Casey Kasem Signs Off For the Last Time

My Date Every Weekend

Farewell, Casey

Broadcasting lost a legend today. Radio, TV and voiceover star Casey Kasem — best known as the heart, soul, and voice of American Top 40 — died in Gig Harbor, WA at the age of 82.

Kemal Kasem was born in Detroit in 1932. He built a solid career in radio and voiceover work. He worked at KRLA in Los Angeles for seven years before launching the program that changed the face of pop music history and trivia. American Top 40 debuted in 1970. Casey created the show with Don Bustany, Tom Rounds, and Ron Jacobs. His love of music, soothing voice, and sense of whimsy perfectly anchored the show. I remember listening to him from as early as 1971 (when I was five). I became fascinated with the stories that went along with the music. My obsession with research and trivia started with my family’s natural curiosity and grew with Casey’s clever use of anecdote, history, and statistics.

Me during the early days of AT40

Me during the early days of AT40

A major media presence, Casey voiced many commercials, provided voices for Sesame Street characters, and voiced cartoons. I was shocked when I found out that he was the man behind Shaggy on Scooby-Doo, one of my favorite cartoons. He was also the voice of Robin, the Boy Wonder on Super Friends. Given my obsession with Robin, my fondness for Casey only grew. I was anchored to the radio almost every Saturday of my teen years, enjoying the wonders of pop music. Casey hosted AT40 until 1988, leaving just as I graduated college and stopped listening to pop radio.

Casey retired from broadcasting about five years ago, enjoying a quiet life with his wife, actress Jean Kasem. He was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, a condition similar to Parkinson’s, last year. The disease silenced his mighty voice and he died peacefully today.

I’ll sign off with Casey’s inspirational AT40 closing: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” Farewell, Casey, and thank you.

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Time Capsule: It Was 30 Years Ago This Week

My Date Every Weekend

While I was growing up, I thought Casey Kasem had the best job in the world. I was fascianated by the Billboard charts and loved to listen to American Top 40. All of my family and friends had to arrange their schedules around my ability to listen to Casey’s show each weekend. (Okay, I was an obsessive kid…) I learned my love of trivia and pop culture from these shows, and my head is still full of the facts, figures, and fables Casey shared.

Each week, in celebration of those days, Music and Meaning will note the Billboard champs from 30 years ago. Why 30? It’s my nostalgia, of course. The music I most associate with growing up is the hits of the early 80s. Join me every Saturday (give or take) as we revisit them.

And remember, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!”

RELATED: I also wrote this celebration of Casey after his death in June 2014 and this rebuttal to a critic who seriously underestimated the power of AT40.

PS: As of August 5, 2016, I am no longer writing regular posts for this blog, including Time Capsules. After five years, I find my time and focus are needed elsewhere. I will post occassionally when inspired. Thanks for reading and listening!

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