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

This is it. Time to play your part in the American Experiment. Polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Click here for a list of Shelby County polling locations.

Click here for a sample ballot.

Want to download an app to keep up with Tennessee election results when the polls close tonight? Click here.

Commercial Appeal film writer John Beifuss talks about two local documentaries premiering at this year's Indie Memphis Film Festival -- "The Invaders" and "Destroy Memphis."

Christopher Blank

For an entire year, reporter Daniel Connolly embedded in Memphis' Kingsbury High School to learn more about the challenges faced by children of Latin-American immigrants. As Shelby County's Hispanic population grows, so do questions of how to best prepare children for an uncertain future.

Learn more about the book at danielconnolly.net

Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

Every Memphis neighborhood has a unique character, sometimes the result of hard work by residents, and sometimes from the hard work of code enforcement officers. On its surface, blight takes the form of an aesthetic problem. But it’s one that generates an enormous amount of work for local government.


Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

After the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007, the number of blight studies across the county grew exponentially. With better information, researchers and local governments began comparing new data sets to get a clearer picture of how to deal with blight.


Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

Sure, there’s plenty of bad graffiti out there, along with enough dilapidated buildings to keep bulldozers busy for years. But let’s face it: How many times have you stopped to Instagram a great piece of street art – legal or otherwise? Could Memphis actually be a beautiful city?


Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

The newsreel footage from the 1950s isn't a hoax: for years, Memphis indeed claimed the title “America’s Cleanest City." More than eight decades after Mayor E.H. “Boss” Crump created the Memphis City Beautiful Commission, the current Mayor is overseeing a much larger blight problem. Can beauty be restored?  


Christopher Blank/WKNO-FM

A beautiful city conjures images of clean streets and well-kept lawns. But there’s also the invisible: beauty’s impact on health, education, safety, and civic pride. In the first installment of our series, “City of Grit,” we look at why it is vital to predict and tackle blight before it starts to spread.


Brooks Museum of Art

It's one of the Brooks Museum's most popular paintings: "At the Foot of the Cliff," by William-Adolphe Bouguereau. As curator Stanton Thomas points out in this week's Culture Desk, the artist's dreamy and creamy brush strokes have beguiled art lovers for more than a century. But his contemporaries -- particularly the Impressionists -- weren't entirely uncritical of Bouguereau's smooth moves.


Brooks Museum of Art

The Brooks Museum of Art turned 100 this year, and some of its earliest art works on display were those donated by its founders and supporters. That's true of this painting by the American artist Cecelia Beaux. The subject of the portrait is Mrs. Samuel Hamilton Brooks (nee Bessie Vance), whose financial gift to the museum included the family name. Museum director Emily Ballew Neff tells more.


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