Tommy McFly makes up one third of the dynamic 94.7 FM morning show and is the namesake of The Tommy Show. His co-hosts, Kelly Collis and Jen Richer, along with Tommy help wake up the DMV on weekdays. They talk about almost anything that comes to mind and the music they spin matches their personalities. Listeners get to hear a morning show that is one-of-a-kind as they start their mornings listening on the radio or new techie apps on Radio.com from anywhere in the world. Many parts of The Tommy Show is truly unique — but what really sets them apart from their contemporaries is their coverage of the Washington Nationals, and they do it on a pop music radio station.
Set between stories of Taylor Swift or Meghan Markle you could get an Anthony Rendon reference or a tidbit about Bryce Harper‘s new hair product line with Blind Barber. It comes across as genuine and not an infomercial like their competitors.
Last year, we met Kelly, the OG Nats fan of the group. Kelly’s passion for the team is palpable, and like most of us, she lives with the exciting Curly Ws and dies with the excruciating losses. Kelly grew up a baseball fan, and she embraced the Nats when they moved to DC. Tommy, on the other hand, did not grow up a fan of the game, and he came to his Nats fandom via a much more circuitous route.
“I became a Nats fan because of Kelly Collis,” Tommy told me. “I played Little League growing up for 6 years. My dad was the coach, and I was barely able to play right field. [And I played] not because I was a great hitter like Bryce Harper did I get to play right field, but because I was terrible, and they felt bad because my dad volunteered so much time. [At the time] I hated baseball and I hated Little League and I hated everything about it. After that experience, I really shied away [from baseball].”
When Nats Park opened, Tommy attended an exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles, “just as a thing to do. It was a cool event in a city that I love,” Tommy said. That game experience wasn’t enough to convert him, however. His friendship with Kelly is what pushed him from baseball hater to Nats fan.
“[Kelly] is just such a Nats fan, in an evangelical Nats fan form, where she will make you a Nats fan and will make you love this team, or she will die trying,“ McFly continued. “She took me to a game, and she showed me how fun the stadium was. She spoon-fed the Nats to me.”
Through some gentle nudging and some delicious ballpark fare, and probably more than a few beers later, Tommy began to come around and see the light.
“I remember when I truly became a Nats fan was after the playoffs in 2012,” McFly recalled. “I remember leaving Nats Park with tears in my eyes, being like ‘holy cow, I’m a fan. This is real.’”
Through shared heartache with tens of thousands of others, Tommy’s love for the team was cemented. This new-found fandom has caused a few ruffled feathers in his life, however. Tommy’s husband Chrys grew up a baseball fan, and he’s partial to those orange and black birds North of the District.
“I have a blended family, and my husband is an O’s fan. He was born and raised in Baltimore, and I cannot get him to commit to being a true Nats fan,” Tommy said.
He admits to being “Baltimore curious,” and explained that when the Nats aren’t playing and the Os are home, he will accompany his husband to Camden Yards for a game.
He said he will wear a camo Orioles hat so that no one will see him there. That’s not how it works, Tommy, but I love the thought there. He is working on converting Chrys to the good side, though. His husband owns a Nats jersey, and will go to Nats games, and even cashed in some frequent flyer miles for NLDS Game 4 last year and flew up to Wrigley to watch that gem from Stephen Strasburg. While Chrys has made some strides, he doesn’t seem like he’s going to dump the O’s anytime soon.
“The Beltway Series gets ugly in our house,” McFly laughed. “I do make fun of him that his wussy American League team gets to use the designated hitter, and if they were real baseball players like the Nats, they’ll get up there and swing the damn bats.”
You tell him, Tommy. Ban the DH! It’s the worst.
The Tommy Show has developed a strong connection with the team that was organic, however that didn’t happen overnight. Talking about the Nats on-the-air isn’t what eventually caught the team’s attention — it was actually an article of clothing.
“I think really the spark that ignited everything was Kelly Collis’ skirt,” Tommy said. “Kelly had a skirt made of her son’s old Nats t-shirts, and we happened to be in the PNC Diamond Club one day with some friends who have tickets in there, and this woman comes up and is like ‘love your skirt, where did that come from?’ and Kelly said she had it made through an Etsy Shop.”
Tommy and Kelly spoke with this woman for about 30 minutes about merchandise available at the Park, not knowing who they were talking to. It turns out it was Valerie Camillo, Chief Marketing and Revenue Officer at the Nationals. As they say, you never know who you can meet at a baseball game.
Since connecting with Valerie Camillo, The Tommy Show has been able to broadcast from the field on Opening Day and even interview players in the clubhouse prior to the start of the season. They’ve gotten all types of swag from the team that they’ve used to host pep rallies and to help pump up the fans. All of this has allowed the show to engage with a different type of Nats fan that sports radio does not reach because 94.7 has a much different demographic.
