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Credit: Kevin Statham

The multi-talented Springer guest hosting a recent The Price Is Right taping in Vancouver

The longtime host of the infamous Jerry Springer Show opens up about his diverse relationship with the media industry

In his earlier life on television, Jerry Springer gained acclaim as the evening news anchor on Cincinnati’s NBC affiliate, WLWT. Taking the station’s newscasts to the top of the ratings after just two years at the helm, he quickly became the city’s Number One news anchor, garnering ten local Emmy Awards in the process. But that would pale in comparison to what the 68 year old would become most associated with as host of his own outrageous talk program; a concept that was proposed to him despite his initial ambivalence.

The Creation of The Jerry Springer Show

“The company (Multimedia) that owned the station also owned talk shows like Phil Donahue and Sally Jessy Raphael,” Springer tells me. “One day the CEO took me to lunch and said that Phil was getting close to retirement and they were planning to start a new talk show and wanted me to host it.

I was assigned to it and really had no interest. I was enjoying doing the news and they said I could do both, so I would get up in the morning and fly to Chicago to tape the show and then fly back to Cincinnati to do the news every night.

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Unprecedented Success

I did that for about two years and that got exhausting so I figured since I had done the news, I’d put my energies into the talk show and then it took off. Who would have known? It was pure luck – the show was crazy.”

Crazy indeed; and durable! Debuting in 1991, The Jerry Springer Show started as a politically-oriented daily talk show that routinely tackled social issues of the day. It soon became known for its outrageous subject matter, often drawing howls of outrage from viewers and critics alike, many assailing the program as being nothing more than trash. TV Guide even voted it as the ‘Worst TV Show Ever.”

The Show's Unscripted Format

Now in its 21st year, the program endures and Springer enters the studio to tape each episode with little more than a list of that show’s guests. “I never have any idea what the show is about – I’m not involved in that at all,” he says.

“When I go out onstage they hand me a card and all the card has on it are the names of the guests because I haven’t met them. My job then is to ask questions that you would ask sitting at home and then make some jokes.”

Passion Versus Profession

Despite a career that has seen him go from news anchor to TV host to Dancing with the Stars contestant, there remains one true passion the former Cincinnati Mayor’s professional life: politics.

“That’s what I take seriously,” says Springer. “Show business is how I make my living - that’s my occupation but it’s not my religion and I always keep it separate. I go to work like everybody else but my job happens to be an entertainer. On my own time it’s not what I think about. If I’m not with my family, I spend most of my time doing political stuff.”