The question I am asked most frequently is, "How do you do it?!" Usually this happens after I tell someone that I get up for work every day at 2 a.m. (These days I co-anchor FOX 5 News Morning from 4:25-6am, and Good Day DC at 9am) The answer is simple: I do it because it makes sense for my family. I've done just about every assignment there is here at FOX 5 -- nightside reporter, investigative reporter, money and consumer reporter, anchor-- and when the opportunity came around to do the early morning shift, I took it. Now I am able to continue a career that I love, and be home in the afternoons to do my second job as a mom and household executive.
I started my first newspaper when I was 8. Ok, it was just a handwritten rag on notebook paper, complete with my own illustrations of neighborhood happenings-- but I clearly had the bug. I've always been the kid with a million questions. My parents get huge credit for teaching me not to be afraid to ask. I was encouraged to pick up the phone and call someone if I wanted information. As an Air Force family, we also moved around a lot. Seeing so many different cultures helped expand my vision of the world. I still remember the Buddhist kids I knew in Thailand who wouldn't allow their photographs to be taken. They believed it would steal their soul. I keep that memory with me every day when I interview people on camera. I firmly believe that we, as journalists, are being entrusted with their persona and it's our duty to present them accurately and fairly.
I studied at University of Florida and James Madison University. My first job in TV was the news director's secretary at WUSA-9 here in DC. It may have been a minor role, but it was invaluable. I got so much inside knowledge of how a TV station works, and was able to learn from journalists who were at the top of their game.
Did I mention I've done weather also? That was my first on-air job in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Still know my way around a NWS forecast map! :)
At NBC-17 in Raleigh, North Carolina, I learned how to shoot a gun, found out what a hog waste lagoon is, and got to witness one of the last live tobacco auctions in the state. I also engineered a fantastic trip with the U.S. Air Force to Bosnia, Albania, Germany and Italy during the Kosovo conflict-- and had the privilege of flying in the cockpit of a C-17 across the Atlantic.
Coming back to DC to work for FOX 5 was an honor.
I'd have to say my proudest moment was winning a National Emmy for my series of investigative reports on Spring Valley. After the dinner, Jane Pauley came up to me and said, "Great dress... and an even better speech!" I don't ask for a lot of affirmation in this business, but that little exchange made me feel as if I'd finally taken a seat at the Journalists' Table.
I volunteer at local hospitals with Musicians on Call, and I also teach art history to elementary school students.
It's such a treat when I meet viewers who are also early risers: baristas, delivery guys, police officers, mad joggers ... there is a whole different city out there in the wee hours of the morning. I tell my kids I'm lucky to be able to take in the sunrise every day.
So if you're an early riser, please join us every day starting at 4:25 a.m… we're up, too! I'd love to hear from you as well, either on my Facebook page or on Twitter @fox5melanie.