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

Charles Billings, a beloved voice on this station in the 1980s and early '90s, died Tuesday in Memphis of sudden heart failure. Known for his silky, southern-accented baritone, Billings had both a vast knowledge of classical repertoire and a passion for performing it. After leaving WKNO, his operatic voice could be heard in churches throughout the city. He was 62.


WKNO-TV

This week on WKNO's Behind the Headlines, a look at the Shelby County Juvenile Court and the reforms taking place. Host Eric Barnes talks with Josh Spickler, executive director of Just City, Keith Norman, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bill Powell, former Juvenile Court Settlement Agreement Coordinator and Bill Dries, senior reporter of the Memphis Daily News. 

This week on WKNO’s Behind the Headlines, juvenile court judge Dan Michael discusses the Federal oversight of the local juvenile court system and criticisms of racial bias. Host Eric Barnes and reporter Bill Dries of the Memphis Daily News pose questions.

New Memphis

No, we're not talking about a scandal. It's just the first day of September, known in these parts as "901 Day." And that means celebrating all things Memphis. 


This week on WKNO's Behind the Headlines, host Eric Barnes explores some hot topics in the Memphis media: confederate monuments, a new theater at Graceland and more. The roundtable includes Micaela Watts with High Ground News, Bernal Smith with the New Tri-State Defender and Bill Dries with the Memphis Daily News

WKNO-TV

What is the future of the Mid-South Fairgrounds? On WKNO's Behind the Headlines, host Eric Barnes and Memphis Daily News reporter Bill Dries talks with Marvin Stockwell of Friends of the Fairgrounds, Fred Jones, founder of the Southern Heritage Classic, and Paul Young, director of Memphis Housing and Community Development. 

Forty years ago today, Elvis Presley died in his Memphis home. As one of the world's biggest stars and a pioneering voice in rock and roll music, news of his death at age 42 would give rise to the cult of personality that endures still today. 


This week on WKNO's Behind the Headlines, Congressman Steve Cohen talks about some of the major issues facing legislators in Washington, from healthcare to the presidency. Host Eric Barnes is joined by Bill Dries of the Memphis Daily News. 

On this week's Behind the Headlines from WKNO, Reid Dulberger, President and CEO of EDGE, and Shawn Massey, partner at the Shopping Center Group, discuss the use of PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) incentives for local commercial real estate projects in the urban core. They are joined by Bill Dries of the Memphis Daily News and host Eric Barnes.

This week on WKNO's Behind the Headlines, journalists discuss grants for sanitation workers, the Beale Street Task Force, rape kits and more. Host Eric Barnes talks with Ryan Poe of the Commercial Appeal, Toby Sells of the Memphis Flyer, Bernal Smith of the New Tri-State Defender, and Bill Dries of the Memphis Daily News.

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