Howard Stern Joins "America's Got Talent" Tonight

By Jamie Ruby

Howard SternNBC's top rated summer reality series America's Got Talent returns tonight for its seventh season. This season the judges Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne are joined by radio personality Howard Stern, who promises to bring a unique perspective and brutal honesty to the show.

Stern recently talked to the media in a press conference about his time on America's Got Talent.

America's Got Talent
Howard Stern

May 10, 2012
12:00 pm CT

Howard SternQUESTION: You're on a family-friendly show now. Are you afraid about perhaps losing your edge?

HOWARD STERN: You want to know something?

I'm at a point in my career - I've been around a long time now -- over 35 years in broadcasting. I don't worry about much. And what I'm saying is that I respect what America's Got Talent is.

It is a family show. It is a show that I love. I've been watching it for years. I don't want to come in there and do The Howard Stern Show. I don't want to interrupt the flow of the show. I only want to make it better.

So if I go in there and I'm trying to turn into The Howard Stern Show where, you know, I'm being the way I am on the radio, it's not going to work. People are going to hate it. I would hate that if I was doing it.

I don't think I'm losing my edge because I've always been about honesty, whether on the radio, whether I did a movie, whether I wrote a book. And on America's Got Talent, I'm being honest.

And as long as you're honest, you don't lose your edge.


QUESTION: Before you even start, you have somebody out there protesting. And I'm sure you're used to this -- you're very accustomed to it...Have you had discussions with NBC? Has anything come up about this? Is there any reaction to it at all?

HOWARD STERN: You know, NBC has given me little to no direction, which is unbelievable to me.

I'd been, you know, when I was on the set doing this from city to city, I was waiting for some sort of notes -- you always hear about pushy network executives doing notes.

And finally about halfway through, I turned to one of the executives and I said, "Why am I not getting these notes that they talk about?" And they said, "Listen, you're Howard Stern. What are we going to tell you?"

And it - and that was a wonderful thing for them to say. And personally, I think this bunch is insane. I think they're all going to lose their jobs. No, but I think they - it was a vote of confidence that they liked what I had to say.

And you're referring to these Parents Television Council kind of thing. Look, those guys -- this - as far as I'm concerned, there's a couple of absurdities about it.

You can't complain about a show until you see it. Am I right? You still awake? Okay. You can't complain - you can't -- I'm sorry. I don't mean to wake you. If anybody wants to sleep, sleep. Don't worry. I won't wake you.

You know, you can't complain about a show until you see the show. Some guy sitting in his basement calling himself Parent Council -- Parent Television Council -- you know, I don't think there's more than 25 people in this thing. I think it's a money-raising racket.

But having said that, they're entitled to their opinion. They just sound awfully foolish when they haven't seen the show. And so I invite them to view the show Monday night and see what kind of judge I am to see if I'm very subversive or whatever it is they imagine I'm going to be.

This is a family show. It's a different kind of - it's a different form of entertainment. I've been a guest on many late night shows, I've been in prime time shows, you know, where I've been a guest.

I know the rules. I was just on The View. Bill Geddie walked in -- he starts giving me a lecture about what you can and can't say. I said, "Bill, I'm 58 years old. I feel like I'm 14. What are you talking about? I know what I can do."

And then Barbara Walters walks in and goes, "Don't listen to him. Be crazy. I don't care what you do." Talk about confusing messages.

But, you know, when you - when you talk about critics and things like that, the only reason I made it in this business, I feel, is that I didn't listen to critics, I didn't listen to executives, I tried to be true to my heart and do what was best for the particular point I was in my career.

So, you know, we'll see what happens. Hopefully, America will like us and put everybody's fears to rest.


QUESTION: How was the make out session with Matt Lauer this morning?

HOWARD STERN: Well, you got to hear this. I made out with Matt Lauer's forehead. And, you know, I - it was weird. I thought it would be offensive to me. It wasn't. I liked it.

QUESTION: You liked it.

HOWARD STERN: And, you know, in light of President Obama with gay marriage, I think I'm ready to marry Matt Lauer.

I also made out with Sherri Shepherd on The View...


HOWARD STERN: I don't know if you saw it.


HOWARD STERN: And Barbara Walters was in my lap...and we were getting it on.


QUESTION: Someone is victim here today, as well. Someone will fall victim.

HOWARD STERN: Yes, someone will fall victim. And I think it's (Bill Carter) over there...He's over there -- he's looking for it.

QUESTION: Your buddy Donald Trump said this is a genius casting move.

Steven Tyler from American Idol said he looked forward to seeing you as a judge.


QUESTION: I'm sure you agree with those statements, but you've dubbed yourself America's judge. What do you mean by that?

HOWARD STERN: What I mean by that is, it became very clear to me as we went from city to city that I was the judge -- you know, like I'll watch Dancing With the Stars.

