Local Journalist Michael Monks Wants to Be Trusted, So He Dresses the Part

The Editor and Publisher of River City News and host of Cincinnati Edition at WVXU keeps his look professional.

Name: Michael Monks
Style: Dressed to impress

Photograph by Marlene Rounds

You’re very involved in the local journalism industry. How does that influence your style?

I don’t want to throw shade at my fellow journalists, but I don’t think we are known for our sartorial proclivities. But for me, it’s been different; I’ve always enjoyed clothes. When I first started working on my own at the River City News, I looked like somebody who was working on their own—you know, I looked like a slob. And when the business became more professionalized, I realized I needed to be more professionalized, and so that was probably the first time style was a choice, beyond fashion, that it was strategy.

Tell me more about this.

If I’m coming at someone with a promise that I’m writing about what I just witnessed, there is a better chance they’ll trust me more if I look like somebody worth trusting. So that’s something I take into consideration. My strategy is to dress for what I want to accomplish that day. If I need to impress or to interest, those are things I keep in mind when I put on my clothes.

Has that changed now that you’re on the radio and we’re in the midst of this global pandemic?

I was a TV news producer working at Channel 19 for most of the 2000s. And I got placed in a time slot of death. It was Saturday night, and Saturday nights, I learned very quickly, are different than weeknights: People wear jeans and T-shirts, looking like hell. But during the week, I always dressed nicely with a tie and a sweater. I maintained that and found I got more accomplished that way. During this period I’ve been fortunate to keep both of my jobs (at WVXU radio and River City News), so I have a reason to get up every day, and I feel like just dressing for work makes me want to work.

So no sweatpants?

I like sweatpants that are interesting. I don’t want a slovenly pair of sweatpants. I just bought some; I shop a lot. They look kind of vintage, but I feel very comfortable wearing those types of sweats out. You know, I wouldn’t wear them to a cocktail lounge, but I would go shopping in them and not feel like I’m dressed down.

Are there any clothing items you’re really into?

Cardigan sweaters are my favorites. I probably own 42.

Has any one person influenced your style?

I am like basic off-the rack-department store and I’m easily taken in by a really nice window display or mannequin. So if those people are doing their jobs well, I’m exactly the guy they’re trying to get to come in.

Why is personal style important to you?

I think the way you dress shapes your attitude, and it’s such an easy way to get in the right mood for whatever you have to accomplish. I love the way a pair of dress shoes sounds when you’re walking across the floor—you know that clip-clop sound. I feel a little bit of motivation after putting on my dress shoes and I hear them on the floor of my apartment. I think, I’m gonna get some business done today in these shoes.

Any style tips for others?

Dress comfortably and be ready to take some risk. There are a few things guys should add in a wardrobe that are worth spending a little bit of extra money. You need to have one really awesome pair of jeans, one great pair of dressy sneakers, and I wish more guys wore wristwatches.

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