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

Next week, on April 9, thousands will gather in Appomattox, Virginia to mark the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War. While the city of Memphis spent most of the war years under Union control, the city would play a major role as a beacon of freedom for many enslaved people, says Rhodes College history professor Timothy S. Huebner.

A new documentary by Ken Burns focuses on one of the world's most insidious diseases. "Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies" concludes a 3-part series tonight on WKNO Channel 10. WKNO's Pierre Kimsey found one researcher in Memphis who is specializing in just one part of a much larger puzzle.

    

From WPLN in Nashville, Chas Sisk and Emil Moffatt discuss new gun proposals in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Philip Mudd, former Deputy Director of the Counter-terrorist Center at the CIA, shares insights on terrorism with WKNO's Pierre Kimsey. 

Mudd is author of the book "Take Down: Inside the Hunt for Al Qaeda." He was also the Deputy Director of the National Security Branch at the FBI. He has recently moved to Memphis and works in the private sector. Read more about him here.

Jennifer Biggs

 

Food writer Jennifer Biggs discovers more than 50 independently-owned restaurants and specialty food stores hiding along Germantown Parkway. But where to start eating? 

 


In a two-minute speech to the Tennessee General Assembly last week, Shelia Butt, a state Rep. from Colombia, said she was not racist.

Christopher Blank

The Beale Street Music Festival's 2015 line up is top-heavy with younger, hotter acts, says music writer Bob Mehr.

Commercial Appeal music writer Bob Mehr says the way festivals book their bands is changing, leading to stronger lineups on the circuit. 

Click here for a full roster of this year's Memphis in May Beale Street Music Fest.

After a week of sleet and snow in Nashville, legislators get back to work discussing new bills. Nashville Public Radio's Emil Moffatt and Chas Sisk review a few of them.

Commercial Appeal film critic John Beifuss talked with us about Sunday's Academy Awards, along with the debate around films "Selma" and "American Sniper."

Beifuss predicts a best picture showdown between "Boyhood" and "Birdman." 

Christopher Blank

A box of chocolates, a nice dinner: Valentine's Day wouldn't be the same without the people who make the chocolates and the dinners.

  

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