American Top 40 Casey Kasem July 24 1982 Hours 1 and 2
Kemal Amin “Casey” Kasem (April 27, 1932 – June 15, 2014) was an American disc jockey, radio personality and actor, best known for being the host of the music radio programs American Top 40, American Top 20, and American Top 10 from 1970 until his retirement in 2009, and for providing the voice of Norville “Shaggy” Rogers in the Scooby-Doo franchise from 1969 to 1997, and again from 2002 until 2009.
Kasem founded the American Top 40 franchise in 1970, along with Don Bustany, Tom Rounds and Ron Jacobs, and hosted it from 1970 to 1988 and from 1998 to 2004. Between January 1989 and early 1998, he was the host of Casey’s Top 40, Casey’s Hot 20, and Casey’s Countdown. Also beginning in 1998, Kasem hosted two adult contemporary spin-offs of American Top 40, American Top 20, and American Top 10. Kasem retired from AT20 and AT10 on July 4, 2009 and both shows ended on that day.
In addition to his radio shows, Kasem provided the voice of many commercials; had done many voices for Sesame Street; provided the character voice of Peter Cottontail in the Rankin/Bass production of Here Comes Peter Cottontail; was the voice of NBC; helped out with the annual Jerry Lewis telethon; and provided the cartoon voices of Robin in Super Friends, Mark on Battle of the Planets, and a number of characters for the Transformers cartoon series of the 1980’s. In 2008, he was the voice of Out of Sight Retro Night which aired on WGN America, but was replaced by rival Rick Dees. After 40 years, Kasem retired from his role of voicing Shaggy in 2009, although he did voice Shaggy’s father in the 2010 TV series, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
In the 1940’s, “Make Believe Ballroom” reportedly inspired Kasem to follow a career in radio and later host a national radio hits countdown show.
Kasem was a graduate of Northwestern High School in Detroit and Wayne State University.
Career – 1950’s–1960’s
Kasem, whose professional radio career started in the mid-1950’s in Flint, Michigan, was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952 and sent to Korea, where he was a DJ/announcer on the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network.
As for his recognizable voice quality, “It’s a natural quality of huskiness in the midrange of my voice that I call ‘garbage,'” he stated to The New York Times. “It’s not a clear-toned announcer’s voice. It’s more like the voice of the guy next door.”
Some of Kasem’s early career included acting roles on radio dramas.
He developed his rock-trivia persona from his work as a disc jockey in the early 1960’s at KYA in San Francisco, California, and KEWB in Oakland, California. He also worked for several other stations across the country, including WJW (now WKNR) in Cleveland, Ohio; WBNY (now WWWS) in Buffalo, New York; and KRLA 1110 in Los Angeles, California (1963–69), before launching the national show American Top 40 on July 4, 1970.
During the 1960s Kasem co-hosted a teenage dance show called Shebang on television in Los Angeles. He had a minor record hit himself, called “Letter From Elaina.”
Kasem appeared in some network TV series, including Hawaii Five-O and Ironside. He also featured in several low-budget movies in the 1960’s. In 1967, he played the role of “Mouth” in the motorcycle gang film The Glory Stompers (a precursor to Easy Rider), which also starred Dennis Hopper and two scions of Hollywood royalty Jody McCrea (son of Joel McCrea) and Lindsay Crosby (son of Bing Crosby), along with Chris Noel and Jock Mahoney. In 1969, he played the role of “Knife” in the “surfers vs. bikers” film Wild Wheels, plus he had a small role in another biker movie, The Cycle Savages, starring Bruce Dern and Melody Patterson.
Kasem was best known as a disc jockey, most notably as host of the weekly American Top 40 radio program from July 4, 1970 through 1988, and again from March 1998 until January 10, 2004, when Ryan Seacrest succeeded him. During Kasem’s original run (1970–88), his show featured certain songs in addition to the countdown, such as a “long distance dedication” from one listener to another; or, the song of a “spotlight artist.” On the July 4 weekend of each year, the show’s anniversary, Kasem often featured a special countdown of particular songs from a certain era, genre or artist. The Moody Blues were the only artist to appear in both Kasem’s first countdown on July 4, 1970, and his last on August 6, 1988. Michael Jackson appeared in both countdowns, but as part of The Jackson Five in 1970 and as a solo artist in 1988. Kasem hosted the spin-off television series America’s Top 10 for most of the 1980’s. For a period in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Kasem was the staff announcer for the NBC television network. He later appeared in infomercials, marketing CD music compilations. Kasem received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 27, 1981 (his 49th birthday) and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1992. When he was hosting American Top 40, Kasem would often include trivia facts about songs he played and artists whose work he showcased. Frequently, he would mention a trivia fact about an unnamed singer before a commercial break, then provide the name of the singer after returning from the break. This technique, called a tease, later also made its way into America’s Top 10, where viewers would submit trivia questions for him to answer. In 1971, he provided the character voice of Peter Cottontail in the Rankin/Bass production of Here Comes Peter Cottontail opposite Vincent Price providing the voice of the villainous Iron Tail. Kasem would end both his radio and television broadcasts with his signature sign-off, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
In 1972, Kasem appeared in the low-budget film The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant, which also starred Bruce Dern. In 1984, Kasem made a cameo in Ghostbusters, reprising his role as the host of American Top 40.
From January 1989 to March 1998, when Kasem was not at the helm of AT40, he was host of Casey’s Top 40, Casey’s Hot 20, and Casey’s Countdown, syndicated by the Westwood One Radio Networks. He was also the host of the short-lived American version of 100% during the 1998–9 season, and would close each episode by inviting viewers to join him that weekend on AT40, to which Kasem had just returned.
In August 2006, XM Satellite Radio, now merged with Sirius Satellite Radio, began airing newly restored versions of the original American Top 40 radio show from the 1970s and 1980s. Premiere Radio Networks also started airing reruns of AT40, dating from 1970 to 1988, in January 2007.
On January 3, 2004, Kasem gave up hosting duties of American Top 40, with Ryan Seacrest becoming the new host. Kasem signed a new contract that continued his two American Top 20 shows. That March the adult contemporary version became American Top 10. At the end of the year, Kasem recorded several holiday-themed programs to air on stations that flip to “all-Christmas” for the holidays.
In April 2005, the television special American Top 40 Live aired on the Fox network, hosted by Seacrest, with Kasem appearing on the show.
In November 2007, Kasem’s son Mike became his regular and final substitute host for American Top 20 and American Top 10. In June 2009, Premiere Radio Networks announced it would cease production of the two shows after the Fourth of July holiday, ending Kasem’s 39-year run in the radio countdown business. He briefly appeared on his daughter Kerri’s podcast in late 2009. As of 2014, reruns of 1970’s and 1980’s shows play on a number of U.S. stations.