I fast forward through the - everyone but Len. The other two, I don't care what they have to say. You've got, you know, there's always a judge you care what he has to say.

I'm a fan of Simon Cowell's, I'm a fan of - I was a fan of Piers when he was on America's Got Talent, Len from Dancing With the Stars. I liked that guy L.A. Reid -- I think he's good -- Adam Levine is good on The Voice.

There were certain people you care about and there were there you - and there were those that you don't. In my taste with this show America's Got Talent, I'm that judge that you care about. It's amazing.

And I didn't know this would happen, but my honesty is infectious...

QUESTION: I heard that you're much more of a hugger and everything else on that show than any would believe, so talk about a heart, right?

HOWARD STERN: I got to tell you yes.

There was an - there were amazing experiences in terms of, first of all, the audiences -- the fourth - the so-called (unintelligible) -- they give you tremendous energy.

And, you know, you come in and they're playing the AGT theme -- beautiful piece of music. I never heard anything so beautiful -- not since Metallica. But, you know, the people are hugging and this and that.

And it's true, when a - you know, I told this story already about the 7 year-old who I actually hugged on stage because he broke down and cried. He was a 7 year-old kid who rapped.

And I felt awful for him. And, you know, here's I'm telling you what an honest judge I am, but I tell you I do have my faults. The kid's crying, I get down on my knees and I'm hugging him.

I walked up on the stage -- I don't know the rules of the show -- I felt bad for him. He's 7 years old -- where the hell his parents were, I don't know. They don't even walk out.

So suddenly I'm parenting this kid and he wants to know, is he going through to Vegas. Now, you know, I told you he wasn't good. I hit my X. I hug him and I said, "You're going to Vegas."

I completely broke down.

QUESTION: Oh so you gave him another chance, is what you're saying?

HOWARD STERN: I did give him another chance.

It was awful. I - but other than that, I was very honest with people.

QUESTION: But I guess the real thing I'm wondering is, your long-standing listeners -- are they going to be concerned that you're going mainstream and that maybe you're going to become somebody else?

HOWARD STERN: You know what -- I don't worry about that anymore.

I used to in the beginning of my career. I'm not a beginner. I'm an elder statesman now. If my audience - you know what? I genuinely perceive that my audience is excited that the rest of America will get to you know hear me and I think it's exciting.

I mean how bizarre that I'm on - I'm the judge on America's Got Talent.

QUESTION: I agree.

HOWARD STERN: For people who have listened to me all these years, they are like how could that have happened? You know we would have a better chance of you know the earth exploding tomorrow or the moon blowing up than me being a judge on America's Got Talent.

So I think my audience is excited by this. They understand that it's a different arena, and I still think there's some room for edge on the show. And again, it's honesty. Yes.

QUESTION: In your radio career, every new show you took over, the ratings went up, and I'm wondering what your own goals and expectations are about what kind of talent you could bring to AGT.

HOWARD STERN: Well that's a good question...Now, every time I went on the radio, I would take the crummiest radio station, the station that was like a toilet bowl. I would go on there and build up the ratings, so you couldn't do any worse.

This is very unusual. This is a hit show. This has something like I don't know 20 million viewers. So you know, there might people who don't watch. Maybe I will bring new people to the table. We don't know; it's an experiment.

But look, if it doesn't work, I will crawl back to my hole on Sirius Satellite Radio and I will sit there and I will lick my wounds. If it does work, I would be thrilled because I really hope that this will be exciting and fun for people.

I do think this type of television risks going the way of the disco ball. That if the judges don't step up and offer real criticism that these types of shows will start to get too dull. And so you know, I'm hopefully going to add some energy to it.

QUESTION: Now you talked about your make out session this morning with Matt Lauer and Barbra Walters, Sherri Shepherd. Who is the best kisser out of all of them?

HOWARD STERN: Well first of all, look at me. Nobody kissed me back.

QUESTION: No one kissed you back.

HOWARD STERN: No one kissed me back. I mean when you have a face like this, it's difficult to get a kiss back, but you know.

Yeah, one of the things about being on America's Got Talent that is absolutely scary to me is that you know people have to look at my face. I don't think I'm a particularly handsome man. This is a face made for radio, so we will see how it does.

QUESTION: Beth loves you.

HOWARD STERN: Beth, my wife, loves me. Thank God for her. How I seduced her is beyond me, but somehow she loves me and I'm lucky. I'm lucky for that.

QUESTION: And then lastly, when you were with Matt, you said that he comes over for drinks. What is that conversation like - you and Matt Lauer having drinks?

HOWARD STERN: Matt Lauer and Annette, his beautiful wife, come over to my home regularly and we have - you know we live near each other and we have a lot in common Matt and I as you can see.


