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

In his new memoir, Memphis Man: Living High, Laying Low, musician and producer Don Nix opens up about his life, his A-list friends and his music. 

One ballet in particular speaks right to the hearts of children. For many young dancers, Tchaikovsky’s "Nutcracker” is as synonymous with the holiday spirit as Santa Claus, sleigh rides and caroling. 

Today is another Election Day in Memphis, a run-off for five city council seats in districts 2,3,4,5 and 7. Even in smaller elections like this one, polls must be manned. That draws a dedicated group of workers year after year, many of whom do the job out of civic pride (and a little money.)

Vietnam veteran Doug Bradley and college professor Craig Werner examine the tunes that both united and divided American GIs during the Vietnam War.

Jennifer Biggs

Two years ago, the Commercial Appeal food writer compiled her second list of “100 Memphis Foods to Eat Before You Die.” Despite her own resistance, she’s done it again.

With hits such as “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Coming,” the singing duo Sam & Dave were among the top artists on the Stax roster. Sam Moore, 80, talks with us about  his music and his career. 

A seven-year drop in Shelby County’s teen birthrate shines a spotlight on organizations such as A Step Ahead Foundation, which offer access to costlier -- and more reliable -- birth control methods.

Christopher Blank

On today's Culture Desk, Scott Morris of the Church Health Center says that the renovation to the formerly abandoned Sears warehouse -- called Crosstown Concourse -- could affect the overall health of Memphis.

In Part II of this story on how race affects the campaigns of the 2015 Memphis mayoral election, WKNO asks how the city should help build black wealth – not merely lure more jobs.

In Part One of this story on how race factors into the Memphis mayoral election, we learn that different communities often interpret very different messages in some campaign rhetoric.