Don’t expect thrown chairs or fistfights when Jerry Springer speaks on campus tonight. Instead of focusing on infidelity, incest and sexual banter, the veteran talk show host and former mayor of Cincinnati will share his perspectives of media, politics and society.
“It’s going to be different,” said Mike Dolinger, program coordinator for the University Lecture Series, which is sponsoring the event. “Be ready to be surprised.”
Although Springer does plan to talk about his experiences with The Jerry Springer Show, Dancing with the Stars and America’s Got Talent, they will not be at the center of his discussion.
“I will be talking about the show and the derivation of the show, but mostly it will be a political talk,” Springer said. “What’s going on in the political environment today, what kind of change is really needed, ways we can affect it, and also the effect that media has on our culture.”
Since entering public life in 1971 as a city council member in Cincinnati, Springer has maintained an active and often controversial role in both media and politics.
The Jerry Springer Show debuted in 1991, and was at first politically oriented with guests like Sally Jessy Raphael and Jesse Jackson. Low ratings led to a drastic change in the show’s format, turning it into the infamous spectacle it is today.
Regardless of the show’s frequently negative press and accusations of producers staging guests and their scuffles, Springer manages to stay afloat amid the controversy with his syndicated show now in its 17th season.
“What he portrays on his show and the people that he finds for his show are controversial in the fact that nobody wants to admit that there are people out there like that, but there are,” Dolinger said. “That’s what a lot of his talk is going to be about – how media portrays society and how society portrays media at the same time.”
Even though his own college days were during the early ’60s, Springer, 63, feels that he is still relevant to today’s youth.
“I think our show has always been very contemporary,” Springer said. “I think one of the reasons it’s been so popular on television and become a part of pop culture is because of college kids. I admit most of our show is tongue-in-cheek and we deal with crazy, but we also deal with opening up social issues, which is not done on traditional television.”
As an outspoken Democrat, Springer was a proponent of truth during his political career. As a talk show host, Springer was one of the first to feature gay and transgendered people on a television show. He is liberal and proud of it.
“I admit our show is probably too liberal for a lot of Americans, but it has its place on television, and I’m not going to back off my liberalism,” he said.