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

Chalkbeat reporter Oliver Morrison explains controversy behind $3 million in recent Pre-K funding.

Christopher Blank

The early records of Elvis, Johnny, Carl and Jerry Lee all had a certain "sound." A young recording engineer at Sun Studio recreates it for today's bands.

Matt Ross-Spang tells NPR some of the secrets behind the recording process of producer Sam Phillips. But here's one cool detail that didn't make the main story: "the Rockabilly Hiccup."

It was a byproduct of the "slapback echo" effect that Phillips liked to use.

Activists avoided the phrase "historic preservation," then partied for a month. It may just save a Memphis landmark.  

A new program at UT Health Science Center encourages students to bring up the touchy subject of "what happens if." 

Author Wayne Dowdy emerges from the archives of Memphis' Central Library with a new book of incredible, and mostly-forgotten "only in Memphis" historical events -- one for each day of the year. 


Christopher Blank

Anita Norman, 17, bested 365,000 other high school students nationwide in the annual Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington DC. Her recitations may amaze you.

A national cooking competition challenges the taste buds and instincts of teenage cooks to transform one of the most maligned meals of childhood. Shelby County Schools will represent in Washington.

In this week's Capitol Hill Conversation, we look at some of the laws passed in the General Assembly this year, and the winners and losers in the legislature. 

Christopher Blank

A new exhibit at the Cotton Museum explores female beauty in a city where cotton was once king. So what was the picture of beauty? Well, it depends on who's in the portrait.

Tennessee Brewery Untapped

 The historic Tennessee Brewery may not be around much longer. But before the building has a date with the wrecking ball, one group wants you to enjoy some suds in its courtyard, and maybe even help figure out a way to save this Memphis landmark.

Pierre Kimsey talks with Tommy Pacello from the Mayor's Innovation Delivery Team and attorney Michael Tauer.