"America's Got Talent": Howard Stern takes the reins

Auditions, New York. From left, Nick Cannon, Mir Money and Howard Stern.
Virginia Sherwood/NBC

(CBS News) All eyes were on Howard Stern Monday night, as the sometimes-controversial Sirius XM shock jock made his debut on "America's Got Talent."

Stern joined a judges' panel that already includes Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel.He replaces  Piers Morgan.

Part tough guy, part softie, Stern, 58, showed both sides of his personality on the seventh season premiere of NBC's talent competition. He gave out hugs to contestants and his fellow judges, and even surprised viewers by hitting the stage to dance with contestant Simply Sergio.

Stern also displayed enthusiasm during the first round of auditions. After a performance by Light Wire Theater, he told the dancers, "We are the greatest country in the world. We have the most creative people. You're everything that makes America great. I applaud your originality and I thank you for lifting everyone's spirit."

Other times, we were reminded of what helped make Stern a radio pioneer in the first place: his raw sense of humor and brutal honesty.

When one contestant, who had already been booed, mentioned that his parents had died, Stern responded, "Did they die of embarrassment?"

As for Stern, he has been busy doing promotion for the show, but on Monday night, he kicked back and watched it on television, just like everyone else.

So, how did he do? So far, critics' reviews have been largely positive, with People noting that Stern "showed a lot of heart," while the Washington Post described him as a "beloved uncle."

"These executives at NBC must be out of their mind to take a risk on me," Stern said at the start of Monday's episode.

But perhaps it was a risk worth taking. Time will tell.

On Tuesday's two-hour episode, the judges head to San Francisco for another round of open auditions. It airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT.