Here comes the judge: Howard Stern on ‘AGT’

Howard Stern on NBC? Yes, it’s happening.

By ADAM BUCKMAN

NEW YORK, Dec. 15, 2011 — NBC finally made it official Thursday morning: Howard Stern’s been hired as the third judge on “America’s Got Talent,” replacing the departed Piers Morgan.  Stern will be seen on the show starting next summer.

There are likely many people who are scratching their heads over this hire, people who don’t see how on earth Howard Stern, the notorious radio personality whose conversations with guests on his Sirius XM radio show are often X-rated, will now be seen on one of our biggest TV networks in a show that, if nothing else, is suitable for the whole family.

Sure, on the face of it, he doesn’t seem compatible with this show at all.  But, in fact, he’s a great choice.  Here’s why and how it happened:

1) Stern’s adaptable: One thing many people other than his most ardent fans fail to realize — Howard Stern is a very gifted broadcaster.  Whether you enjoy the subject matter of his conversations on the radio or not, he is still one of the best there is at talking, which, believe it or not, is a skill that only a few have.  And among his skills is this: Putting the potty talk on hold when it’s necessary to do so — on late-night shows, for example, and also when he used to voice commercials for sponsors of his radio show; those commercials were second-to-none.  On “AGT,” Stern will clean up his act accordingly because, while I know this is difficult for many to believe, the guy is a consummate professional.  Yes, it’s true.

2) NBC needed him: How badly?  Enough to move heaven and earth — and the show from L.A. to New York — to get him.  And it will be worth it too — Stern will not only be very entertaining week after week, but the man is an electro-magnet for media attention.  His utterings on the show will be widely covered, at least initially, and “AGT” will reap the benefits in publicity.  In fact, with Stern on board, there’s little reason, other than timing, why this show shouldn’t air during the regular season on NBC, instead of the summer.  It would certainly do better than “The Sing-Off” or “The Biggest Loser,” competition shows that NBC had on its fall lineup this season that performed terribly in the ratings.

3) Stern “needed” this gig: Not in the sense that one “needs” a job in order to make money to support his family.  Stern’s rich enough to never have to work, but I suspect that an offer like this was irresistible to Stern, if it could be arranged.  Ever since he left terrestrial radio for Sirius, Stern has not been nearly the center of attention he once was in the heyday of his national morning show on old-fashioned broadcast radio.  With this “AGT” gig, he gets an opportunity for exposure in what is probably the most mainstream environment of his career — a G-rated talent show on one of our major TV networks.  Plus, he gets to feel relevant again, a media personality who still has the clout to get a network to roll out the red carpet for him, even though his history on television is mixed at best, and at worst, dismal.

Howard Stern on “America’s Got Talent”?  Our prediction: “AGT” is now poised to become the most talked-about TV show of 2012.

Contact Adam Buckman: adambuckman14@gmail.com

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