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Howard Stern Picks His Early 'America's Got Talent' Favorites

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AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- New Orleans Auditions -- Pictured: (l-r) Howard Stern, Heidi Klum, Mel B, Howie Mandel

Every reality TV competition show needs its crotchety old man wizened veteran judge. Cue Howard Stern on "America's Got Talent."

Known for his shock jock ways on the radio, Stern, 59, was equally as blunt when asked for his early favorites for Season 8 of the hit summer series.

"We have a lot of good [acts]," he told Yahoo! TV on the red carpet of the show's first live taping at Radio City Music Hall. "I really like the Hitmen, the rock band."

At the beginning of season – just before they were about to perform for their first audition – Stern told the American Hitmen, a group made up of military veterans, "I am still looking for a great rock band and it is looking like you might deliver."

And deliver they did apparently. But they weren't the only ones.

[Related: 'America's Got Talent' Allows Voting Via Tweet]

"We have a couple of sort of magic, escape artist types and they are really good," Stern said. "What I am saying is that the variety is really fantastic. The show should be good."

Stern's bad boy exterior has been dialed down compared to last year and especially when juxtaposed with his radio persona. Instead, he's taking on more of a mentoring role … and that's just how he likes it.

"This is about the talent. This is about giving them a constructive voice, offering them something that's meaningful about how they can progress and really helping them to become superstars," Stern said.

The talent on "AGT" of late is varied, but promising, and includes singers, magicians, acrobats, comedians, and a whole plethora of other acts.

"I think that we have a better array of talent," judge Howie Mandel told Yahoo! TV of this season's crop of competitors compared to last season's.

The groups headed into the live rounds are vastly diverse with standouts such as Stern's pick, the American Hitmen, as well as comedic acrobats The KriStef Brothers, magician Collins Key, figure skating and aerialist combo Aerial Ice, and singer Branden James.

"America's Got Talent," featuring judges Howard Stern and Howie Mandel, airs live on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9 PM on NBC.

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