HOWARD STERN: We are both sex symbols and we both wake up early in the morning, but we have wonderful conversations. Matt confides in me about what he really thinks about his fellow - boy, (Bill), he would love this. He tells - I have made so many decisions about The Today Show and what we're going to be doing with various anchor people, who we are going to try to work into the show.

We've been talking heavily about getting rid of Al Roker ever since he - you know when he was fat, he was jolly and fun. Now he is like a prune. I don't know, right. It looks like they stuck a pin in him.

But yeah, I mean you know. So Matt and I actually talk behind their backs and I know like I know a lot of deep, dark secrets and things, and it's fabulous.

QUESTION: The report is that Brittany Spears is going to The X Factor. I'm wondering what your opinion is about that decision and what kind of...

HOWARD STERN: Well I think it's a wonderful decision. You know Brittany still thinks the earth is flat. She - you know I can't imagine that - you know listen. I think that we are going to tune in to see her you know if she can sort of function for the thing, right.

As far as any real criticism, I think Simon and LA Reed will be doing that. I think Brittany is going to stand there, and eat a lollipop, and you know wear a sexy outfit. I don't anticipate any great opinions from her. I think she's going to sit there like J.Lo and, "You are wonderful, you are terrific, do you think I could get a perfume endorsement out of this? Do you think I could get to perform on the show?"

I think that's what it's about, but I think it will be interesting. I will tune in to see what kind of train wreck she is, absolutely.


QUESTION: Let's talk about primetime audiences, because they haven't been exactly kind to you over the years when you did The Howard Stern Show. With CBS for example, you went up against Saturday Night Live and that lasted a couple of (seasons).

HOWARD STERN: Well you know when I did my show that you are referring to, it was reruns of my show. We didn't have a high expectation for it. CBS asked me if they could run these shows as a filler you know kind of thing.

When I went up against Saturday Night Live, it was in the - I think it was in the '90s maybe. I was on WOR. WOR had absolutely no audience at 11 o'clock at night, and within the year, we were beating Saturday Night Live hands down.

QUESTION: But what was the tipping point when you said, "I got to work for NBC again."

HOWARD STERN: It wasn't that I had to work for NBC. NBC happened to have America's Got Talent. And you know in analyzing the landscape of this, America's Got Talent is the perfect fit with me. for me to sit there and just judge music acts, I think it's getting a little tired, you know, and we haven't seen a superstar out of that in a while. What I like about the uniqueness of America's Got Talent is that it's true vaudeville.

You - I'm sitting there at one of the auditions, a guy come out, his act is he gets kicked in the nuts, and I said, "What kind of eunuch is this? I'm here to find talent." Well the guy comes out with three guys, he takes of his pants, you could see he's not wearing a cup. Do you know what I'm saying? And they start to kick him in the balls.

And I am laughing like it's The Three Stooges or Jackass and I go these guys are fabulous. So I said to the guy, "Look, I'm going to put you through to the next round. You're fabulous." So you see you've got to keep stepping it up.

And I don't - I mean I said, "Do you have children?" He had three children already. I said, "I don't know how you are doing this. It's hysterical, but you've got to" - and he said, "Howard, if you put me through, I will step it up." So God knows - I think I may be able to get him to shoot his balls off.

So the guy walks out and he comes out with a big entourage, and he gets on his back on the floor, and he spreads his legs. And one of these guys takes a bowling ball, and as hard as he can he bowling balls right into this guy's nuts. And he's writhing in pain and I'm laughing. I go wait a second. I am laughing.

This is - I know you don't think it's an act, but it's an act. So you know and then Nick Cannon comes out. He says, "Nick, kick me in my balls," and Nick is on stage kicking this guy and people are hysterically laughing. And I said, "You know you don't get that kind of talent on just any show."

But really, there is an assortment. There was a mentalist, a juggler, you get dancers. And you know I was a professional dancer for 17 years, right. You don't know that? You didn't know that. Yeah, you know I was. I was in a dance troop of ballet mostly, some ja interpretations.

And you know we had a marching band this season, unbelievable. I mean do you think I'd like a marching band? I love these guys. They are a bunch of guys that came from a tough life and they do a take with a marching band on contemporary music. They are absolutely spectacular.

So we have this variety show and that suits me, because look what I've been doing on the radio. I've made stars out of people like Ronnie the Limo Driver and Beetlejuice, so you know I can take - you know I've seen everything come down you know the pike and it excites me to be a part of this.

And actually you know I'm at the point in my life where I'd like to mentor people and I mean this. If a guy is struggling on America's Got Talent, and suddenly he wants to know why he is not winning week after week or he's in the bottom three, I think I would be upfront enough with him.

And also, I've been in the business so long and I've laughed when every one of my critics said, "You will never last. Howard Stern is a shock jock. He will last for a year and he will be off the radio. He will be you know a footnote in radio history." And the reason I laugh is that I worked hard and I thought every minute about my audience and what I could do to entertain them.

