In a shocking afternoon announcement on Wednesday (Sept. 9), FOX revealed that Ellen DeGeneres has joined "American Idol" as the popular talent show's permanent fourth judge.

DeGeneres will join Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi on the judging panel following the audition rounds, replacing long-time "American Idol" regular Paula Abdul, who abruptly departed the show this summer.

"I could not be more excited to have Ellen join the 'American Idol' family," said creator and executive producer Simon Fuller. "Ellen has been a fan of the show for many years, and her love of music and understanding of the American public will bring a unique human touch to our judging panel. I can’t wait for this next season to begin."

Added executive producer Cecile Frot-Coutaz, "We're all delighted to have Ellen join our ninth season of 'American Idol.' Beyond her incredible sense of humor and love of music, she brings with her an immense warmth and compassion that is almost palpable. She is one of America’s foremost entertainers, and we cannot wait to have her join our team."

DeGeneres has been a been revered stand-up comic, a successful TV star and producer, an Emmy-winning talk show host and she's no stranger to serving as a FOX reality show judge, having guested on "So You You Think You Can Dance" this summer. 

While FOX made its formal announcement late Wednesday afternoon, a select group of people had already learned the news when DeGeneres announced it at a taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." 

"I'm not leaving here," DeGeneres reassured the audience, in an episode airing on Thursday. "Don't worry about that. I'm going to have a day job and a night job. The times we're living... in we're all doing that.  This is so exciting for me.  We've been dealing with this for the last couple of weeks and I've been dying to tell everyone. It's just been so hard to keep it a secret and we just finally got the ok and I'm so excited. It is going to be so much fun. I don't know how it happened myself but I have not missed one episode of that show. I've watched every single thing.  I love everything about it and I love music, as you know. Hopefully I'm the people's point of view because I'm just like you. I sit at home and I watch it and I don't have that technical.. .I'm not looking at it in a critical way from the producer's mind.  I'm looking at it as a person who is going to buy the music and is going to relate to that person. So I'm hopefully going to be that voice of what we're all doing at home."

While this will be a new role on "American Idol" for DeGeneres, she isn't exactly a total neophyte, having co-hosted the show's "Idol Give Back" telethon events.

In the formal FOX press release, DeGeneres adds, "I’m thrilled to be the new judge on 'American Idol.' I’ve watched since the beginning, and I’ve always been a huge fan. So getting this job is a dream come true, and think of all the money I’ll save from not having to text in my vote."

After eight seasons as judge, Abdul ended her "American Idol" tenure in a series of messages posted to Twitter on Aug. 4. Soon after, FOX announced that while Abdul would eventually be replaced by a full-time judge, a series of guest judges would take her place for the audition rounds. Simon, Randy and Kara will team up with Victoria Beckham, Mary J. Blige, Kristin Chenoweth, Joe Jonas, Neil Patrick Harris, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry and Shania Twain for those auditions.

"We are thrilled to have Ellen DeGeneres join the 'American Idol' judges’ table this season," says FOX's President for Alternative Programming Mike Darnell. "She is truly one of America’s funniest people and a fantastic performer who understands what it’s like to stand up in front of audiences and entertain them every day. We feel that her vast entertainment experience – combined with her quick wit and passion for music – will add a fresh new energy to the show."