Christopher Blank

News Director

It all started with ghost stories. Dad convinced me that spirits lurked just outside my bedroom door at night. After years of night terrors, I began listening to LPs of spooky tales, memorizing them and acting them out around campfires on those balmy winter nights in South Florida. In this way, other children would suffer as I had.
Naturally, this dramatic flair evolved into a prestigious four-year engagement on the high school drama circuit where my mother’s rapturous reviews provoked standing ovations also from my mother.
One day, while working part time as a copy clerk at the St. Petersburg Times, an editor asked me why my hair was dyed bright orange. I explained that it was because I was “an actor.” Was my future decided out of pity? Out of concern for my mental health? I cannot read minds. However, the next thing that happened is that I was made a theater critic.
For more than a decade, The Commercial Appeal’s readers tolerated my opinions on everything from classical music to ballet. Even WKNO-FM let me create a little club for theatergoers.
When this fine radio station went looking for someone to tell stories of the “news” variety, I made the argument that Memphis is a city full of great stories; no other has a richer cultural narrative. The crossroads of America is a crucible of stories from all walks of life. Also, crossroads are known for ghosts and devils, and who doesn’t love those?
They totally bought the argument. So now, I’m looking for great stories. What’s yours?

Ways to Connect

Today is another Election Day in Memphis, a run-off for five city council seats in districts 2,3,4,5 and 7. Even in smaller elections like this one, polls must be manned. That draws a dedicated group of workers year after year, many of whom do the job out of civic pride (and a little money.)

Vietnam veteran Doug Bradley and college professor Craig Werner examine the tunes that both united and divided American GIs during the Vietnam War.

Jennifer Biggs

Two years ago, the Commercial Appeal food writer compiled her second list of “100 Memphis Foods to Eat Before You Die.” Despite her own resistance, she’s done it again.

With hits such as “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Coming,” the singing duo Sam & Dave were among the top artists on the Stax roster. Sam Moore, 80, talks with us about  his music and his career. 

A seven-year drop in Shelby County’s teen birthrate shines a spotlight on organizations such as A Step Ahead Foundation, which offer access to costlier -- and more reliable -- birth control methods.

Christopher Blank

On today's Culture Desk, Scott Morris of the Church Health Center says that the renovation to the formerly abandoned Sears warehouse -- called Crosstown Concourse -- could affect the overall health of Memphis.

In Part II of this story on how race affects the campaigns of the 2015 Memphis mayoral election, WKNO asks how the city should help build black wealth – not merely lure more jobs.

In Part One of this story on how race factors into the Memphis mayoral election, we learn that different communities often interpret very different messages in some campaign rhetoric.

The popular channel 5 weatherman spent years as a wrestling commentator -- a part time job that, he says, would not be possible today.

Film critic John Beifuss says the classic 1939 film might seem politically incorrect today, but it could also reveal commentary on the South's original sin.