firm Dynamic Corporate Solutions, spoke about the, now in limbo, overtime rule for salaried employees, and in our on-going series “First Coast Connect Rising Stars” we met Odd Rod,also known as Roderick Borisade , a local spoken word artist.

Monday on First Coast Connect we were joined by Jimmy Orth of the St. Johns Riverkeeper and Quint White, head of the Marine Science Research Institute at Jacksonville University, to talk about the documentary “Troubled Waters.” Local attorney Wayne Hogan spoke about what toys should be avoided his holiday season. Activist Matt Killen talked about his trip to video protesters at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.

Friday on First Coast Connect, our weekly Media Roundtable with Paula Horvath of the Florida Times-Union, Fred Matthews formerly of the Examiner and Claire Goforth editor at Folio Weekly joined host Melissa Ross in discussing the news of the week. We were also heard from actor, producer and comedian Arsenio Hall, who is performing this weekend at the Comedy Zone. Local actor and producer Jason Woods told us about his his one-man show of A Christmas Carol. and organizer of the 19th annual Greek Festival and Arts and Crafts Fair, Susan Stone, joined us by phone to talk about this weekend’s fair in St. Augustine.

Wednesday on First Coast Connect, JEA employees Al Johnson and Terence Adams joined the show to discuss the complaint they field with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accusing the utility of discrimination. PACE Center for Girls President and CEO Mary Marx talked about their latest grant to help at-risk girls. Anna Neal, co-chair of 40th Arts and Antiques Show benefiting Wolfson Children’s Hospital, joined us to talk about this weekend’s event. Travel expert Judy Wells told us about her recent trip to China and comedian and performer Jeff Bradley joined us live in studio.

Tuesday on “First Coast Connect” we discussed what changes may be in store for the Affordable Care Act under the Trump administration. We were joined by Pat Geraghty, CEO of Guidewell and Florida Blue, and Dr. Alan Harmon, past president of the Florida Medical Association and Duval County Medical Association and member of the American Medical Association's Council on Medical Service. I’m a Star Foundation Executive Director and Former Duval County School Board Chair Betty Burney joined the show with local students Jasmine and Jaquez Butler to talk about the upcoming Let’s Move Jacksonville event. Bright Holidays CEO Mike Shreve spoke about the mission to buy necessities for the less fortunate during the holiday season. And director Rodney Holmes and star Regina Torres talked about the upcoming Players by the Sea production of “Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge.”

Wednesday on “First Coast Connect” we heard about the state of mental health care in Northeast Florida with Mental Health America of Northeast Florida President and CEO Denise Marzullo. Legacy Trust Director Marty Flack and relationship manager Holly Tyrrell joined the show to talk about the do’s and don’ts of holiday spending and what we can expect with the stock market next year under President-elect Donald Trump. Dr. Paul Clark spoke about Jacksonville’s new Lung Cancer Support Network. And cast members of Stage Aurora’s “Dreamgirls,” Patrick Johnson, Ebony Murray and Darryl Reuben Hall joined guest host Jessica Palombo and performed in studio.

Tuesday on First Coast Connect guest host Jessica Palombo was joined by longtime friends Bishop Rudolph McKissick Jr ., a black Democrat, and Lindsey Brock, a white Republican. They talked about maintaining their 35-year friendship through a contentious presidential election and its aftermath. We also heard from Ellen Wiss and Paula Liang from the Women’s Giving Alliance. Jekyll Island Events Manager Nancy Kring Rowan joined us by phone to talk about a month’s worth of events to celebrate the holidays. And Rethreaded founder Kristin Keen joined us to talk about the Rethreaded Challenge, a campaign to get shoppers to buy gifts made by survivors of the sex trade.

Monday on “First Coast Connect,” guest host Jessica Palombo was joined by Darnell Smith, incoming co-chair of the JAX Chamber, and Project New Hope President and CEO Kevin Gay. They talked about the Chamber’s Project Open Door. Cole Pepper talked about the Florida Gators’ winning the SEC Eastern Division and another frustrating loss by the Jaguars. And WJCT Music Director David Luckin and WJCT’s Karen Feagins stopped by with a preview of our holiday programming, starting with “Swamp Radio” on Thanksgiving morning at 9.

Friday on First Coast Connect, our Media Roundtable panel included Florida Times-Union columnist Mark Woods and WJCT business analyst John Burr. CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida Paul Martinez spoke about Saturday’s inaugural Collard Green Festival at the organization’s Woodland Acres Club Farm, and Museum of Science and History Executive Director Maria Hane told us about Saturday’s MOSH Bash, celebrating the museum’s 75th anniversary.

Thursday on First Coast Connect, we spoke with Jacksonville Transportation Authority CEO Nathaniel Ford about the future of transportation in the city. We also heard from local chef and restaurant owner Kenny Gilbert about his plans to expand the local restaurant scene. Swamp Radio’s Ian Mairs along with chef Stephen Dimare joined the show to talk about their upcoming dinner and radio theater event “Early Thanks” being held Saturday at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.

Wednesday on First Coast Connect, with Jacksonville again reeling from multiple homicides, including the shooting of an 11-month old, we spoke with local pastors John Guns and John Allen Newman as the city, once again looks for solutions to the violence. Rotary District Governor Marshall Butler joined the program to talk about the organization’s project to eradicate polio worldwide. Julie Handley, fundraiser chair of the Downtown Ecumenical Services Council, talked about the return of their fundraising event “Where’s Bubba?” Developer Zach Schwartz spoke about the new app he help create “intoGo,” which provides easy access to places and things to do on the First Coast.

Tuesday on First Coast Connect, we hosted a conversation about the Electoral College with Jacksonville University political science professor Stephen Baker and visiting professor of history at the University of North Florida Yanek Mieczkowski . We were also joined by Sen. Aaron Bean and pastor Lance Jones, who spoke about the new Outreach Center of the Journey Church in Yulee that helps feed those in need. Former pro golfer Jeff Klauk then joined host Melissa Ross to talk about Perfect Golf Events, and author Christopher Phillips spoke about his latest book, “The Philosophy of Childing : Unlocking Curiosity, Creativity and Reason through the Wisdom of Our Youngest.”