Casey Kasem, Longtime American Top 40 Host, Voiceover Actor, Dead At 82
Industry, Fans Mourn His Passing
June 15, 2014 at 10:34 AM (PT)
Following months of legal family wrangling over his care and access to seeing him, ALL ACCESS is deeply saddened to report that the legendary CASEY KASEM, who was literally the voice of a generation as host and co-creator of the AMERICAN TOP 40 syndicated radio show, has died on FATHER's DAY (6/15) at age 82 after complications from Lewy Body Dementia, a degenerative condition similar to Parkinson's Disease.
KERRI KASEM @KerriKasem Tweeted the sad news: "Early this Father’s Day morning, our dad Casey Kasem passed away surrounded by family and friends. Even though we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are heartbroken. Thank you for all your love, support and prayers. The world will miss Casey Kasem, an incredible talent and humanitarian; we will miss our Dad. With love, Kerri, Mike and Julie."
KERRI also has posts about her dad, on her FACEBOOK PAGE.
KASEM, born APRIL 27th, 1932 in DETROIT, MI. to LEBANESE DRUZE parents, had a given first name of KEMAL. KASEM attended WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY in DETROIT.
Drafted into the US Army in 1952, KASEM was a DJ for the ARMED FORCES RADIO NETWORK while serving in KOREA. There were stops in CLEVELAND, BUFFALO and LOS ANGELES before his fame would grow exponentially. On JULY 4th, 1970, AMERICAN TOP 40 was born. KASEM would later say that first show took 18 hours to record and had only seven affiliates.
He hosted the weekly countdown until 1988, and again from 1998 to 2004, when RYAN SEACREST succeeded him.
On his last broadcast of AMERICAN TOP 20, one of two AC spinoffs he hosted until 2009, KASEM reflected on the beginnings of AT40, saying "DON [BUSTANY, longtime business partner] and I believed, and so did a growing number of listeners."
The countdown featured the popular segment "Long Distance Dedication." But KASEM said it wasn't part of the show until 1978 when a staffer found the letter in the mail. Over the years, more than 3,000 dedications were read on the show. At the height of his popularity -- the 1980s -- KASEM took a version of his syndicated radio countdown to TV. He used the burgeoning music video craze on AMERICA'S TOP 10.
His signature line was "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."
KASEM's voice wasn't only familiar for spinning records. He was an accomplished voice-over artist. KASEM was heard on numerous commercials and on the NBC-TV promos in the 1980s. But he was predominantly known as the voice of SHAGGY on the SCOOBY-DOO cartoons, a role he maintained for 40 years.
In 1985, KASEM was inducted into the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BROADCASTERS HALL OF FAME.
He is survived by a second wife, actress JEAN KASEM, a daughter, LIBERTY, and three children, MIKE, JULIE, and KERRI from his first marriage. KASEM's final months were marred by legal disputes between family members.
In his goodbye to radio fans in 2009, KASEM said, "Success doesn't happen in a vacuum. You're only as good as the people you work with and the people you work for. I've been lucky, I've worked for and with the very best."
ALL ACCESS Pres./Publisher JOEL DENVER noted, "CASEY's death marks the passing of one of the truly innovative radio personalities of our time. CASEY brought to life the magic of AMERICAN TOP 40 to millions for years, and with that show, he created an indelible and beautiful spotlight on the importance of music and radio for generations of listeners. I had the pleasure of knowing and working with CASEY when we both recorded our respective shows for WESTWOOD ONE, and he was always a gentleman, who had a big and caring heart. Rest in peace, CASEY."
Comments From The Industry About Casey's Passing
CLEAR CHANNEL NETWORKS President Darren Davis said, "People all over America have fond memories of CASEY counting down the best songs each week. I can vividly remember listening to AMERICAN TOP 40 each Sunday morning when I was a kid, and CASEY's polished style and dedication to his craft helped me fall in love with radio. He was a true gem, and I'm grateful I got to meet him several times over the years. CASEY was such a wonderful man."
In a statement, PREMIERE NETWORKS said, "On behalf of everyone at PREMIERE NETWORKS, we offer our sincerest condolences to CASEY KASEM's family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this most difficult time. One of the most recognizable voices in radio and television, Casey set a gold standard for all broadcasters as the creator and host of AMERICAN TOP 40 for nearly 40 years, and he set the bar even higher outside the studio with his dedication to numerous charitable causes. While we're deeply saddened to say good bye to our dear friend, CASEY's legacy will live on in the hearts of his millions of fans worldwide."
Former WESWOODONE Founder/Chairman, and current PODCASTONE CEO NORM PATTIZ told ALL ACCESS, "In the early days of WESTWOOD ONE we realized the we had to deliver the super stars in the radio business. That list started with CASEY. CASEY's AMERICAN TOP 40 brought all his listeners and fans to us but as important was the experience of working with a living legend who's talent and work ethic were second to none. Radio has lost an irreplaceable link to what was the best we had to offer."
President/Strategic Programming And Acquisition, THE TRIBUNE COMPANY, SEAN COMPTON said, "CASEY KASEM was the definition of a gentlemen. I was a kid with big radio dreams growing up in a small INDIANA town, it was CASEY's AMERICAN TOP 40 that became a constant part of my listening routine each weekend. By the time I was in my mid-twenties I had the privilege of working with him and more importantly becoming a friend. When my wife was pregnant with my first son, I heard from CASEY every week asking me how she was doing and when my first son arrived it was CASEY who was one of the first to congratulate us.
"Professionally, CASEY was loyal, not one show ended in his 39 years of hosting America's most listened to program without him giving credit to his co-creators and entire producing staff. CASEY was a perfectionist, it took him 18 hours to track his first 3 hour countdown, he read and edited every script in great detail. He was a great businessman and knew his value. He also never used his platform to promote a personal agenda or show favoritism. Personally, CASEY was humble, funny and a great father to his children. I'm sad that we no longer have CASEY KASEM with us but grateful he lived a long wonderful life that made our lives better."
We also invite you to leave your comments about CASEY below.
The NEW YORK TIMES has a short video of CASEY's early days here:
And, here is the audio of CASEY's KASEM's Final American Top 20 broadcast