Last Friday, Eagle Eye, the Auburn University student-run television station, renamed its on-campus TV studio the Melas-Mazza Eagle Eye Studio in honor of Auburn alumna Chloe Melas.
Melas graduated from Auburn in 2008 and is currently the New York entertainment reporter for CNN. While with CNN, she has covered events ranging from the #MeToo movement to the death of NBA Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.
“Well, never in my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined that the TV studio would have my name outside the door,” Melas said. “It is such an honor, something that I never thought was even an option, really.”
While at Auburn, Melas was involved in student media, joining Eagle Eye, one of the several campus organizations that Auburn offers to its students. Then a sophomore, Melas auditioned to be an on-air broadcaster and received the position, where she was in the role until she graduated.
“I think I failed the Plainsman spelling test,” Melas said as she laughed. “So I wanted to write for the newspaper — that didn’t happen, and so I jumped into Eagle Eye because it was the easy alternative, and it ended up being really difficult carrying that heavy camera and all that equipment around.
“I really got boots-on-the-ground training, and I fell in love with broadcast journalism. I ended up trying out for anchor and I got it my sophomore year, and I did it every single year until graduation.”
Before graduating from Auburn with a degree in broadcast journalism, Melas was enamored with the media field in high school. Moving from Atlanta to Dallas right before middle school, she entered her freshman year of high school without much of a social group.
“I went to two different middle schools, so by the time I came to high school, as you can imagine, it's difficult to make friends your freshman year, and break through when everybody's known each other since they were really little,” Melas said.
That changed freshman year when Melas signed up for her high school’s newspaper, The Eagle Edition, where she was able to find her niche as a high school journalist.
“Even though I have the gift of gab and I can make friends easily, I always felt a little bit like an outsider, a little bit of a loner,” Melas said. “And so I really found a home and a family at my school's newspaper.
“I was bit with the journalism bug. I've always loved telling stories.”
Telling stories is something that Melas aspired to do, as she recalled seeing the events of 9/11 transpiring on a television at her high school and wanting to be the first to share the news with her classmates.
“I didn't exactly know the significance of what was happening on 9/11, but I knew it was big and I ran back to my classroom and I told everybody about the Twin Towers,” Melas said. “So I think that I've always loved being able to share news and share first.”
Melas also recalled the time she skipped class during high school to spend a day at a local news station with a friend to see it with her own eyes. That day, Melas ended up interviewing Jay McGraw, the son of Phil McGraw, more commonly known as Dr. Phil.
“Like, of course I would skip school to go to a TV station,” Melas said through her laughs. “I didn’t do anything bad; I went to a TV station.”
As part of Auburn’s journalism curriculum, students are required to participate in an internship for a semester to gain experience in the field. After hearing that one of her fellow classmates had been offered an internship with ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, Melas’ competitive spirit led her to apply to any internships available to one-up the competition.
“I wanted to top that, so I managed to get an internship at “The Colbert Report” with Stephen Colbert,” Melas said. “So I packed up my bags and I went to New York City, and I never looked back.”
Melas noted how her internship sparked her interest in going into the media field, as well as her interest in New York City, where she currently lives.
“I was an OK writer and great at asking questions,” Melas said. “Great at finding the story, great at getting people to talk to me — not good at editing and other things like that. But all of that I was able to learn in time.”
After graduation, Melas worked at CNN as a news assistant before taking a job at Hollywood Life as a senior reporter. She had her own show on VH1 called “The Gossip Table” that she hosted for nearly two and a half years. Melas left Hollywood Life in 2016 to make her second appearance at CNN, where she is now the New York entertainment reporter.
“When I was at my job in Hollywood Life, it was a really tough environment,” Melas said. “It was a startup, and I had a really tough editor, and I cried a lot. There were some really dark moments but I got a lot of really invaluable experience and hands-on opportunities.”
Now in her second stint at CNN, Melas’ position has a blend of writing and on-air on television where she covers entertainment news.
Recently, she had a CNN Special Report air about Britney Spears’ conservatorship. She also continues to write about everything in the entertainment industry, from who deleted their Instagram accounts at odd hours of the night to the Harvey Weinstein criminal trial or how the coronavirus has impacted the entertainment industry.
“My job is wild; the hours are nuts,” Melas said. “So, I wish I could tell you that I have had a nine-to-five, that would give me much more stability and sanity in my life.”
Melas currently lives in Westchester, New York with her husband and two children, ages 2 and 4. She is going on the fifth year of her second tenure at CNN, after coming back to the media company in 2016.
The Eagle Eye television studio can be found in suite 1105 of the Student Center on Auburn’s campus.