Steve Wilkos Takes 5 With The U
There's one place we know Steve Wilkos will be whenever he is back in Chicago, and that place is Wrigley Field. We had the chance to Take 5 with Steve while he was in studio last week to see where else he visits when he's back in his hometown, as well as his predictions for the Cubs 2016 season.
The U: Let’s begin with the success of your show, The Steve Wilkos Show – can you put into perspective what it means for you to conclude your ninth season and enter your tenth season?
SW: I’m very happy with the success of the show. Being on air for nine years, it’s a long time of TV. If you look over even the last couple years of people who came out with shows, much bigger name recognition than I’ve ever had – Jeff Probst, Ricki Lake, Katie Couric, Queen Latifah – that had shows that didn’t make it. For a Chicago cop to stand here for nine years, going into his tenth year, it’s a great deal of satisfaction for me.
The U: How does it feel for you to be back in Chicago? A place where you have deep roots – a place where it all started for you.
SW: Well, coming back to Chicago is always special for me. I grew up in Chicago, right down the street from Lane Tech. My whole life was here for the first 45 years of my life. To come back – even going to a Cubs game – when I was a kid, I used to flip up seats after games to get a free pass, so the sweepers would come through. Just coming back where all my friends are still at. I used to be a police officer in Chicago, so I’m very intimate with the city – I know all the ins and outs. Yesterday, I was at NBC Tower where we used to film The Jerry Springer Show and my show for a few years. It’s always great to come back to Chicago, being here at The U is always great. This is my home, even though I live somewhere else, it always will be.
The U: If you have a Chicago ‘Must Do Checklist’ – tell us the top three things you have to cross off when you’re back in town.
SW: Well, when I get back, there are a few things I have to do. First of all, if it’s Cubs season and the Cubs are playing, I have to go to a Cubs game, which I’m doing today with my son. I also try to hit Hero’s Submarine Sandwiches at Addison and Western. Even my daughter now, she’s like, “Dad, that’s the greatest sandwich I’ve ever had! Can we go there?” So, we’ll definitely hit that. I love Pete’s Pizza on Western Avenue. They’re all places in my old neighborhood. I have to get Pete’s Pizza while I’m back in town. There are a few things: places I want to eat, Cubs games, seeing friends. Going to a Cubs game might knock a lot of that off because a lot of my friends go too; so I get to see everybody, get to enjoy the Cubs, and go down the street to my old neighborhood and eat great.
The U: As a Cubs fan – what did last season’s run mean to you and what are you looking forward to the most this season?
SW: I’ve been a Cubs fan my whole life. Like I said, when I was a little kid I used to flip up seats at Wrigley Field, so I’m totally invested into the Cubs. This is special for me because I think this is the first time of my life where the Cubs are actually doing it right. I think Theo Epstein has done a wonderful job just tearing everything down and building it up the way it’s supposed to be. Like I said, there are teams of the past where the Cubs have done well, but I didn’t like some of the players – I didn’t like the attitude. This year, you’ve got to love everything about the Cubs. You’ve got to love Joe Madden. You’ve got to love Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta – what an unbelievable story – so it’s exciting that the Cubs ought to have the best record in baseball. Last year was a magical run. I really thought that they were going to build up to this year. So for the run they had last year, it’s great because I think they gained a lot of experience. I really believe, and I don’t want to set myself up for heartbreak, but I really do believe this is going to be the Cubs’ year and at the very least, they’re going to get to the World Series.
The U: If you had Tom Ricketts/Theo Epstein’s ear for five minutes, what would you tell them? Anything you would change or improve?
SW: Well, to Theo, the only thing I would say is – really, I think Ricketts has done a wonderful job improving the stadium. I love the new scoreboards. You know, how people “hate change,” I kind of embrace it with Wrigley Field. As beautiful as it is, I tell people it’s not a great place to sit and watch a game. It used to be. I think Tom Ricketts has done a wonderful job with the stadium. It’s getting better and better all the time. But Theo Epstein, to really make this a team that could win the World Series, I would tell him to go out and get one more stud-starting pitcher. I think that’s all the Cubs need is one more big guy. And then between Lester and Arrieta, even Hamels, I think they really have a great rotation, but I would like to see one more really good stud pitcher in there.
Watch The Steve Wilkos Show, weekdays at 10 AM on The U and weekdays at 5 PM on The U Too!