SAN DIEGO, December 15, 2011 – The rumors turned out to be true. Howard Stern announced on his Sirius/XM radio program today that he has been signed as the new judge on NBC’s reality competition series America’s Got Talent.
Stern replaces the departing Piers Morgan, joining Sharon Osborne and Howie Mandel. The show begins shooting new episodes in February. Producers were so eager to sign Stern that the show’s production has been moved from Los Angeles to New York to accommodate Stern so he can continue his New York-based radio show.
Stern’s fellow judges are thrilled. Osborne joined Stern on his show this morning to welcome him to the show. Mandel has said for weeks he hoped Stern would join the show, and told TMZ.com this morning “I couldn’t be happier. As my Mom always says, you can never have enough Howies.” Host Nick Cannon tweeted about the rumor when it first broke, and today tweeted “let the games begin!” to Stern.
Cue the outrage and let the hand wringing commence.
When the rumor first surfaced, the Parents Television Council (PTC), which says it is a “non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment” came out against Stern joining the program, questioning whether he should be part of a program watched by families. The PTC will no doubt be displeased and watching Stern’s every move on the show, filing complaints with the FCC the millisecond he pushes their boundaries of sex, violence, or profanity. Apparently the PTC didn’t care about the nudity, profanity, or violence on America’s Got Talent by the acts themselves.
Stern isn’t going to misbehave to the point of ruining this opportunity. Although he’s still a big draw on satellite radio, he doesn’t command the audience of his glory days. Stern has professed his desire to be a reality competition show judge for several years. Two years ago he said he wanted to be a judge on American Idol. He says he’s going to take judging seriously and not let any silly acts through. (What, no more Funny Little People? Dang).
The popular fan site “Pure America’s Got Talent” posted this comment after negative reaction by followers: “I’d say it would be a mistake for them to put Howard Stern on the show. Sure, I’m sure Howard would be a different man on America’s Got Talent than he is on his radio and TV shows. It might even show us that Howard is a real person like we found when Jerry Springer hosted the show. However, I think the show would definitely take a hit with its core viewers if they chose to put Howard on. The outcry would be big. Maybe that’s what they want.”
Of course it is, and AGT can afford to take a small hit in return for the overall boost. #HowardStern and #America’sGotTalent are top trending topics on Twitter (although not in Washington D.C., go figure), and it’s the hottest entertainment headline alongside the Golden Globe nominations.
It’s a smart move by AGT’s producers and it’s sure to be successful. Love him or loathe him, Stern brings audience gold to NBC. America’s Got Talent is already among NBC’s few hit shows, with an average of between 11 million and 15 million viewers. If even half of Stern’s 12 million radio listeners start watching AGT this spring, the show can stand to lose a few viewers in protest.
Not only are Stern’s listeners fanatically loyal, over 70 percent of his audience is made up of men between the ages of 18 and 49. This is a demographic advertisers are desperate to reach. Fewer adult men are watching television thanks to the draw of video games and online entertainment options. Companies that sell cars, beer, and electronics must be thrilled hearing the news about Stern joining AGT. They will snap up commercial time at a premium price. NBC would be smart to sell packages of ads to take advantage of their interest now.
Do the math, and follow the money. What else is new? Baba Booey, Baba Booey!
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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