Daytime TV host and former Cincinnati Mayor Jerry Springer says he'll decide soon whether to leave television and return to Ohio politics.
Springer, 73, attended a Cleveland union rally on Labor Day, fueling speculation that he's testing the waters to become a Democratic candidate for Ohio governor in 2018. He's also been doing focus groups and appearing at Democratic fundraisers, reported Jo Ingles of Ohio Public Radio on Sept. 1.
The 27th season of the nationally syndicated daytime "Jerry Springer Show," starts Sept. 11. It was No. 1 on TV Guide’s list of the "Worst Shows In The History Of Television” in 2002. He has said many times that he would not run for office while the daytime tabloid TV show was on the air.
"I've got to make a decision soon," Springer said Tuesday after recording his weekly Jerry Springer podcast at the Folk School Coffee Parlor in Ludlow, Ky.
In the past month, the pressure has intensified for him to return to Ohio politics, he says. Springer indicated that he was being encouraged to run for a variety of offices, not just the governor's spot on the ticket in 2018. (In June, Howard Wilkinson said Springer was being urged to challenge U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup.)
Springer says his TV contract has been renewed on a "year to year" basis for several years. Deadline.com had reported in 2014 that NBCUniversal Domestic Television Distribution had sold "Springer" through the 2017-18 TV season, along with "Maury" (Povich) and the "Steve Wilkos Show."
If Springer is going to pull the plug on his TV career, NBCUniversal executives would want to know soon so they could develop another show to pitch TV stations at the annual January meeting of the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE), the marketplace for syndicated shows.
Springer, a progressive Democrat with a self-effacing sense of humor, won regional Emmy Awards for his nightly WLWT-TV news commentaries. University of Akron political scientist John Green told Ingles that Springer's "name recognition and his finances would put him in a good spot" if he returned to politics.
Springer last ran for office in the 1982 Democratic primary for Ohio governor, after serving about 10 years on Cincinnati City Council, including a term as mayor.
He left politics to join the WLWT-TV news team as a nightly commentator in fall of 1982, and was promoted to main anchor in 1984. His 11 p.m. newscast with Norma Rashid was No. 1 in the ratings from 1987 to 1991, when his daytime talk show premiered from WLWT-TV.
After the talk show moved to Chicago's WMAQ-TV in fall of 1992, he commuted daily to Cincinnati so he could anchor Channel 5 newscasts and read his nightly commentary. He left WLWT-TV in early 1993, after his newscast fell to third place, to devote full-time to his talk show.
He has parlayed his daytime TV fame into competing on "Dancing With The Stars," hosting "America's Got Talent" and the "Baggage" game show, and guest appearances on "Married…. With Children," "Roseanne," "The X-Files" and "The Simpsons." His trashy TV series also has inspired an opera.
Springer now tapes his talk show in Stamford, CT. He does three shows on Monday and two shows on Tuesday, then flies to Northern Kentucky to record his weekly podcast with longtime friend Jene Galvin and Megan Hils.
Each podcast has some "tales, tunes and tomfoolery" – a humorous interview or story, a serious commentary by Springer read from notes scrawled on a yellow legal pad, and a musical guest. On Tuesday, Springer discussed the history of American protest movements between a chat with pro wrestler Dan "The Progressive Liberal" Richards and folk songs by Tommy Womack.
Near the end of the show, Springer caught everyone's attention when he said: "And so I'm announcing today – that I'm feeling better than yesterday."
Another announcement should be coming by the end of the month.
TV or not TV, that is the question.