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?

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EDUCATION
7:30 am
Tue February 18, 2014

A Line of the Times: School Choice in Tennessee's Worst School District

Memphis, Jan. 22, 2014 -- Within 12 hours of one person starting a line outside Shelby County Schools, parents began pitching tents to get students into optional programs, expecting a five-day wait. Due to cold temperatures, school officials honored a sign-up sheet and that allowed campers to go home.
Credit Christopher Blank

In a county with dozens of optional school programs, many parents still see few options. Why does Shelby County Schools struggle to retain the best and the brightest?

Every year, in the middle of January, hundreds of Memphis parents load up their mini-vans with tents, portable generators and a few days’ worth of provisions. Then, the stakeout begins. They drive past the Shelby County Schools administration building, waiting for somebody to start the line.

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News and Features
7:30 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Guns and Recreation: State Wants to Overrule Cities on Guns in Parks

Five years ago, Tennessee lawmakers voted to allow guns in parks, but gave cities the right to opt out of the law. Now, they're shooting down the city veto.


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FINANCE
7:30 am
Thu February 13, 2014

64,000 Tennesseans Paid Too Much In Taxes! Don't Make This Mistake.

Uncle Sam's money rep for Tennessee tells us how you can save money and find free tax assistance.

Interview with Dan Boone from the Internal Revenue Service.

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CAPITOL HILL CONVERSATION
1:24 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Free 2-Year College Proposal Has Potential, Problems

Governor Bill Haslam shakes hands with students at Dyersburg State Community College in September, 2013. In addition to his Tennessee Promise tuition plan, the Governor’s budget includes funding for a new Williamson County campus of Columbia State and a new humanities building at Volunteer State in Gallatin.
Credit TN Photo Services/Flickr

Capitol Hill Conversation unpacks Governor Bill Haslam's proposal to offer every Tennessee high school grad a free 2-year college education.


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News and Features
4:55 pm
Fri January 31, 2014

"No Reserves": MSO May Go Broke by April

Without an immediate cash infusion, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra could play its final concert in March.


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