Jerry Spring, the former politician turned talk show host who basically created the best and worst television of all time, has died aged 79.
For anyone who grew up in the ’90s and early ’00s, The Jerry Springer Show was the go-to television show whenever you decided your little sniffle was too much to take to school that day. Famous for its barrel-scraping tactics that pitted family members, lovers, friends and everyone in between against each other, The Jerry Springer Show set both a low and high bar for daytime entertainment.
It was, literally, car crash television that preyed on the worst of human emotions: greed, paranoia and jealousy. It was also as addictive as sugar coated crack. The following day returning to school was like being a celebrity yourself, with news of what went down on the stage. How many chairs were thrown. How many shoes? Who was the father?!
Yes, it was exploitative. Yes, it perhaps contributed to a generation’s deep cynicism and utter lack of empathy. It also provided an insight into a strata of American culture and class that had, until Springer, been relatively overlooked and unseen.
Was it moral? No. But it made us realise that not everything was an episode of 90210.
According to reports, Spring died of pancreatic cancer. But true to form, the sensationalist media master and journalist kept his condition under tight wraps but allegedly his symptoms progressed rapidly in his final week. Until a month ago, Springer had been hosting a folk music segment on a local Cincinnati radio show.
Speaking on behalf of his family, close friend Jene Galvin said “Jerry’s ability to connect with people was at the heart of his success in everything he tried whether that was politics, broadcasting or just joking with people on the street who wanted a photo or a word.”
Springer is survived by his daughter, Katie, and ex-wife Micki Velton.