Political and broadcasting friends will celebrate the life of Jerry Springer — the former politician, WLWT-TV anchor and TV host — at Cincinnati’s Memorial Hall on June 9.
The event — originally announced for May 16 — was rescheduled within hours Tuesday for early June “based on the large interest of people from many locations, as well as the accompanying planning details,” says Jene Galvin, Springer’s longtime friend, podcast and radio partner and family spokesman.
Springer died April 27 in his suburban Chicago home from pancreatic cancer. He was 79.
The life celebration will be held in Cincinnati, where Springer started his political and broadcasting careers. He spent most of 25 years here (1968-93) as a Cincinnati City Council member, mayor and politician; WLWT-TV news commentator and anchor; and syndicated talk show host. Springer met his wife, Mickey, here and their daughter, Katie, was born here.
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“I cannot think about my life or talk about my life without talking about Cincinnati and the role Channel 5 played. First of all, Channel 5 gave me my career … I mean, Cincinnati is my life,” Springer said while visiting WLWT-TV in February, weeks after its 75th anniversary.
Plans for the May 16 event had included remarks by Springer’s daughter Katie, his sister, Galvin and a rabbi, Galvin had said Tuesday morning. Additional speakers may be added to “represent the different elements of his life,” Galvin said.
Videos highlights will be shown of his Cincinnati political and broadcast careers, and his national television shows and appearances, Galvin says. The program will end with some of Springer’s favorite folk songs, including “This Land Is Your Land” and “Down By The Riverside.”
The June 9 event will be free and open to the public, but a ticket will be required for admission, Galvin says.
“We’re not just throwing the doors open. We’re trying to have reasonable control over access to the service,” Galvin said. Ticket distribution information will be released later, he said.
COMMENTARY: The world knew one Jerry Springer; Cincinnati knew another
Gerald Norman Springer was born into a Jewish family in London on Feb. 13, 1944, and raised in New York City. After earning a law degree in 1968 from Northwestern University, he moved to Cincinnati where he started his political career by campaigning for lowering the voting age to 19 and running for Congress in 1970. The charismatic liberal connected with Cincinnati’s largely German Catholic population, which elected him to city council (1971-74; 1975-81). He was appointed mayor for a year after receiving the largest plurality in city council history in 1977.
After losing to Richard Celeste in the 1982 Democratic primary for governor, Springer started doing a nightly 11 p.m. commentary on NBC affiliate WLWT-TV. He was elevated to main news co-anchor with Norma Rashid in 1984, and they became the No. 1 team three years later.
At the peak of his popularity, the “Jerry Springer” daytime talk show was launched in 1991. It moved to Chicago in 1992, and continued in production until 2018.
Despite his TV success — including beating Oprah Winfrey for No. 1 in the daytime ratings in 1998 and appearing on Dancing with the Stars in 2006 — Springer regularly returned to Cincinnati to test the political waters about possibly returning to politics; visit friends; generously support various charities and non-profit efforts; and do a national serious radio talk show from WCKY-AM (2005-06) and a podcast.
“Cincinnati is in my blood. I can’t stay away. I’m here at least once a month and I was coming here every two weeks when I was doing the podcast,” Springer said while visiting WLWT-TV in February, when in town for a fund-raiser at the Hard Rock Casino.
“Wherever I travel, people identify me as Cincinnati … It’s in my blood. It really is. I’m not trying to be corny about it. I love this place, I love this station, I owe it everything,” he said.