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.

 

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Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton described his administration's new focus in four P-words: Potholes, Public Safety, Pensions and Poverty. 


  The Tennessee Governor wants to crack down on meth production by making pseudoephedrine harder to get.


From singers to soldiers, the Mid-South lost some fascinating personalities in 2013. Here's a list of some of those who passed.


Christopher Blank

A poem from the streets of Memphis asks us to think about the plights of others and to give thanks for our blessings.

  

Christopher Blank

Since March, local college students have published a monthly newspaper for the homeless to sell. With winter's arrival, it's news that sustains.

In unexpected numbers, voters derail an initiative to bring universal Pre-K classes to Memphis.


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A "Yes" vote on the referendum would mean higher taxes in the check-out line. But is it worth free Pre-K classes for Memphis' 4-year-olds?


Roland Valliere, the new President and CEO of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, shares some thoughts about his first week on the job. 

Christopher Blank

If you've ever been out on the back roads near Jackson or Brownsville this time of year, you know why they call it the Tennessee Delta. Cotton is everywhere -- carpeting the fields, floating in the breeze like snow flurries. 

So it's fitting that this story begins in an antique cotton gin, a giant wood and metal machine about the size of a shotgun house, and twice as tall. This one is nearly a century old. In fact, this gin hasn’t ginned since the 1950s.

"We're still not completely finished putting it all together the way it was," says its owner John Freeman.

The Indie Memphis Film Festival kicks off on Halloween night this year. More than 40 movies will be screened as part of the festival. 

John Beifuss, film critic of the Commercial Appeal, shared some of his top picks for the festival, which are listed by day.

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