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American Idol

Is King of All Media Stern ready to fill Simon Cowell's shoes?

Years as the most obnoxious — and richest — radio host in America seem to qualify him for Idol producers

Early Friday morning, The New York Post reported that Howard Stern is in negotiations with 19 Entertainment to replace Simon Cowell as the next head judge on “American Idol."

“An insider said that producers of the hit Fox show say Stern, America's highest-paid radio personality, is their top choice to take over from Cowell, who leaves at the end of this season. They approached the King of All Media after he repeatedly mentioned on-air that his exclusive Sirius XM Radio deal expires next January and he was open to other offers. Cowell was paid $50 million a year.”

While Stern certainly has the starpower and snark of a Simon Cowell, he lacks any expertise in music-making. Cowell’s attitude may be the stink that will linger after he departs Idol, but he brought decades of music industry success to the long table lined with prominently placed plastic Coke cups.

Cowell began his career in entertainment at EMI music, where he worked in A&R and publishing.  By 2002, his Syco music had assembled such an impressive roster of artists, including Il Divo and Leona Lewis, that it was bought by Sony.

Cowell's creation and ownership of the “X Factor” and the “Got Talent” franchise, and his tenure at Idol, make Cowell’s role in reality show talent competition culture a starring one.

The hole he leaves at Idol is a large one. His departure on the heels of the sacking of fellow judge Paula Abdul - her notorious antics and suspected substance abuse notwithstanding - means that only half the panel has any music background. Songwriter Kara DioGuardi and former member of arena rockers Journey, Randy Jackson, would be the only judges with industry experience.

In the wake of Taylor Swift's less-than-perfect Grammy performance, American Idol was held up as benchmark of technical vocal prowess. In defense of his artist, Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta said in a phone interview to The Tennessean:

"She is the voice of this generation. She speaks directly to (her fans), and they speak directly back to her. This is not 'American Idol.' This is not a competition of getting up and seeing who can sing the highest note. This is about a true artist and writer and communicator. It's not about that technically perfect performance."

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But that could change. The potential arrival of The King of All Media Stern at the helm of Idol’s panel may well call into question the show’s constant refrain, “After all, this is a singing competition.” We really hope Stuttering John isn't a guest judge.

Cowell is attached to Fox’s unveiling of a new “X Factor” in 2011. Sorry, haters: Cowell isn’t getting off your teevee anytime soon.

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King of (most) Media, Howard Stern