For the past year or so, I’ve been warning my male anchor clients to get ready to lose the tie. Now, it has finally happened. The New York Times reports that KNBC news anchor David Ushery is going tie-less on his weekend broadcast as a way of attracting viewers who have drifted away to other media. The Times goes on about how this transition will be difficult for men of a certain generation. Nonsense. Casual attire now is the prevailing custom in most US businesses and TV news was slow to change, at least on the male side. It’s time.
Here in Los Angeles, it’s not unusual to see female news readers in attire that looks more like lingerie. Even Megyn Kelly, the “it” gal of the moment on the Fox News Channel, regularly bares her arms and a lot more. Even in the heartland or the deep south, figure-flattering knit tops have become a standard alternative to a business suit for female talent. However, the sleek, contemporary look for women appears completely mismatched when paired with a man in a suit that Don Draper might wear on Mad Men.
Then there’s the temperature factor. When I was hosting on the network that eventually became MSNBC, our boss Roger Ailes, preferred a meat-locker temperature in the studio. He said the freezing air helped keep the guests from falling asleep under the toasty lights, it also kept Roger comfortable in his wool suit. (His interview program aired right after the show I did with Chris Matthews on America’s Talking). Female hosts like me, who even had lights pointed at our exposed legs, just had to freeze and bear it. On KTLA, Hal Fishman kept the studio so cold that my predecessor, Jan Carl, had to keep a portable heater under the desk. During my tenure on KTLA News at Ten, I’d shiver through the show until I couldn’t even feel my legs anymore, and then run to my car and turn the heater up. Allowing the men to lose the multi-layer business suit means that studios can be a more tolerable atmosphere for everyone.
So, guys, get ready to take the tie off. And get to the gym ASAP. Because soon you’ll be losing the jacket, too. Put on a fitted polo shirt and let us see your guns. As we move into the delivery of news on mobile multimedia platforms, people want to see someone they’d meet at Starbucks for a coffee, not a guy in a throwback business suit announcing the headlines from the mountain top.
Judging from the picture at the top of this post, Mr. Ushery could still use some advice on appearance. The black-white contrast is a bit stark and not flattering to a person of color. The business suit may be about to go the way of the dinosaur, but there are still rules for what looks good on camera. You want to keep your credibility while becoming more casual, comfortable and connected to the viewrs.
To learn how to make your talent more effective when presenting the news in multimedia, please visit my web site, http://www.terryanzur.com/
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