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

Next Thursday's election will determine a number of hotly contested offices in Shelby County, from City Clerk to County Mayor. And statewide, Republicans and Democrats will choose their party's candidates for the general election in November.


Early voting continues in Shelby County, with a ballot that resembles a telephone directory of yore. This week on WKNO-TV's Behind the Headlines, a roundtable of local Memphis journalists discuss some of the issues that surround early voting, along with other newsworthy topics.

Host Eric Barnes is joined by Karanja Ajanaku of the New Tri-State Defender, Madeline Faber with High Ground News, Toby Sells of the Memphis Flyer and Bill Dries of the Memphis Daily News

This week, political analyst Otis Sanford joins us to discuss the fallout of Trump's Russia comments on the Tennessee Senate race. 

We also take a look at early voting results and get Sanford's impression from a recent debate between Shelby County Mayor candidates Lee Harris and David Lenoir. 


This week on WKNO-TV's Behind the Headlines, a look at efforts in Memphis to improve the progress of minority and women-owned businesses, including information about the 800 Initiative, a program to assist those businesses in growing capacity.

Joann Massey, director for the City of Memphis Business Diversity & Compliance, Leslie Lynn Smith, president and CEO for Epicenter and Andre Fowlkes, president of Start Co., talk about some of the overarching concerns with host Eric Barnes. 

After a flurry of legal proceedings this week, it came to this: a Chancery Court judge determined that the Shelby County Election Commission's plan for the first days of early voting discriminated against African Americans.


Memphis city streets have been buzzing with the latest in "shared mobility" transportation options. Some view the ability to pick up an electric scooter on various street corners as a fun new way to get around and explore the city. Others see an antidote to a bus system that is spotty or unreliable in some areas. This week on WKNO-TV's Behind the Headlines, City of Memphis Chief Operations Officer Doug McGowen and City Councilman Kemp Conrad discuss the new Bird scooters and Memphis Bike Share with host Eric Barnes and Bill Dries, senior reporter with the Memphis Daily News.

Political analyst Otis Sanford joins us to discuss several headlines from the past week. The first concerns Shelby County Democrats' objection to the Agricenter being the sole polling place open for the first four days of early voting. Sanford believes the concerns to be valid, as there is much media attention on the first few days of voting, and the location near Shelby Farms is inaccessible to many who rely on public transportation.

Few melodies are as universally relatable among Americans born between the late-1960s and the early 2000s as the theme song of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Which is why Memphis composer Jonathan Kirkscey could hardly believe his ears when Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville asked him to write the soundtrack to his latest documentary, Won't You Be My Neighbor?, now in theaters. The movie examines the cultural phenomenon that was children's show host Fred Rogers, while Kirkscey's score creates an emotional layer that leaves many viewers weeping into their popcorn. 


This week on WKNO-TV's Behind the Headlines, shared mobility has arrived in Memphis in various ways. The first major addition was Explore Bike Share, a company that provides rental bikes in docking areas throughout Downtown and Midtown. With the increased options for transportation comes new infrastructure to help cyclists get around. The expansion of the Memphis Greenway is one example.

Christopher Blank/ WKNO-FM

On WKNO's state politics recap, analyst Otis Sanford reacts to one of the week's biggest stories: President Trump insisted that Democrats were responsible for the government separating migrant children from their parents when they cross the border. He reversed course on Wednesday, ending the practice without an assist from Congress or Democrats. In Tennessee, Republican candidate for U.S.