WPTA-TV anchor Melissa Long is a local icon and it’s easy to see why. A consummate professional, she’s been on local television news for more than 30 years. She has plans to retire at the end of this year, marking the end of an era in local television.
But she wasn’t always in front of the camera. She says her foray into television was a “natural outgrowth” of her radio career. Before coming to WPTA, she had stints at local stations WGL and WAJI.
“When the opportunity arose to get into T V, I jumped on it,” she said. “I’ve loved it ever since.”
Speaking of love, the Fort Wayne native said her affection for the Summit City is what has kept her in this market for so long. It’s common for journalists to move around often to advance, but Melissa said she has never had a good reason to leave. “I love Fort Wayne,” she said. “I think it’s a wonderful city.”
That love affair with the city fuels her often adrenaline-filled days. She typically gets in around 2:30 p.m. to prepare for the busy night ahead. That means reading emails, getting a rundown of breaking news and writing the scripts for the top story segments. All of this prepares her to anchor the 5, 6, and 11 p.m. newscasts. Yet her work is not done in a vacuum. Long is quick to point out the collaborative nature of her work. “The newscast presents the hard work all the people backing me have put in,” she said.
There’s no doubt the news business requires 110 percent effort, and Long is quick to acknowledge that. She said she’s always admired Victor Locke, who previously served as assistant news director at the station. In her words, Locke always had a sense of urgency and was extremely thorough and capable—the “gold standard” in local television news.
But it’s not always all work and no play. When not in the studio, Long enjoys cooking, reading, practicing yoga, playing the piano and working in her yard—all activities she hopes to do more of when retired. She said it will be nice to “not have to do things,” but instead take some time for herself to decompress and relax. She also plans to make time for non-profit board service. She has a “soft spot” for senior citizens and at-risk youth.
“I have been enormously fortunate,” she said.