Yes, it's true: "Stuttering John" Melendez (search), who ambushed celebrities for years on Howard Stern's radio show, will become the announcer for Jay Leno's "Tonight Show." (search

Melendez, who's replacing announcer Edd Hall in late March, will also participate in sketches as a "Tonight Show" correspondent.

"I won't be doing any ambush-celebrity interviews or bowel-movement interviews, which is something that Howard created," Melendez told The Post. "This will obviously be different. I won't be asking Raquel Welch about her sagging chest."

Melendez said he was first approached about joining the "Tonight Show" in March 2003, after his appearance on ABC's "I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here! (search)" in which he was thoughtful and well-spoken. After being kicked off the show, he was invited onto the "Tonight Show," where his appearance went well.

"They wanted me to be a correspondent then, but I didn't really have an answer - I didn't know if it would be OK with Howard . . . and I turned it down," he said.

But after the show called again, Melendez sent a tape of his announcing. "They really liked it and had me come and record some announcements . . . and then it came down to negotiating a contract," he said.

Melendez said he called Stern last Sunday to break the news.

"It couldn't have gone better. He was so happy for me and was completely complimentary . . . We both got all choked up," he said. "We expressed our love for each other and he said, 'C'mon, let's celebrate,' and we went to Atlantic City.

"I spoke to him again [Tuesday] and he reiterated how happy he was for me. Hopefully it will stay that way on Monday [when Stern returns to the air].

"I'm not just kissing Howard's butt - he really did a lot for me."

Melendez, who officially joins the show's staff March 1, will move his wife and two kids out to Los Angeles - and said he's been preparing for his new job.

"I've been going to a vocal coach, the same woman who taught Edd Hall and who teaches the guys who do the movie trailers," he said.

"I never knew how much goes into announcing - every word is analyzed."