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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Travel
7:30 am
Thu November 7, 2013

Out of the Past, a Rural Village Emerges

These rustic log cabins were once scattered across the West Tennessee landscape.
Credit Christopher Blank

If you've ever been out on the back roads near Jackson or Brownsville this time of year, you know why they call it the Tennessee Delta. Cotton is everywhere -- carpeting the fields, floating in the breeze like snow flurries. 

So it's fitting that this story begins in an antique cotton gin, a giant wood and metal machine about the size of a shotgun house, and twice as tall. This one is nearly a century old. In fact, this gin hasn’t ginned since the 1950s.

"We're still not completely finished putting it all together the way it was," says its owner John Freeman.

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Cinema
7:30 am
Tue October 29, 2013

Critic's Picks for Indie Memphis

The film "August: Osage County," based on the Pulitzer Prize winning stage play by Tracy Letts, is among the big movies screening at the Indie Memphis Film Festival.

The Indie Memphis Film Festival kicks off on Halloween night this year. More than 40 movies will be screened as part of the festival. 

John Beifuss, film critic of the Commercial Appeal, shared some of his top picks for the festival, which are listed by day.

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Advice
7:30 am
Fri October 11, 2013

Mixing Politics and Facebook ([click] De-friend)

Credit WKNO Art Department

    

It's sooo tempting... This article I’m reading, right now... About the government shutdown…It represents everything that’s in my brain. And with a single click, everyone I’m friends with -- and even a bunch of people I’m not -- will know where I stand. They’re gonna read this, and they’ll see the light. And peace will guide the planets, and love will steer the stars…

And that, my fellow Facebook users, is how all epic social media battles begin.

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POLITICS
7:30 am
Wed October 2, 2013

Obamacare: Left, Right and In Effect

WKNO's News Director Christopher Blank recently interviewed three people about the current shutdown of the federal government over the funding of Obamacare. Listen below for thoughts by Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen, Shelby County Republican Party chairman Justin Joy, and Obamacare policy expert Paige Powell from the University of Memphis.

It's just a sad case of the leadership which is Republican being controlled by the Tea Party faction and making demands that are unreasonable and political in nature and shutting down the government... it's amateur night. 

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Music
7:30 am
Mon September 23, 2013

Opera in the Rough

Logan Rucker, on the mike, is an opera singer from Granbury, TX taking part in Opera Memphis' 30 Days of Opera. He is accompanied by music director Ben Makino playing on an orange Casio keyboard at the Cooper Young Festival
Credit Charlene Honeycutt

A video, which is posted on youtube.com, shows a couple of kids in a Memphis grocery store.

They approach a table where they have the option to taste a few different cookies. After a short discussion, they boys finally decide on which sample they want. Suddenly, an opera singer, who had been roaming the aisles, leaps into the video and sings an aria from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.”

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