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

Graceland Too, a strange landmark in Holly Springs, Miss., was sold at auction last weekend. Here's what happened to the late owner's "magnificent obsession."

There was always something overwhelming and unsettling about a visit to Paul MacLeod’s house, which he had transformed into an eerie and claustrophobic tribute to Elvis Presley. He called it Graceland Too.

MovieMaker Magazine, once again, lists Memphis as one of the top ten cities for filmmakers to live and work in. Commercial Appeal film critic John Beifuss explains why.

In its 2015 list of the the ten best cities for moviemaking, Memphis ranked No. 7. The article noted that Memphis filmmakers generated 626 production jobs.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz spoke with WKNO about the President's proposal to make two-year community college free for all Americans.

Modeled after Republican Governor Bill Haslam's "Tennessee Promise," it was just one of many proposals offered during Tuesday's State of the Union speech centered on "middle-class economics." President Obama also pushed affordable child care, paid sick and maternity leave and equal pay for women.

Today on WKNO’s Culture Desk, we celebrate the 80th birthday of Elvis Presley, born in a shotgun house in Tupelo, Miss. He would later become the best-selling solo artist in the history of recorded music.

Though the first generation of Elvis fans are well into their 60s and 70s, Elvis' popularity on the Internet is remarkably stable, consistently hovering above many young artists with huge national exposure. 

Terri Lee Freeman, the new director of the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, didn't expect a new chapter in the movement so soon on her watch. But the museum won't wait on the sidelines.

The Golden Age of railroad travel may be in the past, but that doesn't mean Central Station is through making history.

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.