November 20, 2015

PHOTOS: Kojo Nnamdi, Tom Sherwood And Mary Cheh Get D.C. Flag Tattoos

By Ruth Tam

Let’s be real. Working for a daily talk show is a grind. But there are moments that make working in news –especially WAMU– worth it.

On Oct. 23, 2015, Kojo Nnamdi was hosting a regular ol’ Politics Hour with political analyst Tom Sherwood and guest, council member Mary Cheh. The only thing different about that Friday was that it was the last day of the WAMU membership drive. The station typically gives out tote bags and mugs to thank donors, but for the past four years, Tom has offered to ink his body with a D.C. flag if any individual donated $5,000.


This year, a 23-year-old listener named Nick took the bait –and it was a good thing he waited. This year, Tom lowered the ask to $3,000 and Kojo and council member Cheh joined in. $1,000 per tattoo is a steal, folks.

Nick is a recent American University graduate who has listened to the Kojo Nnamdi Show nearly every day for the past two years. We talked on the phone the day he donated, but we finally got to meet him today at Fatty’s Tattoos and Piercings. Frankly, he’s rad.


Council member Cheh was the only one of the trio who already had a tattoo. It’s the nickname for her two daughters on her left foot, which she touched up today with their initials. Today, Nikki Lugo of Tattoo Paradise in Adams Morgan added council member Cheh’s flag design –with three hearts instead of stars– to her right foot.

When council member Cheh finished her tattoo first, Tom yelled across the room to her, “Where is it?”

“It’s on MY BUTT.”


By far, the most talkative during the tattoo process was Tom Sherwood. Is anyone surprised?

“I don’t think I’ve sat this long since the third grade,” he offered at one point.

In regard to how getting a tattoo actually felt, he compared it to “a series of bee stings” later clarifying that it was probably a 2 or 3 on a scale of 10. 

When someone asked him if he’d consider any additional designs from Fatty of Fatty’s Tattoos and Piercings, he declined.

“It’s like my children,” he said, referencing his only son Peyton. “One and done.”


Kojo had the smallest tattoo of the bunch, inked on by Eric Doyle of Jinx Proof. It was an understated and classic design, like the man himself.

As Michael said: “The coolest guy in public radio is getting cooler. And he’s wearing a hat.”


Producer Michael Martinez (who dreamed up this whole tattoo challenge in 2011) didn’t hold back on his enthusiasm today, or according to him, “the best day in the history of the District of Columbia.” He livestreamed the entire event on Periscope, and a video will be available later this week.


Our donor, Nick got a glimpse of the craziness in real life. He lives in Glover Park, a neighborhood council member Cheh represents as part of Ward 3.


“It was quite painful, but I think, well worth it,” said council member Cheh of her second tattoo. “We’re going to have to start a trend. This is a good way to engage people on statehood, don’t you think?

“If I do this for statehood, I expect people to at least support us and get out there for protests and such,” said Cheh.


Tom agreed, adding his thoughts: “It’s the nation’s capital and it’s the most un-American place in America. It’s pretty sickening.”


Everyone else: SQUAD GOALS

Tom Sherwood: “I don’t smile on command. I’m not a dog.”


Tom’s son, Peyton Sherwood, got his D.C. flag tattoo in 2005 when he was 27. He was moving out of D.C. for a bartending job at Duffy’s Love Shack in St. Thomas, so he sold his possessions and got the tattoo to “take a piece of home with me.” Tom, however, joked that he got it to attract girls.

Ten years later…

Tom: “Peyton, do you have my phone? I want to take a selfie and tweet it.”


Closing argument: Don’t ever let negative stereotypes of D.C. get you down.

As the great Tom Sherwood says, “Local Washington is only as good as the people active in it.”



Read: The day Michael Martinez found out Kojo Nnamdi was getting a tattoo

Read: Why did Nick donate $3,000 to public radio?

All photos by Ruth Tam