“The Nats as an organization realize that people who are Nats fans are not just sports radio fans,” Tommy said. “We have an awesome sports radio station, WJFK, that runs the games, and they do a great job with what they do, but we’ve also got 94.7 Fresh FM that is a pop station, but we cover the culture and the lifestyle, and the fan lifestyle.”
Despite frequently talking about the team and working with them, The Tommy Show doesn’t get the regular calls from players and the GM like their sister station 106.7 The Fan does although many of us who have gravitated to their station wouldn’t mind the occasional impromptu call from Dave Martinez or even someone like the salty Brandon Kintzler.
Tommy embraces the different way his show covers the team versus traditional talk radio as Tommy, Kelly, and Jen are clear they are fans and that is their point of view.
“I think that Kelly, Jen, and I are more in the seats with the fans than we are a sports broadcaster,” McFly said. “So as much as you’d expect Bryce to come sit in section 134 when he’s not batting, I think you kind of have that expectation that of course the players are going to talk to the sports stations.”
Tommy, Kelly, and Jen have been lobbying for star outfielder Bryce Harper to call the show for a chat for what feels like eons.
“As much fun as it’s been to try to get Bryce Harper on, it’s been a great story line, we’d much rather have 80 Nats fans in our District Live Studio handing out swag and talking about superstitions and the kid that wants to spray paint the W on the side of his house than having Bryce Harper on.”
But if you were listening to their show on the morning of Opening Day, they did broadcast a locker room interview they did with Bryce Harper. It just was not the same as a live call-in. That said, Bryce, if you ever want to call and chat, they’d love to have you on. We know you call their sister station with Mercedes and JC in Las Vegas, so go ahead and give Tommy and company a call, too! It’ll be fun, I promise.
Tommy frequently asks others about their superstitions for bringing the team luck. I learned when I chatted with Kelly last year that she always has her jersey with her, even if she’s not wearing it. Tommy doesn’t have any strong superstitions of his own, though, at least not yet.
“I’m always looking to start a new tradition, especially in the playoffs,” he said.
So if anyone has any ideas, feel free to pass them along. He did tell me that he won’t wash his jersey if the team is winning. Fair warning for anyone who finds themselves sitting next to him at the ballpark on a warm summer day when the team has been on a hot streak.
I asked Tommy if he had a favorite moment from the team over the years, and he struggled to pick just one.
“There have been so many. It’s really hard to just narrow it down to one. Werth’s walkoff. I remember watching that live, and I’m screaming at my television. All of the things about Michael A. during the playoffs. Incredible. Seeing Trea Turner just come alive last year, holy cow that guy. I think they are just both tremendous.”
Tommy’s investment in the team goes beyond the players themselves and game moments, and he loves their community involvement.
“Last year when the team rolled out the rainbow flag in memory of the people who were killed in the Pulse Nightclub shooting. It’s so hard to pick just one moment. I think it’s really cool, too, coming off the exit here on 395 and seeing Ryan Zimmerman Field that the Nats Dream Foundation helps, and it’s just part of the community. That field will be there long after Ryan Zimmerman plays. Those moments all kind of culminate.”
Ever one to throw love at friend, co-host, and reason for his Natitude for Kelly, he also told me, “I think maybe my favorite moment, actually, was maybe 4 years ago when Kelly Collis got to do the ‘Washington Nationals Play Ball’ on the jumbo screen.” Like any good friend, he and Jen did their best to throw Kelly off her “A” game for her big Nats Park debut.
“Let’s talk about the 9 hours leading up to that moment when Kelly was practicing ‘Washington Nationals play ball’ and we were sort of messing with her trying to screw the script up. It was such a cool moment seeing her have that time because she’s done so much for me as a fan to see her up there doing that thing and getting that moment in front of everyone at Nats Park.”
In terms of his favorite guy on the team, Tommy has had a change of heart recently. It used to be Bryce, and his custom McFly jersey sports the number 34. These days, though, he’s leaning more towards some of the other guys.
“I think Michael A is frigging fantastic. I think that Trea Turner is incredible. I love rooting for the underdog. I feel that’s been and still is what we do here on the morning show. We celebrate everyday people. Bryce has got a lot of people where he’s their favorite player, so I think I’m more of a Turner or Michael A guy. I love to see [Trea] so passionate and you can just tell the fire in his eyes. I think Trea Turner is in the mood to kick a little ass this year, and I love that. We’re seeing him grow up. He’s a force to be reckoned with, and I love that we see that passion out of him.”
And, despite the less than ideal start to the season, Tommy is an optimist. He thinks the team breaks through this year and makes it to at least the second round of the playoffs. He’s so confident, he’s already scheduled to buy me a beer at game 1 of the NLCS. The superstitious fan in me is concerned about committing this to writing, but I love his confidence in the team. We’ve got a talented group of guys, and there’s not much that they can’t accomplish.
If you find yourself sitting in the car enjoying the fantastic traffic we have the privilege of experiencing here, flip over to 94.7 and give The Tommy Show a listen in the morning. Tommy, Kelly, and Jen are an energetic group that will get you fired up for both your day and the next Nats game.