At Home with Melissa Wilson
Melissa Wilson has always had a soft spot in her heart for Houston. Having spent holidays and summer vacations here with her grandparents, the Texas native was thrilled to become anchor and health reporter on the 9 p.m. Fox 26 (KRIV-TV) news program in September of 2000. When she heard she’d gotten the job, her bags were packed within the week. She was moving back to Texas from Tallahassee (where she’d been an anchor for the statewide, cable-based Florida News Channel), and had never been happier.
A lot has happened to Wilson in the four years since then, both professionally and personally. She’s covered such major news stories as Tropical Storm Allison and the Columbia shuttle disaster. She became engaged, then married, in 2003; and this June, she and husband David welcomed their first child, Zachary.
Sometimes Wilson has mixed the personal and professional aspects of her life, starring in a kind of “reality TV” before that became the rage. After getting engaged, she did a series of news reports about how to prepare for a wedding. She subsequently announced her pregnancy on the air, then did a similar series of reports on prenatal care. These days, however, although so-called reality programming is a mainstay of television, you won’t find Wilson signing up for any such shows. “Not on your life. I used to love doing wild, crazy stuff, but now I have to be a little more conservative so that I’ll be around for a long time for Zach.”
She still loves her viewers, though. “I really realized that we have incredible viewers when I became a health reporter,” she says. Wilson is out there at the Medical Center reporting on issues such as drug recalls and breast cancer, and feedback from viewers is vital. “Viewers call and leave a voice mail message. Maybe I’ll never even meet them, but I think about them a lot, and I’m glad to know that my health stories provide hope.”
During the holiday season, maternal thoughts and concerns consume Wilson. “My biggest surprise has been how much you love this human being that you’ve created,” she says. Zach arrived six weeks premature and had to stay in the hospital for several weeks afterward. He’s completely healthy now, says the health reporter, “but the time in the hospital made me a little more paranoid than most.”
This Christmas will be her baby’s first, and Wilson gushes with anticipation. She’s sure that the boxes and wrapping paper will be of more interest to Zach than any toys. The biggest balancing act will be making sure that all of the relatives get to spend time with him. That shouldn’t be a problem if she keeps to some of her family traditions. She and her brother had a tradition of waking up at 2 a.m. Christmas morning to read the Bible, open presents and then drive to their grandmother’s house. Even as adults, she and her brother have continued this tradition. “Poor Zach is going to have to change his schedule if we do that this year,” she says.
The true goal is “teaching him the importance of Christmas.” Wilson is a Baylor University graduate, and this year she emceed that school’s Houston prayer breakfast marking the annual observance of the National Day of Prayer. “My family is Christian, and Christmas is a very spiritual time for us. I just can’t wait to teach him what Christmas is all about. The spirit of giving is so beautiful, and it means a lot to my family,” says Wilson.
The city has certainly had a positive effect on her life in many ways. “I think I became more ‘cultural’ when I moved to Houston because of all the different types of people. I really feel like it enhanced my life,” she says. Among her many activities, she has been involved in the Ambassadors’ Club, a business and professional association that raises funds for charities and other worthy community activities.
Integrating a new baby into her life has altered her priorities, however, and caused her to fine-tune her focus. “Motherhood changes the way you look at things,” says Wilson. It also takes considerable focus – and she now swears by Post-it® notes. “Once you have a baby, you can’t remember anything, not at home and not at work,” she says. Her desk is loaded with little yellow reminders.
Her final comment is a reminder for peace. “I just hope for peace.” Post-it notes and peace – simple holiday reminders that could help us all.