Tommy Tomlinson

Columnist and host of SouthBound

Credit JEFF CRAVOTTA

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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Imagine if Amazon or Wal-Mart filed bankruptcy? It seems unthinkable, but the same could have been said about Sears for much of the 20th Century. But last week, Sears filed for bankruptcy. By the time it happened, it wasn’t a huge surprise. Still, the news has WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson feeling a bit nostalgic.

There is no shortage of news. That’s a common refrain in the news business. News is easy to access. But WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson says it’s also important to take a break from all the craziness and controversy

When it comes to civilized discourse, Twitter probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But a recent experience on Twitter gives WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson some cautious optimism.

The other day, I did something dumb on Twitter. Sometimes I think the whole purpose of Twitter is for people to go on there and commit the verbal equivalent of stepping on a rake. I have certainly stepped on more than one rake on Twitter. But this time, what interested me is how my dumb thing ended up playing out.

The Carolina Panthers made a big move last week that may have gotten lost amid coverage of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But its significance did not go unnoticed by WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson.

The Carolina Panthers made a strong statement in Sunday’s victory over Cincinnati. Another strong statement was recently made by the Panthers’ new owner that stood out to WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson for several reasons.

Jeff Cravotta

Two years ago Thursday, Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer. That shooting and the days of protests after his death, are seared into Charlotte’s collective memory. Or are they? 

Tommy Tomlinson
JEFF CRAVOTTA

As North Carolina deals with the fallout from Hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm Florence, WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson has his own ideas on how to deal with the storm – and how to treat one another, stormy days or not.

Rae Carruth, the former Carolina Panthers wide receiver convicted in 2001 of conspiring to murder his pregnant girlfriend, now has a different story about the night Cherica Adams was fatally shot in south Charlotte. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson says Carruth’s new version of what happened comes at a time that’s a little too convenient.

You could say that suburban towns in Mecklenburg County and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board are at a crossroads following last week’s approval of a controversial policy. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson has some other thoughts on the situation in this commentary.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system is stuck in what I think of as the car repair conundrum.

If you’ve ever been to one of those old-school places to get your car fixed, you might’ve seen some version of this sign: “Our service is good, fast and cheap. You can pick any two.”

There’s been a lot debate over Confederate monuments. One in downtown Salisbury was recently vandalized. Last week, the state Historical Commission voted to keep Confederate monuments on the state Capitol grounds, but to add signs that put them in context and erect memorials to African Americans. And there was the toppling of Silent Sam at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson says maybe it’s time to start over when it comes to monuments.

Maybe the way to start is by taking down ALL the statues.

The state of North Carolina is still trying to modify the contract it signed four years ago with a Spanish company to add toll lanes to I-77 from north Charlotte to Mooresville. State officials met last week without coming up with any solutions. Meanwhile, the construction drags on and traffic backs up. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson says the whole deal was based on a flawed premise.

It’s been nearly a year since U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren  made this memorable statement to Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan:

“You enabled this fake-accounts scam, you got rich off it, and you tried to cover it up. At best you were incompetent — at worst you were complicit. Either way, you should be fired."

Warren has renewed her call for Sloan’s firing with news of another Well Fargo scandal. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson shares his thoughts on that scandal in this commentary.

Hamilton debuts in Charlotte in two months, and there’s a lot of excitement. Last week, it took just four hours to sell out its nearly 4-week run uptown. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson did not get tickets. But he has some ideas where he – and you – can spend money. 


Something almost unprecedented is going on in Charlotte right now. There’s a big event that might come to town, and our city leaders are actually considering saying no.

Tommy Tomlinson / WFAE

Tommy Tomlinson, host of WFAE’s SouthBound podcast, spends most of his time talking about things on this side of the Mason-Dixon Line. But recently, he found a little piece of the South up North.

Jeff Cravotta

The fatal shooting of five journalists last week at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., certainly has many newsrooms more mindful of security. WFAE’s Tommy Tomlinson shares his thoughts on the subject in this commentary.

MICHAEL FALERO / WFAE

Jerry Richardson was a community hero for bringing the NFL to Charlotte in 1993. As owner of the Panthers, he became affectionately known as The Big Cat.

Erin Rae is a singer out of Nashville who you’re going to be hearing a lot more about. She signed a record deal with Single Lock Records, the label co-founded by John Paul White, formerly of the Civil Wars. Erin Rae’s songs remind me of those Civil Wars songs – her music is quiet and intimate, trying to make sense of conflicted feelings. 

Bobby Jones driving on Larry Bird in a Philadelphia-Boston game in the '80s.
Courtesy of The 76ers

Bobby Jones built a basketball career on his ability to guard other players, to the point where Nike created a marketing campaign calling him the Secretary of Defense. He was an All-Star five times in his 12-year pro career and won an NBA title in 1983 as a member of a great Philadelphia 76ers team that included Moses Malone and Dr. J, Julius Erving. 

Courtesy of the Artist

Kathy Izard -- our latest guest on the SouthBound podcast -- chose the first six songs on this week's Radio Hour in honor of her work with Charlotte's homeless. I filled out the playlist with some of my home-related picks. Enjoy at your home ... and maybe think about those who don't have one.

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