'America's Got Talent' Hires Howard Stern as its Newest Judge

In February, the shock jock will take over the judging-panel seat left open by Piers Morgan on the NBC talent competition

America's Got Talent has got a new judge, and it's none other than radio shock jock, Howard Stern. The self-professed King of All Media announced the news during his SiriusXM radio show this morning. "I take judging very seriously," said Stern. "In order to up my credibility, I will wear a suit."

Wow, a suit? Maybe this purveyor of off-color jokes and lewd commentary is cleaning up his act! Or maybe, in the wake of Piers Morgan's defection to CNN, NBC's hit reality competition is going in an edgier direction.

That would actually be a welcome change for the show, which has been on the air for six seasons now. Sure, it still commands a high viewership (averaging 12 million viewers per episode), and the remaining judges, Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel, are well liked. But Stern could certainly add some bite to the proceedings. He's not one to suffer fools, as anyone who's listened to his radio show will attest.

And let's be honest, some of the contestants on this show have a huge talent for seeking out fame and grabbing the spotlight -- but a less robust supply of actual entertainment value. Sure, true talent always ends up taking over on that stage, whether its singing, dancing, ventriloquy, or otherwise. But Mandel and Osbourne also tend to be a bit too kind to the spotlight hoggers who are just plain bad. It's hard to imagine Stern going easy on anybody.

Not only that, Stern has legions of fans who might not necessarily watch America's Got Talent. Now they have reason to tune in. And as long as Stern behaves himself, the current viewership won't have reason to fall off. The show's producers must feel strongly about this, as they've agreed to move the entire production to New York City, where Stern is based. (He will continue to host his radio show.) And last month, while the deal was being hammered out, The Wall Street Journal reported that Stern "would earn about $15 million a year."

Is he worth it? Even Morgan himself seems to think so. He applauded the hiring today, tweeting, "Congrats to @HowardStern on landing my #AmericasGotTalent judging gig - he'll be outrageous, hilarious, dangerous & brilliant. Can't wait."

He won't have to wait long. Stern will begin taping the series in February.

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