American Top 40

With Casey Kasem

80’s-6a-10 Saturdays

70’s-3p-6p Sundays

 

Join us as we take a year from this week in the 70’s or 80’s and count them back with superstar Casey Kasem

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CASEY KASEM BIOGRAPHY

Casey Kasem was one of the most recognizable voices in radio and television.  Millions of fans around  the  world  still  find  his  name  synonymous  with  musical  countdowns.    Today, Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 - The 70’s and Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 -The 80’s continue to be distributed and broadcast by Premiere Networks on more than 200 radio stations around the world, as well as on Sirius-XM SatelliteRadio.          In 2009, after 39 years as the “King of the Countdowns,” Kasem stepped down as host of American Top 20 and American Top 10, and in 2003, he retired from the helm of American Top 40 – the show he created in 1970 that became the gold standard of music programming.          Kasem’s friendly, “crackling” voice style took him to the top of his profession.  The man, who once dreamed of being a baseball player but ended up as a radio sports announcer instead, was the youngest member ever inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.  He has his own star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame.  In 1997, Billboard magazine honored him with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.  Kasem was honored with the first ever “Radio Icon” award at the Radio Music Awards in 2003.  He also received the first “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Clear Channel Communications, parent company of Premiere, in 2004.          Kasem  also  released  his  own  series  of  music  CDs  entitled, Casey  Kasem  Presents America’s Top Ten Through The Years, highlighting 20 top ten hits from each decade of the rock and roll era, the 1950s – 1990s.         Throughout his career, Kasem worked as a character actor in films and television.  He has voiced  countless  commercials  and  Saturday  morning  cartoon-show  characters,  including  the voice of Shaggy in the evergreen Scooby Doo television and film franchise.               All this is a long way from when young Kemal Amen Kasem, son of Lebanese Druze parents, was a sportscaster for his Detroit high school’s radio club.  It was a short hop to radio acting.  While majoring in speech and English at Wayne State University, he landed roles in national shows like “The Lone Ranger” and “Sergeant Preston of the Yukon.”  During military service in Korea, he coordinated and acted in radio drama on the Armed Forces Network.

 

 A  civilian  again  in  1954,  Kasem  became  a  disc  jockey,  moving from  Detroit  to Cleveland, Buffalo, Oakland and eventually Los Angeles. The easy-going vocal style that was his trademark came about as the result of a station manager in Oakland telling him to change his format from wild, improvised comedy characters – just minutes before he was to go on the air. With only moments to spare and still stuck for a new format idea, he spied a discarded magazine, Who’s Who  in  Pop  Music,  1962,  in  a  trash  barrel  at  the  studio.    It  was  full  of  facts  about recording artists – exactly what he needed.  That night he began telling stories about the true lives of popular musicians – teased with lead-ins a few minutes before each story was told.  This “teaser/bio”  format  became  a  familiar  part  of American  Top  40  and  a  standard  in  the  radio industry.        Away  from  radio,  Kasem  co-hosted  Jerry  Lewis’  annual Labor  Day  Telethon  for  the Muscular  Dystrophy  Association  beginning  in  1981.    He  received  the  prestigious  Founder’s Award for aiding Danny Thomas’ St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.  A vegetarian, he did TV spots and specials aimed at combating alcohol abuse, drunk driving and hunger, as well as a major campaign against smoking for the National Cancer Institute.        Kasem was a member of FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting).  He spent much of his time after 1986 calling the entertainment industry’s attention to ethnic stereotyping.  He also helped promote and support workshops like the Cousins Club that brings Arabs, Jews and others together  to  discuss  conflict  resolutions.    Kasem  aided  the  Great  Peace  March  in  the  U.S.A. (1986), and participated in the American-Soviet Walk to End an Arms Race Nobody Wants, held in the U.S.S.R. (1987).  He returned to Moscow in 1992 to emcee a pop music concert on behalf of the Children of Chernobyl charity project.        His alma mater, Wayne State University, presented him with its “Distinguished Alumni” award.    He  received  the  1989  “Martin  Luther  King  Drum  Major”  award  from  the  Southern Christian  Leadership  Conference  and,  in  1990,  the  NAACP’s  “Image”  award  and  the  “Ellis Island Medal of Honor” award.        Kasem passed away on June 15, 2014.  He is survived by his four children and his wife Jean, an actress who co-starred in the 1987 NBC-TV comedy series “The Tortellis.”