Kara DioGuardi Speaks Out on Paula Abdul: “I Never Was Here to Replace Her”

Kara DioGuardi is still shocked that Paula Abdul has quit American Idol after eight seasons.

"I can't get over it. I'm completely shocked," she said on Ryan Seacrest's KIIS-FM radio show Friday. "It's such a loss for the show, such a loss for the contestants. She's definitely the heart of the panel."

"The kind of heart she treated the contestants with she treated me with last year," said DioGuardi, who added that she was "scared" joining the show last season. "She was so kind to me and made me feel immediately like part of the panel."

DioGuardi added that she hopes Abdul "will reconsider" her decision to leave.

"I've left her a lot of messages. I talked to her last week," DioGuardi said. "I haven't spoken to her this week." DioGuardi shot down speculation that she was hired last season as an insurance policy against Abdul in case she leaves.

"The way I'm understanding it is that it was her choice to leave," DioGuardi said of Abdul. "I never was here to replace her. It would be impossible to replace Paula Abdul. She's an incredible talent. She is somebody who helped make the show as big as it is. How could you ever replace that?"

"If anything, she was really somebody who helped me because it was awkward at times being the fourth person," she added.

DioGuardi – who is in Denver Friday to begin auditions – said she is excited to return to the show alongside Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson for a second season, calling Idol "an incredible show." Said the new judge, "Last year, it was tough at times.

Being the new kid, you get beat up a bit. I'm hoping this year that people are more accepting." On Thursday, Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice said producers are currently looking for a fourth judge to replace Abdul. (Katy Perry and Victoria Beckham are among the guest judges who have signed on.)

Abdul – who left show because she reportedly she didn't get her desired $20 million deal – isn't sweating the fact that she is out of a job. "At this point, there are so many wonderful things that are being offered to me," Abdul told the Associated Press Thursday. "And I got to take a deep breath, sleep a little … and go through everything."

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