Tommy Tomlinson

Columnist and host of SouthBound


Tommy Tomlinson has written for publications including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Garden & Gun, and many others. He spent 23 years as a reporter and local columnist for the Charlotte Observer, where he was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. His stories have been chosen twice for the “Best American Sports Writing” series (2012 and 2015) and he also appears in the anthology “America’s Best Newspaper Writing.”

He teaches magazine writing at Wake Forest University and has also taught at the University of Georgia, Queens University of Charlotte and the Poynter Institute. He has been a speaker at workshops and conferences across the country.

His book “The Elephant In the Room,” a memoir about life as an overweight man in a growing America, will be published soon by Simon & Schuster.

He’s a graduate of the University of Georgia and was a 2008-09 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Tommy and his wife, Alix Felsing, live in Charlotte.

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New episodes of SouthBound will be published every other week on Wednesday.

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One of my favorite things about America is that we don’t have royalty — unless you count Beyoncé.

No matter your culture or upbringing, at some point, if you live in the South, you wind up in a Waffle House.

Duke Energy has finally agreed to defuse the time bombs it planted all over North Carolina.

We’re now in the weird little space between Christmas and New Year’s – sort of the holidays and sort of not. It’s a time of transition, a change in the way we look at the world. Christmas is about the story we tell one another. New Year’s is about the story we tell ourselves.

The "SouthBound" podcast is more than two years old, and Tommy Tomlinson has given us insight into the lives of Southerners from all walks of life with his conversations. From artists to athletes to preachers and politicians, here are his picks for his favorite voices from the South in 2019.

Here’s a holiday gift from us here at SouthBound: a replay of our 2018 interview with fashion icon Andre Leon Talley.

Amid all the cheers last week about Charlotte getting a Major League Soccer team, there was one small troubling thing and one larger troubling thing.

Sometimes, when I send people to Brooks’ Sandwich House, I feel the need to give them a heads-up. It doesn’t look like much – just a little red cinder-block box. You’ll probably have to wait. There’s nowhere to sit. But none of that matters. It’s worth it.

Erika Council grew up among food royalty.

One of her grandmothers owned the classic soul-food restaurant Mama Dip’s in Chapel Hill. And now Erika has found her own prominent place in Southern food, especially through her biscuits, the centerpiece of her Bomb Biscuits pop-up meals in Atlanta.

Ron Rivera was the fourth head coach in Carolina Panthers history, and I’m trying to remember anything interesting about the first three. Dom Capers wore a ball cap. George Seifert was better in San Francisco. John Fox had a voice like mine and loved to say “it is what it is.”

I follow a strange Twitter account called – well, I should stop there. I follow a lot of strange Twitter accounts. But the one I want to talk about today is called Year Progress.

Vivian Howard

Today we’re replaying a previously aired episode of "SouthBound" with chef and TV host Vivian Howard.

We are just a few days from a Thanksgiving that some of you are dreading.

The holidays can often be weird if you’re in a family that 1) is divided politically and 2) can’t help but talk about it. But this year seems more fraught than usual. We’ve spent the past few months arguing about impeaching the president, and the past couple weeks watching and listening to the actual impeachment hearings.

There was a sad but inevitable announcement last week: The Charlotte Observer is eliminating one of its days in print.

When author Kevin Wilson talks about combustibles, he means exactly what he says. His new novel, “Nothing To See Here,” features a set of twins who, when they get agitated, literally catch on fire.

I was a library kid. I can still hear the squeak of the hardwood floors in the little library in my hometown in Georgia. I can still smell the faint must of the pages. I can still see the blue spines of the Hardy Boys books I devoured like potato chips. The library had all the books I wanted for free. It seemed like a miracle. It still seems that way.

If you want to find a reason why Charlotte-Mecklenburg voters rejected a sales tax increase for the arts, parks and education, you’ve got lots of choices.

Let’s pretend for a second that you’re Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. It’s a nice fantasy. You are a 6-5 NFL prototype who looks like a surfer and throws like Zeus. You led the Tigers to a national title last year as a freshman, and your team is undefeated again this season. Clemson has never lost with you at quarterback.

Mitch Landrieu
Mitch Landrieu

Mitch Landrieu comes from one of the South’s most storied political families.

His dad, Moon Landrieu, was mayor of New Orleans for 28 years. His sister, Mary, was a U.S. Senator. Mitch was lieutenant governor of Louisiana and then mayor of New Orleans from 2010 to 2018. After leaving office he founded the E Pluribus Unum Fund to study issues involving race in the South.

On a February morning in 1947, in the darkness before dawn, 31 white men gathered in Pickens County, South Carolina.

A white cab driver had been robbed and stabbed two nights before. A black man named Willie Earle had been arrested for the crime. But the 31 white men did not wait for a trial. They showed up at the jail with shotguns. The jailer gave them Willie Earle. An hour later, somebody placed a call to a funeral home, notifying them where to find a dead black man on a dirt road west of Greenville.