Christopher Blank

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?

Before the 1960s, if musicians wanted to make a political statement, they might do it with a song. Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit" or Frank Sinatra's "The House I Live In" could be issued as commentary, yet still fly under the radar of politics. Today, many artists are expected to take more public and nuanced stands on issues, sometimes to their detriment. Zandria Robinson, sociology professor at Rhodes College, says that today's outspokenness is part of a changing industry, but not unprecedented. 


This week on WKNO's Behind the Headlines, our journalists' roundtable discussion digs into some current issues, including the controversy with Paint Memphis murals and questions about charter schools. Host Eric Barnes talks with Ryan Poe of the Commercial Appeal, Laura Faith Kebede of Chalkbeat Tennessee, Toby Sells of the Memphis Flyer and Bill Dries of the Memphis Daily News

This week on WKNO-TV's Behind the Headlines, Dr. Marjorie Hass, President of Rhodes College, discusses the impact of Rhodes on the city of Memphis and more. She is joined by host Eric Barnes and Bill Dries, senior reporter for the Memphis Daily News. 


This week on WKNO's Behind the Headlines, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and Shelby County Health Department Director Dr. Alisa Haushalter discuss the county's efforts to deal with the opioid crisis.

It's budget season and officials are discussing how the money will be spent. On WKNO's Behind the Headlines, Shelby County Commission Chair Heidi Shafer and Memphis City Council Chair Berlin Boyd talk about the budget and more this week. 

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