Howard Stern To Leave ‘America’s Got Talent’ After All

America’s Got Talent, but it doesn’t have Stern for much longer. Howard Stern, 61 years old, made the official decision to leave America’s Got Talent after four seasons, when he made the announcement on his radio show Wednesday morning. This announcement doesn’t shock many of Stern’s fans. Earlier in 2013, Howard had made his feelings clear in a network statement that implied Stern’s departure from America’s Got Talent would be forthcoming.

“I really, really did struggle with this decision because… I’ve been working a long time,” Howard said. “I really wanted to decide if this was going to take away too much… free time.”

Mr. Stern reflected on his duties with America’s Got Talent and found that he still felt a sense of fulfillment from his participation in America’s Got Talent, but it seems Howard’s feelings of satisfaction were short-lived.

“Did I really still enjoy doing it? Did I have something to say? Is it something I should be involved with still?”

Stern conceded, jokingly, that the “big black hole” inside him that “demands attention … won.”

The decision was made by Stern under a fair amount of pressure, as NBC executives told Howard they would need a decision by July 4 to leave room for replacement auditions. Mr. Stern’s retirement from America’s Got Talent may also benefit NBC in that they will be able to move the studio back to Los Angeles. When Howard Stern was first brought in to judge America’s Got Talent, NBC accommodated Stern’s obligations to his Sirius radio program by relocating the America’s Got Talent studio to New York City.

Mr. Stern came back to America’s Got Talent after season 9 with the idea that the show needed a softy, and who better to fill that role than Howard himself?

“I decided that a life without AGT is not a life worth living. America needs a caring, compassionate and wise judge and who am I to deny the people what they want? It would be selfish of me to walk away.”

Many believed Howard’s departure from America’s Got Talent was a sign of the radio personality’s desire to slow down and possibly make a move toward retirement, but Howard squashed any such rumors in his on-air announcement. Mr. Stern hinted to his listeners that there was another television opportunity over the horizon, one for which Mr. Stern wanted to make himself available.

Howard also suggested that AGT‘s executive producer Simon Cowell might want to return to the judge’s seat and fill the vacancy left by Stern’s departure.

[Featured image: Howard Stern courtesy of Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images]

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