Howard Stern kicked off America's Got Talent on Monday night by saying to the audience, "These executives at NBC must be out of their mind taking a risk on me. I say I won't make it through the first show -- what do you think?"
But Howard did make it through, playing it seriously, prompting The Washington Post to say he became "a beloved uncle," instead of a shock jock that has struck fear into the hearts of the Parents Television Council. At one point, he said, "This is going to sound sappy. We are the greatest country in the world. You are everything that makes America great."
Howard's debut got off to a solid, if not spectacular, start, averaging about 10.3 million viewers, reports USA TODAY's Gary Levin. The number is below last summer's start, but last season's start on May 31, 2011, which drew 15.3 million viewers, was against repeats. Last night's show was against in-season original programming, including Dancing With the Stars and CBS comedies.