The Steve Wilkos Show was born from the seedy belly of The Jerry Springer Show. Much like its parent, the daytime program focuses on tabloid topics, like adultery, teenage pregnancy, maternity claims and other controversial and volatile subjects.
Dissimilar to Springer, Wilkos takes on slightly more serious fare. Or at least presents the subjects in a slightly more serious manner. Where Springer looks for the absurdity and flamboyancy of a topic, Wilkos goes for a more visceral feeling. This is closer to some of the earlier shows in Springer's run and is more akin to the early days of tabloid talk shows, like Donahue and Geraldo. In those days, talk shows were known for melodramatic storylines and prurient topics. The shows became so steeped in the subject matter, most daytime programs were considered "Trash TV."
This style comes out of Wilkos personality and television character. He was known on Springer as the Head of Security for the show. As Head of Security, he was known for being tough on guests accused of certain crimes or being tough when guests got out of control.
Wilkos is even known for making certain guests stand while being interviewed, rather than sit in the chairs provided on the show's set. These guests are often accused of or have committed heinous crimes. Wilkos reasons that the guests didn't make their victims comfortable, so they shouldn't be comfortable on his show. And when a guest really outrages Wilkos, he will often toss the chairs across the set.
In later seasons, when host Jerry Springer would take breaks or get involved with side projects, Wilkos would act as substitute host. Wilkos' popularity grew and audiences continued to tune in to see him.
His popularity led Springer and others to suggest a spin-off show for the new host, which led to his self-titled program.
Steve Wilkos Biography
Wilkos, born March 9, 1964, grew up Chicago and graduated from Lane Technical High School in 1982. Right out of high school, Wilkos joined the United States Marine Corps. and served for seven years.
After departing the Corps., Wilkos joined the Chicago Police Department. It's there he met his wife, Rachelle, a co-producer of The Steve Wilkos Show. At the time, Rachelle was a producer on Springer, quickly moving up the ranks. When she became supervising producer in 1996, Springer's audience grew 160 percent and nearly tied The Oprah Winfrey Show as the No. 1 daytime talk show in syndication.
Wilkos met Jerry Springer while Springer was taping in Chicago in 1994. The show was in need of extra security and hired local off-duty police officers to help. Wilkos signed on, later becoming a regular part-time member of Springer's security detail. He left the force to join the show in 2001.
Beyond hosting his popular talk show, Wilkos has also starred as a professional wrestler with the Maryland Championship Wrestling league. He has also made cameo appearances in shows like The Simpsons and, playing himself, in the hit movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
He is also the national spokesman for USA CARES, a charitable organization dedicated to providing financial guidance and support to post Sept. 11th active duty U.S. military service personnel, veterans and their families.
Wilkos' show originally taped in Chicago, alongside The Jerry Springer Show, until both programs moved to Stamford, Conn., in 2009. The show's contract runs through 2014.