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
1:00 am
Fri November 22, 2013

Memphis Rejects Sales Tax Hike for Pre-K Ed

In unexpected numbers, voters derail an initiative to bring universal Pre-K classes to Memphis.


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EDUCATION
7:30 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Will Voters Back Tax Hike for Pre-K in Memphis?

Credit Flickr Commons

A "Yes" vote on the referendum would mean higher taxes in the check-out line. But is it worth free Pre-K classes for Memphis' 4-year-olds?


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Music Business
2:53 pm
Mon November 11, 2013

First Week on the Job for Memphis Symphony CEO

In the short term, new Memphis Symphony Orchestra President and CEO Roland Valliere wants to see which business model works the best for the organization.

Now starting his second week on the job, Roland Valliere speaks with Christopher Blank about his vision for the Memphis Symphony's future.

Roland Valliere, the new President and CEO of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, shares some thoughts about his first week on the job. 

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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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