during the 1990s, Steve Wilkos, a former marine turned police officer, first became famous moonlighting as a security guard (later head of security) on the Jerry Springer talk show, during its run of broadcasting out of WMAQ-TV-5 studios in Chicago, Il. By the late 2000's, Wilkos apparently left his police job to immerse himself fully in the talk show world, as the "Springer" show spun off Steve into his own self-named talk show.
Wilkos' show (first taping in Chicago, but along with the Springer show it now tapes in Stamford, Conn.) frequently takes on human-interest stories focusing criminal behavior with a domestic context, involving parents, grandparents, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, and/or children, in some way or another. Physical and/or sexual abuse is a recurring topic, as are teen runaways, infidelity, and more.
Tall, athletic with a bald pate, Wilkos strikes an intimidating figure; he will angrily yell at a guest if he feels that he or she is being outrageous or disgusting in some manner. Especially when confronting alleged abusers, he will throw or kick a guest's chair to the side, demanding that they stand up while talking to him. If Wilkos is particularly enraged, he will order a guest off his stage, (some of his common epithets used are "dirtbag" and "sleazebag", and he occasionally curses) Wilkos's neutrality on a subject usually doesn't last very long. When the studio audience agrees with the host on a particular point, they will typically shout out "Steve!" in unison.
Wilkos, likely from his military and policeman background, tends to be a stickler for law-and-order behavior-- for example, he is strongly anti-illegal drugs, and a strong advocate of calling the police for concerns about abuse or neglect.
Sometimes, segments of the show will be taped elsewhere than the Stamford studio. Wilkos has filmed segments of the show in prisons, and on city streets, particularly when confronting issues regarding runaways and the homeless.
In the course of trying to arrive at some resolution for a guest's problem, sometimes, lie detector services are used; also, at the end of a show's taping, Wilkos will sometimes offer some professional counseling services arranged by the show's staff; for adult alleged victims of abuse, he has sometimes offered help getting an apartment. In the case of incorrigible children, he has sometimes put them through a 'scared-straight' program at a jail (usually in the county of the family's residence).
Overall, Wilkos's persona is a no-nonsense, straight-talking tough guy on the side of good. This isn't the cautious intellectual Phil Donohue, the 'muckraking journalist' style of Geraldo Rivera, or the faux-befuddled Jerry Springer. Wilkos's show will likely not be winning any awards, now or ever (unless it's of the ironic-driven sort, like the Razzies). Still, he apparently is giving his viewers the type of show that they want-- or will accept.
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