And I even lectured some of the people. They were in the standby category, which is not the highest category. And I turned to them and I said after one act, "Did you see how hard that guy worked? See how he came out dressed? Do you see his attitude?" I said, "If you don't give me that, I'm throwing you out of here and I'm doing you a favor. You should go find another business."

Because I think I really do have something to offer people and say look if you want to make it, I'm someone who made it. You know I had incredible success on pay-per-view, you know a movie, books, all of this kind of thing, and there is a reason for it. It's not by luck, it's through hard work.

You know a lot of morning guys I know went downhill because they had to go out at night, they wanted an outside life. You have to have no life. There can be no distractions, and I tell them this. You've got to in a sense make a deal with the devil. You've got to give up your personal life in order to have a show business career that's super successful.

QUESTION: You are obviously very honest with these people.


QUESTION: But we also are a fan of attractive women. Would you let attractive, but not so talented people stay up there, or do you consider yourself very arbitrary?

HOWARD STERN: There were many times where I thought somebody had a visual presentation that was so powerful. Not just women, but men as well.

There was a guy who got up. I would say he was an okay singer. The guy had such an effect on the women in the audience. I remember disagreeing with my fellow judges on this. I said, "If I was a record company executive, I would put money into this guy over half of the better singers we saw because he does have the look." Looks have something to do with it.

This was a pop singer. We know that you know Justin Bieber ain't no great singer. It's his looks, it's he's cute, and younger fans respond to him. Guys want to be like him, girls want to you know be his girlfriend, and yes, there are people who - there was one woman I could think of too who made a beautiful visual presentation.

And you have to take that into account. If you don't, you are being dishonest and I have to be honest, and I'm sure some people might be offended by that, but this is my feeling about show business. It's not all about pure talent. There are certain people who command a stage because they look good like me. You can't take your eyes off me, right? Thank you.

Yes, it's true, so thank you.

QUESTION: You've been judging oddities of different forms on your radio show for many years. How has that experience prepared you for this experience?

HOWARD STERN: You know radio - being a broadcaster has definitely meant something in terms of what I've brought to America's Got Talent. Broadcasting is what it's all about.

Can you imagine how daunting it was for me when I was a young man and I got these radio jobs, and in order to hold a radio job, you have to draw people through quarter hours? Every 15 minutes in the ratings, you have to draw people through this.

And one of my accomplishments in radio was that I could hold people longer than my competition, and this is the kind of thing as a broadcaster. It taught me how to shorten things up, how to be interesting. You could start to feel what the audience needed. It's almost like a - you know it's like a psychic kind of thing with the audience.

I could feel the presence of a guy or woman driving in their car to work being bored to death, and I said, you know, "That's something that you develop as you get on the radio and get more comfortable." So as a broadcaster, as a radio broadcaster, I think I bring a unique perspective. I think...

QUESTION: In terms of the judging aspect.

America's Got TalentHOWARD STERN: Yes, in terms of the judging. Because you know what? I know what's commercially viable. I started out in my career - was a program director and I had to pick music.

Imagine this. Some guy has an investment in a radio station, millions of dollars, and in this case, probably hundreds of thousands. It was a crummy radio station, but this guy trusted me to pick the two records we added every week in order to somehow predict what America or at least my audience in that market would want to hear, and so you know it becomes you know an intuitive thing.

The people I put on my show, the people I work with, the guests that I have, and it's intuitive. You have to know what real talent is, and that honesty has to come through, so I think I'm excellent in terms of my preparation for this.

I said on the View today, "I'm using this job as a judge on America's Got Talent as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. That's my next judging job." Thank you.


QUESTION: You obviously gave a lot of advice to people on the show. What's the one thing you learned from one of the contestants or potential contestants on the show?

HOWARD STERN: So there were a lot of contestants. One of the things I learned from the contestants is some contestants would come on and they would be all of 17-years-old. And they would get up there, and they would go - and we would start to criticize them, and I mean it in a meaningful way and not just to be mean.

And they would start in and they would go you don't understand. I've been working my whole life. You have to give me a chance. And I would go your whole life? You don't even know what work is yet.

I said, "When I was 17, I didn't know work. You are working your whole life. What does that mean? You started at 13 and you've put in four years of what, dance recitals? I don't' want to hear that. You haven't worked hard yet. This show is a shortcut, but if you are going to get on the shortcut, you've got a lot of hard work ahead of you."

So what I learned is that a lot of people think they have talent. A lot of people wanted to be handed a gift or an opportunity. It doesn't work that way. You've got to work hard.

And I've learned also that you're nuts can take a bowling ball and that was the biggest thing I learned. Yeah.

QUESTION: ...[Did] the show [or] did you have any doubts about doing it?

