Steve Wilkos was a Marine, then a Chicago cop and then a bouncer on The Jerry Springer Show. Now he has his own hit talk show, which is coming up on its 1,000th episode. Wilkos joined HuffPost Live to discuss his experiences as a TV host, and while he runs into many colorful characters, he admitted that one type of guest is his least favorite to encounter.
"I'm a father of two small children, and when we do stories where people have done really bad things to children--burn them with cigarettes, let their boyfriends beat their children up and stuff like that, those are things that--I feel for those kids," Wilkos explained to host Ricky Camilleri.
"What's real scary is sometimes, you get these parents on my show and you can't help them. And they don't want to be helped, and they're just bad people. And you think that 'my god, they're going to go home and that kid's got to live with this person.' That's the thing that's hard for me sometimes."
Wilkos responded candidly to the notion that talk shows exploit guests for ratings. "You're doing a TV show for entertainment and you want ratings, right? You can't have two people sitting like a bump on a log -- people are not going to tune in, so you better do a show that's entertaining that people are going to watch," he said. "Do we want to help people with the show? Yes. But the only way I'm ever going to be able to help people is if the show is entertaining and people tune in."
He continued, "We don't search out people, we're not calling like, 'hey you want to come on The Steve Wilkos Show?' People call us. 'Hey, I want to come on, I want a lie detector test or I want this person', you know."
"So are we exploiting them for ratings? Yes. Are we exploiting them as human beings just to exploit them? No."