Melanie Gillespie may be about to end her long tenure at WPXI-TV, but chances are good that local news consumers will still come across her name fairly often.

The 34-year-old Bridgeville native had been serving as Channel 11’s Westmoreland County bureau chief since July 2015 before recently accepting a position as public information officer for the office of Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli. Gillespie’s last day on air at WPXI will be Nov. 11, and her first day in Ziccarelli’s office will be Nov. 14.

“It’s bittersweet,” Gillespie told the Union Progress. “I’m sad to leave because I do enjoy my job, and I love the people. There are so many aspects of the job that I love. … I’m excited to transition into something that’s more consistent and with better hours than what we have in news.

“This is all that I’ve known. It’s scary to walk away from everything you’ve been doing for 13 years and transition into unfamiliar territory. It’s still exciting.”

Ziccarelli said in a news release that Gillespie’s responsibilities in her new job will include launching Westmoreland County’s new Crimewatch platform and helping to “increase community awareness and transparency with our office.

“With her strong, well-established network of contacts in the news media and the community, I have every confidence that Melanie will prove to be an excellent resource for the Office of District Attorney and Westmoreland County,” Ziccarelli said in that release.

After graduating from South Fayette High School, Gillespie went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Kent State University. She had minored in sports administration and entered the TV journalism world with dreams of becoming an NFL sideline reporter.

She spent a year working at WVVA-TV in Bluefield, W. Va., before starting a four-year stint as an anchor and reporter for WJAC-TV in Johnstown. She got a little emotional when reminiscing about how her goal was always to work for one of Pittsburgh’s big three stations.

“I always said, being in Pittsburgh and reporting on my hometown was the end stop for me,” she said. “I got to do it, and my mom and dad watched every night. It’s hard to leave that behind.”

Melanie Gillespie will soon leave her longtime role as WPXI-TV’s Westmoreland County bureau chief to become the new spokesperson for Westmoreland County District Attorney Nicole Ziccarelli. (Courtesy of Melanie Gillespie)

During her seven-plus years at WPXI, Gillespie covered everything from a 2016 blizzard that shut down the Pennsylvania Turnpike to a Donald Trump rally in Latrobe. She was on the tarmac when the Penguins’ plane arrived back in Pittsburgh after the team won the 2017 Stanley Cup. She recalled spying then-Penguins center Nick Bonino on crutches, getting his attention by yelling “Bonino!” and doing a live shot with him right there.

The thing she thinks she’ll miss most about working in broadcast journalism is “actually being in the communities and talking to people.” Whether she was interviewing them on the best or worst days of their lives, she appreciates everyone who allowed her to tell their stories.

“People were so friendly and caring toward me,” she said. “That’s something I’ll never be able to replace.”

At least she won’t be going far. Although she wasn’t all that familiar with Westmoreland County when she began reporting on it for WPXI, that area “feels like home to me” now. She’s only doing this career 180 due to the demands of motherhood and a desire for more stable work hours.

Becoming a part of Ziccarelli’s team was a way for her “to continue serving Westmoreland County — just in another role.”

“It’s still what I’m familiar with,” she said. “I’m going to be on the other side of the media sense of things. It’s going to be reporters asking me for information. I think I know what media correspondents expect out of me and that office.”

Gillespie’s exit from television news is coming shortly after WPXI photographer Mike Drewecki retired earlier this week after 27 years with Channel 11. She had worked closely with Drewecki for nearly eight years and wrote a touching tribute to him that she posted on social media to commemorate his retirement.

Though she didn’t see her WPXI colleagues very often, Gillespie said she found everyone there to be “so genuine” and will miss the opportunities she did have to experience that “newsroom camaraderie.”

Channel 11 viewers may still bump into her around Western Pennsylvania. Considering the “community outreach aspect” of her new job, they might not have to wait particularly long to hear from her again.

“People literally welcome you into their home every night of the week,” she said. “I never wanted to sacrifice my credibility. I hope everyone trusted me and got to know me as a person, not just the name on the news.”

Joshua covers pop culture, media and more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Contact him at

Joshua Axelrod

Joshua covers pop culture, media and more at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Contact him at