Just moments after passing through security at Fox 8 and being guided into the newsroom, we learn of the day's first crisis.
"There is a kitten loose in the studio," says reporter Dave Nethers. "Dick Goddard found a stray in the parking lot yesterday and locked it in his office overnight with food and water. Apparently, he got out."
Granted, a kitten running wild through the nerve center of the local Fox affiliate isn't an emergency on par with an injury to Josh Cribbs, but it's got to be unusual, right?
"That's an everyday occurrence here," says reporter Melissa Reid. "If there's an animal roaming around the studio, nobody even blinks."
As one of Fox 8's newest talents, Reid is still learning the ropes not only as they apply to work but also life in Cleveland. She and her husband moved to town from Pittsburgh just over four months ago, and they're still feeling their way around. Both seem to be starting with a completely blank slate.
"We had no idea what Cleveland was all about, or in what areas to live," she explains. "People warned us about the whole East-West divide. We decided that if we just plop ourselves down in the middle, eventually we'll gravitate to one place or another."
"The middle," as it turns out, is downtown -- spitting distance to Progressive Field.
Sitting on the familiar red couches of the Fox 8 "Morning Show," Melissa Reid seems wholly at ease beneath the blinding studio lights. Formerly both a reporter and producer for stations in Pittsburgh and Wheeling, Reid says that she is equally comfortable in front of and behind the cameras.
Her career path has been etched in stone, she says, since her freshman year in high school, where she did weekly broadcasts. After graduating with a Communications degree from Bethany College, Reid set out to conquer the local news circuit. Since joining Fox 8, Reid has cultivated her own beat, one that puts her in front of the cameras live at 5 and 6 p.m.
"I kind of have my own niche," she says, grinning subtly. "I cover all the weird, random, off-the-beaten-path stuff. There's always something strange happening in Cleveland. It's amazing!" You might recall Reid from such viral hits as "Banana Attacking Gorilla" and "Melee at the McDonald's."
If not for a New Year's resolution to advance her career -- regardless where it might take her -- Reid would not be a Clevelander. Searching the Internet for job openings, Reid saw one that appealed to her. The entire application, interview and acceptance process happened so fast, she notes, that within a few short weeks, she found herself in a brand-new job, apartment and city.
"I didn't know anybody at the station. I didn't know anybody in Cleveland," she explains. "I had no ties whatsoever to Cleveland."
As opposed to feeling like a fish -- and Steelers fan -- out of water, Reid says her greeting has been nothing short of gracious. "I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, so I knew coming in that I was going to deal with a little heat. But the interesting part is that I haven't had anybody give me a hard time. In fact, the reception I have gotten has been awesome."
Like most outsiders, Reid says that she did not harbor negative opinions of Cleveland -- she harbored no
opinions of Cleveland. Since landing in downtown, Reid says that she and her husband, a teacher with the Maple Heights school district, have been blown away by what they have discovered.
"The restaurant scene here is beyond any place I've been -- and I've been to a lot of cities," she says. "Every day we try and experience a new area, new restaurant. There are so many new places to learn about." Some of their favorites include Ty Fun in Tremont, Banana Blossom in Ohio City, and Lucky's for brunch. When they aren't eating, Reid says they walk to Tribe games, sip beer at Market Garden Brewery, and people watch from the patio at Lola. And yes, she plans on attending Browns games, but as a Steelers fan.
While not a Browns fan -- yet -- Reid has become a true booster of Cleveland.
"My friends make fun of me because I have become this huge Cleveland fan," she adds. "I think that's based on the fact that I came in fresh, with no opinion at all. It really has exceeded my expectations."