I feel sad today and a bit older. That's because Casey Kasem is retiring from his nationally syndicated radio program. In a business that eats 'em up and spits 'em out at a staggering rate Casey Kasem has managed to survive in broadcasting for more than four four decades.
Those of us who have enjoyed his work over these many years will certainly miss his golden voice and the musical knowledge that he brought to the table each week.
For many of us over the age of 50, Casey Kasem's nationally syndicated radio show "American Top 40" was appointment listening back in the 1970's and 1980's. When Casey began the show back in 1970 it was hardly a new idea. "Your Hit Parade" was an extremely popular show on network radio in the 1940's and 1950's. Casey re-worked the concept just a bit and "American Top 40" hit the airwaves on July 4, 1970. I was hooked on the show from the very beginning. During the course of the three hour show that aired in most markets on Sunday mornings Casey would countdown the 40 most popular singles in the U.S.A that week. Casey always provided some interesting tidbits about the tunes he was playing as well as chart information and facts about the artists. And at least once each week Casey would make a "long distance dedication" requested by a listener.
Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" garnered terrific ratings back in the day. This was another "shared experience" that the American people seem to be so lacking in these days. I miss the radio I grew up with and I miss Casey's "American Top 40". Casey Kasem gave up that show quite some time ago. Happily, those classic original broadcasts from 1970-1978 are back on the air courtesy of Premiere Radio networks and can be heard in many markets on oldies stations during the weekend. Meanwhile, "AT40" as it is now called, lives on and is currently hosted quite capably by Ryan Seacrest. Over the past number of years Casey has hosted a show called "American Top 20" featuring the top 20 adult contemporary tunes in the nation. And so while I am sad that he is leaving the scene I want to take this moment to thank Casey for all of those Sunday mornings and all of those hit records he brought us. He is a class act who honed this craft and made himself one of the best in the business. Happy retirement!
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Born to Lebanese immigrants in Detroit, Michigan, Kasem had early dreams of becoming a baseball player and actor. He gave up his athletic ambitions rather quickly and began his DJ career in high school by starting his own sports radio show. While at Wayne State University, Kasem was a radio actor on the “Lone Ranger” and “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon”. His radio career continued while serving in the military in Korea, where he worked with the Armed Forces Radio Service. Upon being discharged, Kasem became a DJ in Detroit, Buffalo, Los Angeles and Cleveland. It was during this time that Kasem pioneered an industry standard: the teaser lead-in. While searching for new ways to format his show, he came upon a discarded magazine containing tidbits about recording artists. Kasem used these bits of information in his next broadcast as lead-ins to the songs he was about to play.
In 1970, Kasem launched “American Top 40”, where he combined his distinctive voice with the nation’s number one hits for ...