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

Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

A photo and film exhibit at Crosstown Arts reflects on last January's Women's March on Washington D.C. Filmmakers Sara Kaye Larson and Joann Self Selvidge, along with Yalonda M. James, a photojournalist for the Commercial Appeal, wanted to put the viewer right in the middle of a march, and by extension, a movement.


Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

In his new book, From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis Politics, Otis Sanford examines the winning political strategy of E.H.Crump, at one time the most powerful politician in the state of Tennessee.


Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

The first harvest of the spring has alighted, along with the openings of various Mid-South farmers’ markets. The warm winter weather’s parting crescendo is an early bud and bloom, bearing gifts galore to grateful gourmands. 

 


On the political map, Tennessee is nearly solid red and religiously conservative. But even in its islands of blue, liberals vote with their spiritual beliefs in tow. Around 63 percent of Shelby County voters consider themselves Christians. And 63 percent of Shelby County voters chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump (who earned 35 percent) for President last November. So election night for many Christians (and liberals) wasn’t easy.


Photo Courtesy of Chalkbeat Tennessee

Tennessee's largest school district is doing something different next year: more spending than belt-tightening. At least, that's what's projected for Shelby County Schools' new $945 million budget.


Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

With the opening of Elvis Presley’s Memphis, a $45-million expansion of the Graceland entertainment complex, Elvis Presley Enterprises is counting on future generations to keep the King’s memory alive and his estate in order.


Valentine's Day, just around the corner, is a fine time to muse upon love and all its mysteries. Some of those mysteries take longer to -- ahem -- unearth than others. So we'll dig deeper, with the help of Bob Barnett, assistant director at Elmwood Cemetery. 


Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

A day after the Presidential Inauguration, an estimated 6,000 demonstrators marched through downtown Memphis in support of women's rights. Similar marches were held across the country to protest President Trump's policies.

Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

Tony Fletcher's new biography, In the Midnight Hour: The Life & Soul of Wilson Pickett, delivers new insight into both the great American soul singer's life and some of his classic tunes, several of which were recorded at Memphis' Stax Records. In fact, Pickett's career finally skyrocketed after his Memphis sessions. Fletcher tells WKNO why songs like "In the Midnight Hour" have such staying power. 


Image provided by Loaded for Bear

Last April, when Robby Grant and Jonathan Kirkscey borrowed a pair of vintage Mellotrons from local collector Winston Eggleston, their sold-out concerts revived interest in the instrument famous for its futuristic sounds used by everyone from the Beatles to Radiohead. Nine months later, their compositions are finally available on a record called "Duets for Mellotron."


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