HOWARD STERN: You know, you always - I'll answer the second part of your question. The first part was when was I first contacted by NBC. I know it was several months before it was announced because at first I wasn't going to do it. Because, don't forget, a lot of obstacles had to be, you know, looked into primarily the fact that I work in New York and the show was live in Los Angeles.

And NBC needed to go back and think it through if it was worth moving the show to New York for me. And I was very honored when they did that. You know, that was really a compliment that they would move the whole show there. I don't know if the staff is thrilled with me but I'm thrilled that they're coming to beautiful Newark by the way. How exciting is that? I should have quit; I never should have taken the job.

The second part of your question was did I have any doubts. You know, when I look at my career I always think things through. I'm calculated to a degree. But this was actually a pretty easy decision. I turned to my agent and my agent, (Donna) first said to me oh I got this goofy call from NBC, America's Got Talent, you don't want to do that do you? I said no. I really love the show.

And I kind of don't want to sit and calculate. I don't want to sit and analyze if it's the right thing for me to do or not the right thing to do. I didn't want to go through all of those internal insecurities. I felt hey, this feels like fun to me. How fun for my audience to see me on this. And maybe America will enjoy me on it and I took a leap of faith and went with it. So it really - I wasn't that insecure about it.

Now I'm insecure but then I wasn't.


QUESTION: On the show everyday, you are so used to working with your subordinates, has it been an adjustment to working with Howie and Sharon who are at least on the surface your equals?

HOWARD STERN: They're not my - let's clear that up right away. I've got to tell you a story about that before you say Howie and Sharon are my equals. So we're in these deliberation room - this is after we interview, you know, we've gone through 140 - we've narrowed it down to about 140 acts and we have to get it down to 48 acts.

And we're going way into the night; way past I think midnight or something. And Howie and Sharon are very passionate people and they're arguing with me about a certain act. I don't think they should go through; they think he should. And it's going on and on and on.

And finally I put a stop to it. I said, look, Howie, you've got a wonderful career, you're a standup comic, you do very well. Sharon, it seems like, you know, you've got a nice TV show, you're doing well. But I am a superstar. I make 500 times more money than you do. I command a huge audience. There's been a movie made about my life. Really let's end this conversation now. I'm the bigger talent and we should go with my opinion.

And so they looked at me. They were somewhat stunned. And they laughed and then they got their way so that was the end of that. But I'm the big star on the show; you'll see, you'll see. Okay and certainly bigger than Nick. I mean, who heard of Nick?

QUESTION: Who has softer skin, Matt Lauer or Barbara Walters?

HOWARD STERN: Honestly, you know, I wasn't thinking about that but I would say - boy, Matt was awfully soft. I mean, he's probably done - he's never done a hard day's work, I mean, he was so soft. You know, Barbara's been in combat or something, I don't know...She did combat reporting. (Unintelligible) for a report that's - I love Barbara; she was at my wedding. She stayed for two seconds and left. She was really sincere about being there.

It was great. She brought a microphone to my wedding.


HOWARD STERN: What? I am going to watch - you know, NBC was having some sort of upfront party Monday night. I said no, I'm going home, I'm going to watch it with America on Monday night from my bedroom. I get into bed with my wife. I'm going to lay there. If she's lucky if I'm really doing well I'll make love to her doing the commercials.

And she will receive wonderful love-making like you've never - you know, people have compared me to a giant praying mantis. Can you imagine a praying mantis crawling all over that beautiful woman? It's something to see.

QUESTION: [For] a long time there were rumors that you were being woo'd by American Idol. And I can tell from listening to the show that American Idol was your first love. Were there ever any substantive talks with American Idol?

HOWARD STERN: There were not any talks with American Idol of substance. I had had a meeting with another network. They wanted to develop a show where I was a judge. And I think word got out about that and I don't want to say the network ABC but I - no, they had approached me about some stuff. And it didn't work out. It wasn't right for me and that kind of thing. And so then everyone got a hold of this idea that they assume it was American Idol.

And I don't think I would want to be on American Idol quite frankly. I like America's Got Talent because, as I said before, of this, you know, this variety aspect. And American Idol, to me, is just singers. And I don't know that that's for me; I don't know if that's the right fit. I'd rather sort of be all over the place with different kinds of acts.

I enjoy that much more because if you went from city to city when you're seeing 300-400 acts in this period of time can you imagine sitting through endless singers? It's so much more exciting to have a guy come out who turned a whole theater into an instrument. He develops his own instruments, makes his own instruments. It's exciting. And that's more my style.

QUESTION: Is that the guy with the testicles?

HOWARD STERN: Yeah. That was before the guy with the testicles. I want to combine the two of them.

QUESTION: Are you the best hire NBC has ever made?

HOWARD STERN: You know what, we'll see. If America likes me I'm the best hire NBC made. If America doesn't like me I'm sure Paul Telegdy will be right out of a job. No, you know what, I think it was a very bold move on their part. And I am thrilled and honored that they chose me.

