It was a Saturday night, years ago and I was aimlessly watching TV in the family room when Stef walked in. The set was tuned to C-SPAN.
C-SPAN is to middle school girls what kryptonite is to Superman. I expected her to immediately leave. She did not.
On the screen, a man was in the middle of a lecture to an auditorium full of college students. C-SPAN’s search engine tells me this clip doesn’t exist, but I saw it. Stef did too. The lecturer was Jerry Springer.
She watched in total amazement.
It wasn’t something we talked about, but obviously Stef had seen some of Springer’s low rent, daytime circus on TV. This was, however, a very different Springer. She was confused.
He was smart. He was well spoken. His words were well thought out and elegantly chosen.
I don’t remember her exact words, but “why” is a reasonable summary of her question to me. Why is someone like this doing something like that?
I tried to explain only someone like Jerry could do what he did. It was too demanding for a lightweight. The content might have been awful, but the execution was masterful, and that was the show’s real strength.
Even then, I knew he had been in politics. He had been mayor of Cincinnati and a highly rated, and well loved, local TV anchor.
He had also been linked to a prostitute across the Ohio River in Covington, Kentucky. God love him – Jerry paid by check!
This Saturday, while listening to my shower radio, I heard the whole story. It was on NPR’s, “This American Life.” Like his C-SPAN appearance, this was an unexpected find.
Jerry Springer’s story is stranger than fiction. How could it be otherwise? Still, whatever you expect, there’s more… a lot more. He is everything good and everything awful, with little in the middle.
This time, as opposed to C-SPAN, the aircheck does exist¹. If all you know is what you’ve seen (I know you’ve seen his show – don’t deny it) this is must listening.
¹ – The Springer story starts around 4:00 in.