Christopher Blank

News Director

It started with ghost stories, of a sort. The wood floors creaking at night, dad assured me, confirmed the presence of spirits in our home. Years of night terrors followed. Then years of transference. Thank you for attending my slumber party. Let me tell you about the noises, friends... 

Eventually, the joy a child finds in manipulating other children's emotions matures into a high school theater career. In that regard, my teen years were of the traditional, unpopular variety.

One day, a few years after college, an editor at the St. Petersburg Times pulled me aside from my part-time job sorting mail and delivering faxes. "Why is your hair orange?" she asked. "And did I see you unicycling in front of that theater across the street?" Few things a person does in the services of "Art" translate into being taken seriously as a human being. To my surprise -- to my eternal, immeasurable surprise --  this was the start of a career as an arts reporter and critic, first at the Times, then at the Memphis Commercial Appeal and for many magazines, journals and newspapers in between. 

In some ways, radio journalism is a back-to-basics medium; people tell stories, share insights, opinions, beliefs and experiences of the verbal kind. And for all the Tweets and Facebook posts and clickbait headlines that parade so stridently upon our psyches day-to-day, the surest way to convince someone that their house is haunted is simply to turn off the lights and let their ears confirm it.

 

Ways to Connect

WKNO-TV

It's the question that usually follows "Does Shelby County need universal pre-k?" 

How to pay for it.

The solution could require a combination of public and private dollars. This week on WKNO-TV's Behind the Headlines, the efforts to expand pre-k are discussed by some of the major proponents. Joining host Eric Barnes is Kathy Buckman Gibson with Seeding Success; Mike Carpenter, executive director for TQEE; and city councilman Kemp Conrad. They are joined by Bill Dries, senior reporter at the Memphis Daily News. 

WKNO-TV

This week on WKNO-FM's Behind the Headlines, Memphis journalists take a look at the results of the recent primaries and what they have in store for the August election. Also on the roundtable discussion: Graceland's plan for expansion and its ongoing legal disputes with the city and the Grizzlies. Finally, an update on the city council. Host Eric Barnes is joined by Ryan Poe of the Commercial Appeal, Toby Sells of the Memphis Flyer, Karanja Ajanaku of the New Tri-State Defender and Bill Dries of the Memphis Daily News

WKNO-TV

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland visits WKNO-TV's Behind the Headlines this week to look ahead at some of the issues facing the city in the future. Deannexation could have an impact on the city's tax base and income, but could also help cut the city's expenses. Also, the mayor talks about the tax incentives called PILOTs (Payment In Lieu of Taxes), seen as a way to attract new business to Memphis. Host Eric Barnes is joined by Bill Dries of the Memphis Daily News.

WKNO-TV

This week on WKNO-TV's Behind the Headlines, Paul Young, the director of Memphis Housing and Community Development, discusses new developments in the city, including South City and the Memphis Heritage Trail. Host Eric Barnes is joined by Bill Dries, senior reporter for the Memphis Daily News. 

WKNO-TV

This week on WKNO-TV's Behind the Headlines, Carol Coletta, the new president and CEO of Memphis Riverfront Development Corp., discusses the new comprehensive plan for the city's riverfront. The "Memphis Riverfront Concept" was revealed last year and includes a new Brooks Museum, along with a possible aquarium on Mud Island. Host Eric Barnes is joined by Bill Dries, senior reporter for the Memphis Daily News. 

Orpheum Theatre

Handel’s Messiah, the soaring Baroque oratorio, typically resurfaces in churches and concert halls around Christmas or Easter, tracing the birth, death and resurrection of Christ in an immaculate, two-hour ascent to the "Hallelujah Chorus."

Its popularity with audiences – starting with its Dublin premiere nearly 280 years ago – means that the singers and musicians who continue to study and play it also have a certain relationship with the work.


WKNO-TV

This week's Behind the Headlines from WKNO-TV focuses on new ideas surrounding Memphis' complicated relationship with public transportation. Joining host Eric Barnes is Suzanne Carlson, transportation and mobility project manager for Innovate Memphis; Glenn Gadbois, program manager for MMDC; and Scudder Wagg, senior associate for Jarrett Walker and Associates. Also at the table is Bill Dries, senior reporter for the Memphis Daily News

WKNO-TV

This week on WKNO-TV's Behind the Headlines, Chris Davis with the Memphis Flyer and Laura Faith Kebede with Chalkbeat TN discuss MLK50, a possible new arena in Graceland and much more. They are joined by Bill Dries, senior reporter with the Memphis Daily News and host Eric Barnes. 

MLK50 Recap: A Platform for Activism

Apr 5, 2018
Photo by Angela Kim

Leading up to Wednesday's commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death 50 years ago, multiple groups hoped that the media spotlight on Memphis would draw attention to contemporary civil rights issues, from economic empowerment to social equality. With a backdrop and a microphone provided by the National Civil Rights Museum, activists appealed to various causes. Labor unions took to the streets of Memphis in a show of strength. In this second installment of our MLK50 recap, WKNO reporters Meredith Husar and Erin Conway discuss some of the political aspirations presented to the anticipated crowds of more than 100,000. 

MLK50 Recap: A Strategy of Commemoration

Apr 5, 2018

The week-long events surrounding the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s death drew everyone from politicians, activists, labor leaders and tourists to Memphis. There were as many reasons to participate as there were causes to rally behind. In this segment reflecting on MLK50 events, WKNO reporters Sydney Matzko and Sierra Guardiola discuss the commemorative aspects of the observance, and how history has been used as an example for future activism. 

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