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

Louis Graham sees hard journalism as the key to the Commercial Appeal's future. In the meantime, Memphis' largest paper will lose some frills.  


Esmeralda Martinez, an elementary school teacher at Catholic Jubilee Schools, is the focus of our third installment in the "Stories of Champions" series.


In our second "Stories of Champions" installment, Gabriel Fotsing helps students throughout the Mississippi delta navigate the college admissions process. 

Fotsing is the founder of The College Initiative, a Memphis-based nonprofit organization that spends time with students explaining the often-complicated process of college admissions. Many students, Fotsing says, don't realize what is out there, either in terms of college programs or opportunities for scholarships.

NeShante Brown, a founding member of the Soulsville Charter School, is the first profile in our "Stories of Champions" series.

Christopher Blank

Youth advocate Stevie Moore hopes that community leaders follow through on promises following recent teen violence.

  Arne Duncan, the U.S. Department of Education Secretary visited Tennessee on his annual bus tour of states.

Investigative reporter Marc Perrusquia talks with WKNO about covering the Memphis Police Department's mishandling of more than 12,000 rape kits.

Loved by musicians but often overlooked by listeners, Charles Ives never made popular music. Jazz arranger Jack Cooper gives him a new groove most can agree on.

Christopher Blank

The eccentric owner of Graceland Too devoted his life to Elvis. Can his unusual shrine be saved? 

The Commercial Appeal's arts writers try to pick the best songs written about Memphis. How well did they do?