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Chriss Scherer Scherer has been the editor of Radio magazine since 1997. His experience in radio includes work as chief engineer at stations in Cleveland (WMMS-FM, WHK-AM, WZJM-FM, WJMO-AM...more

The Business of Business Casual

You probably don’t wear a tie to work. Or a suit. That’s ok. The world has become a more casual place.

I’m sure you’ve seen photos of people working at a transmitter site or in a studio wearing suits while carefully taking hourly readings or attentively adjusting an audio program level. It seems funny that things were so formal then.

My office is officially business casual attire. Yours probably is as well. But do you adhere to the business element or simply the casual? Too often, it’s the casual.

I have always focused on encouraging broadcast and media engineers to work to improve themselves and their professional images. An easy place to start is with personal dress. No, ties aren’t needed — but sometimes they are appropriate.

Early in my career, I worked with an engineer who kept a tie in his desk drawer. I asked him why. This was the time when the telephone company made regular visits to the station because everything we did involved leased lines from a single source. When a telephone company installer would arrive, the engineer would be sure to have the tie on. Why? Because installers did not wear ties, but their supervisors did. By wearing a tie, the engineer immediately put himself in a position of authority with the installer. This was not an effort to put the installer down, but rather to ensure the engineer had authority.

There was a mind trick there. And while some may think it was evil tactic, the truth is that it worked.

The same principal can be applied today. While it’s easy to get into a routine to wear casual clothes every day, it’s just as easy to select clothes that look good and are still practical when you have to climb up to the roof. On days when you know you’ll be burying radials in the mud, wear the appropriate clothes. But on days when you expect to be working on the budget, dress for business.

It’s a good idea to have a change of clothes on hand for the appropriate need. I know one engineer who wears a tie every day. He also keeps a pair of disposable coveralls on hand in case he expects to get dirty.

If you dress like a beach bum you’ll likely be treated like one.

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