The radio industry has lost an icon. Casey Kasem, host of “American Top 40” and one of the most endearing hosts in radio history, passed away this weekend at the age of 82.
Kasem’s husky voice lent itself perfectly to the radio medium, where he hosted the terrific countdown show “American Top 40” from 1970-1988, and then again from 1998-2004. Kasem often incorporated trivia about the artists as he introduced their songs, and I have fond memories of listening to “American Top 40” when I was a kid and learning interesting facts about the musicians I was into at the time. I wasn’t the only one who loved listening to him: Kasem earned a spot in the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1992, as a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was presented with the Radio Icon award at the 2003 Radio Music Awards.
If Kasem was only known for his work on “American Top 40,” that alone would be an insanely great legacy, but he was also extremely talented when it came to voiceover work, and he provided the voice for Robin in the “Super Friends” animated series in the 1970s and ’80s and the voice of Shaggy in “Scooby-Doo” for nearly thirty years, from 1969-1997.
The last few weeks of Kasem’s life were fraught with legal controversy as his health failed, but I’m sure he’d prefer to be remembered for his work counting down some of the best music of all time and for the connections he facilitated through his “long distance dedications” on AT40. Rest in peace, Mr. Kasem. You’re the first personality I think of when I hear the word “radio.”
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