Ringmaster Balances 'Springer,' 'Wilkos' in the Daytime CircusExec producer and wife of Steve Wilkos juggles personal, professional lives 3/19/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern
There are probably plenty of married couples that can
say they ended their marriages on The Jerry Springer
Show. Rachelle Wilkos, however, may be the only
woman who actually started her marriage on the show.
And yet, for Wilkos, meeting future
husband Steve Wilkos didn’t feel like
anything out of the ordinary. Rachelle
Consiglio was a producer on Springer,
and Steve was known then to fans as
the show’s large, intimidating security
guard. (Now, of course, he is best
known as the large, intimidating host of
The Steve Wilkos Show.) Through working
together daily, the pair developed
a friendship and eventually a relationship
(they married in 2000).
How does one manage to keep a
marriage going while spending 24
hours a day together—with many of
those hours among quarreling couples?
“We don’t know anything different,”
says Rachelle Wilkos.
Rachelle joined Springer in 1995, the
show’s fourth year on the air, just after
creator Burt Dubrow departed and
Richard Dominick took the reins as
executive producer. The years that followed
saw Wilkos rise rapidly as coordinating,
supervising, coexecutive and,
eventually, executive producer—a position
to which she was named in September
2008, the same year she also
took on the title of EP at Steve Wilkos.
Having the responsibility of managing
both talk shows—with one still
being, arguably, the most iconic talk
show in daytime—would make it
seem as if Wilkos had always longed
for a producing career. But Wilkos
grew up wanting to “be Barbara Walters,”
she says, and pursued a degree
in journalism/radio and TV at Wayne
State University in Michigan. She applied
for a news internship at WXYZ Detroit, but they were—fatefully, as it
turns out—full. Instead, Wilkos signed
on for a programming internship with
a local Detroit show
entitled Kelly and
Company (later Company).
That is where,
she says, she “found
But Wilkos does
not feed off of the
outrageous and controversial
in which Jerry
Springer and, to a
somewhat lesser degree,
operate, and that is
not what drives her
desire to remain as
EP of these very demanding, and different,
shows. Many would balk at the
stress of executive producing a show
like Springer, and a separate show starring
her husband, yet she thrives on it.
“I love my hosts. I go to work every
day and I still find it to be a challenge
and fun,” she says. “I love the people I
work with, and I feel like I’ve been incredibly
fortunate to be on this side.”
Wilkos has worked with Springer,
who calls his show a “circus,” for more
than 17 years. After 21 seasons on the
air, the series still manages to pull its
weight among newer daytime entrants.
Springer finished the 2010-11 season
up 7% in household ratings and total
viewers—the second straight year the
show delivered year-to-year growth,
no small feat for an aging program.
Steve Wilkos left Springer in 2006,
and a year later, The Steve Wilkos Show
launched with former Springer executive
producer Dominick at the helm.
As the host’s wife—and a supervising
producer as well—Rachelle Wilkos
“could not be any more invested in
seeing that show succeed,” she says.
“I was going to do
whatever I needed
to make sure that it
[did],” she says.
And Wilkos did
just that—of! cially—
once she took over as
EP in 2008. The first
year, getting the show
off the ground was “a
blur,” with the producer
until 3 a.m.
Having two young
children made it even
more difficult but, as
Wilkos says, “The
show not working was not an option.”
“When she took over, she really
let me be me, and who I am,” Steve
Wilkos says. “It’s made the show much
easier for me to do.”
Rachelle has, of course, cultivated
deep relationships with her hosts. Her
loyalty and dedication to both shows
gives her the capability to juggle them
both without dropping a thing.
“This show is not for everybody, and
yet she makes it happen every day,”
Springer says. “The fact that she can
pull it off every day is just phenomenal.
There’s no way I could do the
show if she wasn’t here.”