And I know that I have my critics. I know, you know, it was very interesting to me when I was over at The View today the lawyer who works there she said, Howard, and this is the kind of conversations I have with people - they call me Howard - and she said, Howard, I never liked you; I never liked your show. I got invited to a taking in New York of America's Got Talent.

And she said, I went, she goes you totally converted me. I love the show. I think you're a wonderful judge. And that pleases me because I do want to do a good job for NBC. I don't want to alienate their audience. They already have a vast audience. Lots of kid watch the show. Families watch the show.

And in my opinion I think they did make a good hire because a lot of people walked out of there saying, hey, this was a nice way to see Howard in an environment like this in this part of the show and I think it's - I hope it's going to be successful. We'll see.

QUESTION: Do you expect America at large to fall in love with you the same way that your radio audience has?

HOWARD STERN: I expect America to fall in love with me the same way my wife has fallen in love with me. And I probably will be sleeping with one of you very soon. That's right.

QUESTION: Are you nervous though?

HOWARD STERN: You know, I do - I'm very - the thing about me no matter who I ever went to work for I take it as huge responsibility. I always want to do well for the people who hire me. When I sat with Leon Black who owned Sirius at the time I was sitting in his apartment and here's a very successful guy. And he said to me, Howard, how many radios can you sell? You know, I want to hire you, blah, blah, blah, blah, and this kind of thing.

And I said I don't know. I said but one thing you'll know about me is I will obsess about my job. I will give you 100% and I will do everything to make everyone come over to satellite radio. And in the same way I feel a responsibility to all the folks at NBC who put their faith in me. I feel a responsibility to Howie and Sharon and Nick who have developed this show all along.

And I do - I do worry about it. And I really feel a responsibility to the people who love this show already. In no way do I want to get in the way of this. I want to broaden it to make it better. So, yeah, I have anxiety about it. And I'd always like to please the people who hire me. I'm, you know, having said that I haven't slept in three days.

QUESTION: Just wondering what you're looking for in a talent; what really takes your breath away?

HOWARD STERN: I'm looking for somebody who I think can turn an audience on. Whether it's sort of a diamond in the rough, something unpolished but it's got to be - here's the key. I'm looking for somebody who makes me want to see them again. And if I go I need to see that again whether you're getting kicked in the nuts or you're turning a whole theater into music or you're a squirrel that goes around in a circle in a pool on water skis. I'm there. If you get me that way I'm in.

If I think it's a legitimate act that I would pay and an even higher litmus test is if I was an agent would I take you on as a client? If I was a record company would I hire you for my record company to represent? That's what I look at. Would I put my own money into that act and that's where I'm at.

QUESTION: You've said before that you're a superstar. You obviously...

HOWARD STERN: I'm a superstar. Let me repeat that...Did anyone miss that?

QUESTION: You obviously make a lot of money, as you've said.

HOWARD STERN: That's right.

QUESTION: I think a lot of people are wondering why you're really taking this gig? Is it television? Why - can you give us some real insight into...

HOWARD STERN: Well I read an article where someone said, you know, Howard Stern is un-serious and he's not in the public's consciousness anymore. I said that's so ridiculous. I ran over to Sirius to get away from the public. They won't leave me alone. The one reason that I took this job - and it's a pure reason. I didn't need the money. I didn't need more fame. I certainly feel famous enough.

I certainly feel like I'm comfortable in my life and I'm happy about that. I just love the show. And I thought, wow, how much fun to do it. That's the only reason I did it. I thought it would be fun. And I thought I might be good at it.

Because I sit at home watching this thing and I'm doing commentary to the wall. Whenever these shows are on, especially America's Got Talent, I sit there, I yell, this is the way it should be. Why aren't you telling this kid that and the other thing. I figure well I might as well get paid for it so that's why I did it.

QUESTION: You said today that you are a fan of Piers Morgan when he was on the show.


QUESTION: But how will you be a better judge than him?

HOWARD STERN: How will I be a better judge than Piers? Well first of all - and I probably shouldn't say this - everybody there to a person has come up to me and said thank God you're the new judge. We didn't - you know, we weren't that crazy about Piers personally. I think everybody had issues with him but don't write that...

No, no but in all seriousness I think Piers is a hard act to replace. And the only thing I could do - and I can't tell you whether I was a better judge or not; you'll tell me when you see the show. But the only thing I can do is, again, bring honesty to it and I thought Piers did that. I thought Piers was the guy who had his own set of rules. He was consistent.

And so I try to do all of those things. Be consistent, be helpful. You know, you know, I don't know that I'm any better than him - okay I am - honestly I am. But we'll see what happens. You'll tell me.

QUESTION: Once people see this side of you, you know, they've seen the small little media blitz...

HOWARD STERN: You mean as opposed to the (unintelligible) side of me?



