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?

Last Tuesday, two very different political events took place in the Midsouth, both in style and substance. A Tennessee gubernatorial debate at the University of Memphis found Republican Bill Lee and Democrat Karl Dean politely touting their policies on education, crime, healthcare and more. 

Later that evening, President Donald Trump appeared in Southaven, Miss., where he mocked an alleged victim of sexual assault. Political analyst Otis Sanford is among those who view Trump's performance and the continued polariation of the left and right as a nadir in American politics. 

This week, Tennessee's candidates for U.S. Senate took the stage at Cumberland University in Lebanon for an hour-long debate. The fast-moving format covered much ground: immigration, healthcare and infrastructure, among them. 

When the Memphis Police Department made a sizable investment in body cameras, accountiblility and transparency were among the reasons cited for their implementation. Police encounters that are recorded are less likely to end up with complaints filed. Local governments can monitor the types of interactions being had between law enforcement and citizens.