By Catherine Welch || Contributing Writer

For many, two in the morning evokes thoughts of sleepy eyes and the coziness of a warm bed. For Melissa Sheketoff, however, 2 a.m. is the start of the day.

Host and executive producer of Melissa in the Morning at Connoisseur Media, which broadcasts to two of the most popular radio stations in Connecticut—WICC 600AM and 107.9FM—Melissa has long worked for major news organizations across the Northeast. Before becoming WICC’s youngest and first woman morning show host, Melissa attended Lauralton Hall in Connecticut, my alma mater high school. I had the privilege of sitting down with Melissa to learn about her fascinating career in journalism. Melissa revealed personal details and various experiences from her current and past occupations while also sharing the unwavering values she lived by throughout her career. 

What does a typical day at Connoisseur Media look like? 

Before walking into the building, my alarm goes off at 2:35 a.m. when I get up and get ready and head to the station. From 3 to 5 a.m., I write news from scratch and collect audio for breaks. The show is from 5 to 10 a.m. when I present the news, do deeper dives on local stories, and conduct live interviews. When compiling news stories, I am reading local newspapers, watching local news channels, checking social media for headlines, and rewriting stories that are fitting for our audience.

What sparked your interest in journalism? 

I love learning people’s stories and can’t think of another industry where you learn something new daily. I realized as I got older that’s what a journalist is…taking an interest in other people, places, situations, and environments. 

Did you study journalism in college? If so, how do you believe that assisted you in your career? If not, how did you enter into the profession? 

Technically no…I went to school for mass communications. However, I had professors who worked in the broadcasting industry (currently and formerly) so they helped me to sharpen some of my skills and introduced me to internships as early as freshman year. 

Your biography on WICC states that “as a one-man band reporter, Melissa filmed, produced, and presented daily stories stretching from Massena to Saranac Lake, N.Y.” Tell me a little about that experience. Do you prefer working relatively alone? What do you think this experience taught you?

The one-man-band experience was probably the biggest job of my life. I was 21, carrying a 40-pound camera around to courthouses and lakes and sporting events and press conferences, hoping I’d get the right footage and tell the right story. I definitely missed having help or collaborating with a team. So to answer that second question, no, I actually MUCH prefer working with at least one other person. In school, I used to hate group projects because we all aren’t on the same page with the same goal. But in work, we have the same goal to make the best product. I wish I had partners or a team to collaborate on content and bounce ideas off each other and create the best broadcast possible. I think I do a good job with the show, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wonder if it could be so much better with help. 

To give “a diplomatic answer” means to respond in a carefully worded way to avoid bestowing a solid and possibly incriminating answer. You have interviewed many politicians and others in “public positions” (medical professionals, law enforcement officials, etc.). As a journalist, how do you approach interviewees when they give you a “diplomatic answer”? 

I very nicely but firmly ask them to clarify. If they continue to be diplomatic, I will attempt a third time and be more direct. For example, Senator Hwang was on my show the other day. We were talking about a firefighter protection bill being debated right now in Hartford. He claims he is a supporter of it. So I said, “Will you then push it along to be voted on before the legislative session ends in June?” He gave me a diplomatic answer. I repeated, so let me rephrase my question, what will you do to make sure this goes through for a vote? When he didn’t answer a second time, I asked the third time, in more of an assumptive manner, saying, “So you will push it through for a vote, correct?” and he finally said yes. If he still didn’t answer, though, I usually will message the politician or person of interest after the show and tell them honestly what was lacking in their interview and if they want to come back on in the future what needs to be improved.

PBS recently did a study with 12,000 American journalists. 60% of the surveyed journalists that covered politics, science, and technology were male. During your years of work, have you ever encountered or witnessed this inequality in the profession? Have you worked to, as our high school Lauralton Hall promotes, “break the glass ceiling?” 

Yes, definitely more in radio than tv. I think television is doing a better job of attracting women to the industry. However, radio is a more archaic form of media and was always male-dominant and, in many ways, still is today. But I think with anything, progress is more important than in the past. So, I try to focus on where we are today and hope it only gets better in time. But do I still have the occasional bad caller experiences where a listener points out that they’d prefer a man and that I am an irresponsible mother for leaving my child to go to work? Yes. But that’s OK because you can lead a horse to water but can’t make them drink. I think it’s so important that I never let my job identify who I am, and I certainly won’t let people do that, either. Whatever God intended me to do, that’s who I am. 

What is your #1 piece of advice for aspiring journalists? 

Don’t listen to anyone because only you are in control of your journey, and only you will go through your journey. That’s not anyone’s place to tell you what will happen to you or what circumstances you will experience. No one will ever know you fully except you. So take advice like a grain of salt and either put it on your fries or throw it in the garbage. And also, never be afraid to pursue whatever you want, even if people disagree with it. Trust me, you are intelligent and passionate, and no one has the right to tell you otherwise. 

Rising Sophomore Catherine Welch is a Contributing Writer. Her email is