QUESTION: So when they see the, you know, softer side of Howard Stern or the PG Howard Stern, will you then be comfortable with that sort of new title?


HOWARD STERN: You know what, here's the thing I'm not that - it's a weird thing. When I go on Letterman - and I abide by the standards of the network television - I don't suddenly think of myself as like oh - I feel I could do it all. When you hear me on satellite I have a very explicit, you know, we talk about sex, we talk about drugs, we talk about everything in an honest way. But that's on Sirius Satellite Radio.

In the same way that Red Foxx had a very dirty standup act but he was one of the most successful, you know, comedians on television in a sitcom. And I'd like to think that depending on the medium and where I am that I can add something outrageous to everything. And by outrageous I mean honest and different and not be cookie cutter.

You don't have to necessarily do my serious act on America's Got Talent, and I haven't. You know, I wouldn't be on it then. I think there's all types of way to fit in.

Can't we all just get along? Is anybody still here? Oh, okay, yeah, go ahead.

QUESTION: Speaking of Fartman...


QUESTION: Cee Lo Green recently farted on The Voice. As the original Fartman, do you have anything that could top it?

HOWARD STERN: You know, I don't get that. That's disgusting. That poor cat that he holds probably got gassed. I hope he's all right.

No, you know, I'm not into that on a family show. Here, I would do it but, you know, not on (unintelligible). That's fine, I mean, he can do what he wants.

You know, on The Voice too I think they have to remain true and honest and they, you know, there's a -- again, I don't think I'd work well on that show because I don't like the idea of the judges competing. That's not helping the act. The judges are more concerned whether they win than the act winning.

So I, you know, that's not for me. I appreciate the show but I don't - that's not for me.

QUESTION: You mentioned no NBC executives have given you any notes on the Got Talent stuff. Has anyone asked you to maybe stop ripping on Jay Leno?

HOWARD STERN: No one has approached me about my feelings for Jay Leno. They know my feelings on Jay run deep. I was on Jimmy Kimmel last night badmouthing Jay and much to NBC's credit, after I finished, I said, "Oh those executives are going to get a hold of Jimmy Fallon and they're going to delete everything I said about Jay."

They did not delete a word, and I must say I am very proud of them. And btw, Jay handed in his resignation two hours ago. I'm sure Jay was pissed, but I admire that -- I'll tell you this, I admire that Jay didn't have me killed and I admire that NBC didn't have me killed, and that I think is great.

QUESTION: I was wondering how you felt when the producers said, "Okay, we'll move it to the East Coast, but you have to film in New Jersey." How do you feel about filming in New Jersey?

HOWARD STERN: I've got to be honest for you, I wasn't expecting that one. When they seduced me into this job, they said - Paul Telegdy said, "You know Howard, it's only 31 days of work." They didn't tell me there was 700 hours in a day.

They've gotten every bit of their money. And, you know, the plan was that we were either going to shoot at Silvercup or at - in that Brooklyn, whatever that is, the Steiner. Steinit, Steiner? Yeah, we were going to shoot there.

But evidently I guess it wasn't available or it was too much money, who knows. It was too much money. But they came up to Newark.

So after I got out of - I passed out on the floor. After I woke up and I heard it was Newark, it's tough for me because - I have nothing against Newark, but it's a little bit further than I wanted to go because, excuse me, the tricky part for me is going to be getting up at four in the morning on the nights we go live and we're late. So, you know, it's a bit of a scheduling hassle, Newark, but I'm sure it'll be fun.

I'm sure everyone can't wait to go see the show there. Be careful where you park your car. But I'm glad.

You want to know something? I was particularly proud that when they moved the show to New York, I felt really glad for our local economy and to bring business into New Jersey I think is a good thing. I really think I should be given a hero's parade in New Jersey, especially in Newark.

That's right.

QUESTION: Any standouts from the New York City auditions and how did New York measure up to the rest of the country?

HOWARD STERN: You know, New York was a weird city and I thought oh, everything's going to be a slam dunk in New York. New York's going to have the greatest talent. And it's funny, it wasn't until the last day we were here at night that we had seven acts in a row that were amazing.

And I think that's where I found the guy with the balls, so it was great. All of a sudden, seven guys in a row - great singers, you know, just great everything, you know. It was just, like, bam, bam, bam, bam, bam, and that's what you look for.

QUESTION: But before that, nothing good?

HOWARD STERN: It was - yeah, there were a couple of things that were good, but we hit a snag where it was just one bad act after another and you go, "Oh my God, are we going to have enough good acts?" And then all of a sudden it hits. It's really a fascinating process and if you can, come to one of these live shows.

You will be shocked how this staff puts together these acts on stage one after another. It is an incredible machine. I don't know how they do it.

I was amazed by the people who work on America's Got Talent, and my hat's off to them. I mean my wig. This is a wig, you know, it's not real.

