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


On this week's episode of WKNO's Behind the Headlines, host Eric Barnes and reporter Bill Dries talk with Jerry Collins, exiting president and CEO of Memphis Light, Gas & Water. Collins discusses the company's past, present and future. 

Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

Memphis is among a host of cities trying to lure the new Amazon headquarters, called HQ2, with major incentives. City leaders recently promised $60 million in perks, including $10 million for upgrades to transportation infrastructure. But John Paul Shaffer of BLDG Memphis says that efforts to enhance the city's attractiveness to businesses are ongoing.


This week on WKNO's Behind the Headlines, Toby Sells of the Memphis Flyer and Bill Dries of the Memphis Daily News talk about what's next for the Confederate monuments, the fairgrounds and more. Host Eric Barnes leads this roundtable of local journalists. 


This week on WKNO's Behind the Headlines, Mauricio Calvo, executive director for Latino Memphis, and Dr. John Smarrelli, president of Christian Brothers University, discuss the impact of immigration and DACA on the local community with Bill Dries, senior reporter for the Memphis Daily News, and host Eric Barnes. 

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.


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


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.