On Sunday June 15 one of my life long idols, Casey Kasem, passed away.
Although he'd been suffering from Parkinson's disease for many years and has been retired since 2009. He was still and still is a constant influence in my life.
It was the summer of 1973 that I started listening to Kasem's radio show "American Top 40" on the radio.
I was already dedicated to the dream of one day becoming a radio DJ. Listening to Kasem countdown the biggest hits in America according to Billboard magazine for four hours each week only added fuel to my fire. I wanted to be just like him. He was the king in a realm in which it was very difficult to succeed much less conquer like he had.
His voice, personality, and story telling ability, served as examples and inspirations that helped me develop my own style that is a part of my life to this day. All the Rewind shows I've made over the years are basically my personal stories recorded in a format inspired by Casey Kasem.
While he may not written the script or done the research for all the stories for the AT40 shows; Casey Kasem's delivery is what made them come to life. His work is timeless and continues to be heard by millions by way of satellite radio.
On weekends the 70's channel on Sirius/XM radio replays the AT40 shows from that decade. As I listen to them on my way to church on Sunday mornings I enjoy the "behind the scene" stories he tells about the hits. I feel the sentiment and sincerity that accompanies every "long distant" dedication.
I'd like to share with you a recording I made a few months ago while listening to an AT40 show from 1978.
I don't even know if I heard this story when it was originally broadcast. But now that I live about 20 miles from the town where it happened I think the story is very interesting.
The audio is not the best but if you turn up the audio or listen through head phones you'll be able to hear it.
Here is a link:
Rod Stewart Scam In Kentucky
Although a rather popular sound bite of Kasem's out take rant during the recording of an American Top 40 has made it's rounds over the years and seems to show that perhaps he took himself a little too seriously; I'd like to take a stand in his defense.
The time and circumstances of that recording are not common knowledge. Perhaps Kasem was under a lot of stress at the time or was just having a bad day. That can happen to anyone; especially in the radio business.
I'd like to spotlight a You Tube video that is a counter to the outtake audio. It's from 1993 during the early days of the Late Show with David Letterman on CBS. It shows that Casey Kasem never really took himself or his career as America's Countdown king seriously. I think its a much better representation of his public persona.
Casey's Letterman Top Ten
There were a couple of other things I will always remember about Casey Kasem. His career was multifaceted.
In addition to being the DJ voice of my generation he was the voices of several cartoon characters first introduced to my generation as well.
If you check out Kasem's IMDB profile you'll see an exhaustive list of the voice work he did throughout the years. His most famous roles were Shaggy in the Scooby Doo cartoons and Robin in the Super Friends series.
I really liked his role in the 1971 Rankin Bass Easter special, Here Comes Peter Cottontail.
Finally, one of Casey's most admirable charitable involvements was with the annual Jerry Lewis MDA telethon. A broadcast that was an event every Labor Day in my house when I was growing up.
Kasem would be take on the duties of telethon announcer and second banana to Lewis during the times Ed McMahon was not there.
Most of the time that was during the over night hours of the broadcast. The very same hours I took pride in staying up and watching when I was a teenager.
As you can see I was a very big fan of Casey Kasem. And although he's gone he's always going to live on in my heart and in my memory.
I guess the most appropriate way to end this last long distance dedication of thanks to Casey Kasem is a quote of his own signature sign off.
It's a catch phrase that encouraged his fans to go for their dreams while staying within the realm of reality.