Melissa Long has been a lighthouse to our community for more than 30 years, informing us of danger and shining as a beacon of light to illuminate the beauty of our city. She worked a full-time second shift job as News Anchor at 21Alive News. We only saw the tip of the iceberg at
5:00, 6:00 and 11:00 p.m., but the bulk of her work came long before the cameras ever turned on. Her job started early in the afternoon and ended around midnight every weeknight. An undertaking, that in spite of feeling terrible, she pressed on pretending to feel like Mary Poppins on a wonderful day. Melissa said, “Now don’t get me wrong, I loved the job, but after having no control of my own schedule, I was ready for a change.”
So how do you go from celebrity to sofa? Well, it takes time, and Melissa is far from sofa time at this stage of her life. She still serves on a couple community boards where her respect and experience are always welcome. She has time now to help her mother, who still lives in Fort Wayne. Melissa now has the ability to travel with her husband, State Senator David Long, showing her full support of his progress and decisions. She plans to spend more time with her two boys that now live on both coasts, one in South Carolina and the other in California, and of course take long walks with her 100-plus pound Golden Retriever Doodle.
As a classmate of Melissa’s, I have always looked up to her. While students at Elmhurst High School, I remember having the pleasure of dancing with her and realizing the top of my head barely made it to her chin. I asked Melissa if her height was an advantage in her career. She said, “It does give you a presence, and you’re not as easy to be intimidated. When asked who was her favorite person she ever interviewed, without hesitation she answered, “Bishop John D’Arcy (former Bishop of the Fort Wayne/South Bend Diocese) and secondly, Chuck Surack (Founder of Sweetwater Sound).”
Melissa had other opportunities during her career here in Fort Wayne. When she was a young girl she was an elf for “the REAL” Santa Claus (Phil Steigerwald) in downtown Fort Wayne, and there is no telling where that could have taken her. Her training in college was in theater arts, but staying in Fort Wayne was so important to her, that she adapted drama training to fit the newsroom. Early in her broadcast career she was offered a job in Denver, Colorado. Even with a much larger audience and more exposure, Melissa turned it down. Her family, and especially her husband’s political career meant more to her than becoming the next Barbara Walters or Connie Chung. Denver’s loss was certainly Fort Wayne’s gain.
Some people need to travel all over the world to “discover themselves.” Melissa, we’re glad you found your way home by never needing to leave us.