QUESTION: This is not a transition for you departing from radio ever, right?

HOWARD STERN: No, I mean I've been slowing down with my radio career and I've been thinking that in three and a half years I'd retire, but I keep saying that and I keep resigning, so I obviously don't know myself well after four days a week of therapy for the last 15 years. I can say, "Oh, I hate radio, I'm not going to do it anymore," and then I resign. So I clearly don't know what I'm talking about.

QUESTION: How many more years with Sirius, then?

HOWARD STERN: I have three and a half more years with Sirius.

QUESTION: Do you have any Mother's Day plans?

HOWARD STERN: Do I have any plans Mother's Day? Well, yeah, you know, we - yeah, I guess so. You know, I'll call my mother and different things like that, but we usually kind of plan a dinner or something along those lines. But I haven't planned anything yet.

You know, I better, because she'll go, "Howard, please. You didn't call, you didn't write, what's the matter with you?" You know, I don't want to get the guilt trip so I'm going to do it.

QUESTION: You're a big friend of the gay and lesbian community and I'm just wondering since you were not on the air today and you only work (three) days a week, what's your reaction today to what the President said last night, being in favor of gay marriage?

HOWARD STERN: I, you know, look, my feelings are very clear on this. And, you know, we all get one life to live here. It's 2012, and for gay and lesbian couples who are in love, not to be able to be married is so absurd. And I wish the President had actually gone further.

I wish he had said that he was going to back some legislation on a national level, not on a state level. But he would have come out and said, you know what, I've been in office four years. It feels like a political maneuver in the sense that, you know, if he said - I wish he would have been even stronger about it.

But okay, this is a good first step. It's a baby step. I wish we didn't always have to take baby steps.

You know, when you read in history about Harry Truman and stuff, who would say things because he believed them, I would like the President to really get behind this and push it. There's just too many people being bullied, too many people's lives being wrecked.

This is something that is long overdue. And, you know, we all have gay and lesbian people in our families, and these are good people. And these nutbags, like Santorum and Bachmann, who make these people, and especially young gay kids feel miserable, shame on them.

They're quacks. I would never vote for them. I wouldn't even listen to them because, you know, there but for the grace of God go they.

And they call themselves Christians. If you're a Christian you don't sit there and worry about what somebody else is doing, if they're happy and they're committed in a relationship. So this is wonderful news that the President has said it, long overdue and I think he's got to do a lot more.

QUESTION: You've been honest with your opinions about the other judges like Jennifer Lopez, Simon Cowell. Are you truly happy with your fellow judges, Sharon and Howie? If you were starting on a blank - with a blank page and bringing fellow judges on, who would you have brought on?

Howard SternHOWARD STERN: I am telling you that, you know, it's a funny thing with me. I didn't know what to expect because Howie and Piers had gotten into this sort of adversarial relationship, and it never rang true to me. And I sat down with Howie in the beginning and I said, "Look, you know, I'm here for the contestants."

I respect Howie Mandel so much. This is a guy - did you used to watch - you're much younger, but I used to watch him on Merv Griffin. He was a wonderful talk show guest.

He was an extraordinary standup comic. He went into network television and was on St. Elsewhere. He did film.

This is a guy who was very accomplished. And I respect him and I respect his opinions. And so I believe he deserves a place at that judging table.

Sharon Osbourne is one the most passionate managers I've ever seen in show business. She actually managed Ozzy. This woman was so committed to that job that one day I was at a concert, I was at a radio station, (KROQ).

We were throwing a concert, Ozzy was performing and the band Limp Bizkit came on before Ozzy, and they badmouthed Ozzy. Sharon - I saw this woman walk over to the side of the stage and pull all the power out of the walls so Limp Bizkit would fail. This is a committed - that's what you've got to be in show business.

You've got to be a little vicious. You've got to be narcissistic. You've got to be on fire about your career.

Sharon always exhibited that about her career. Sharon, I think more so than any of the three of us, she is the one who can almost instantly sort of snap to and size up talent. She's very, very good at it.

And so I'm not evaluating who else could be on the show or shouldn't be on the show, but I'm very pleased to be working with Howie and Sharon. And I think they have - listen. I kicked some associate when I got there.

I told them, follow my lead and the level of your judging will go up. They have risen to the occasion. I'm so fabulous, not only as a teacher for them, but also as a fellow judge.

QUESTION: Do you think you would have said yes if they weren't Sharon and Howie, but it were Britney and J.Lo next to you?

HOWARD STERN: Oh no, no I wouldn't. No I would not because, you know what? I think we have the best judging panel out there out of all these shows.

I think that the judges all offered constructive, precise criticisms, and I really like it. To sit there with J.Lo and Britney Spears and try to prop those two up, I'd be like, you know, like a ventriloquist with two dummies. I'm not going to sit there and do that. Right, guys?

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