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Casey Kasem



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Casey Kasem

Mention the name Casey Kasem, and music lovers from around the world will think of radio's biggest countdown show. In fact, Casey is the man that set the standard for all countdown shows, with his weekly program American Top 40 with Casey Kasem now on Premiere Radio Networks. Casey's reach is broad, extending to millions of listeners on his radio line-up that also includes American Top 20 with Casey Kasem in two different versions (Adult Contemporary and Hot Adult Contemporary), along with a weekday feature, America's Top Hits with Casey Kasem. From counting down the hits to offering listeners long distance-dedications, Casey's style and approach are summed up in his trademark phrase: "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars." The man who once dreamed of being a baseball player, but ended up as a radio sports announcer in high school, has since become the youngest member ever inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. He has his own star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame. And in 1997, Billboard Magazine presented him with its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award. Clearly, Casey's friendly 'crackling' voice has taken him to the top of his profession.

Over the years, Casey has also worked as a character actor in films and TV shows, as well as countless voice-over commercials and Saturday morning cartoon shows like the long running "Scooby Doo." He has three children by a former marriage, Kerri, Michael and Julie. His wife, Jean, appeared as Loretta in NBC-TV's hit series "Cheers" and co-starred in its spin-off, "The Tortellis." Casey and Jean have a 7-year old daughter, Liberty.

Back in Detroit, while majoring in speech education at Wayne State University, young Kemal Amen Kasem landed acting roles in national radio 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, Casey soon became a disc jockey, work that took him from Detroit to Cleveland, Buffalo, Oakland and eventually Los Angeles.

In Oakland, his station manager told Casey to change his format, dropping improvised, wild-track comedy characters. That same evening, minutes before his next show, still stuck for an idea, Casey found 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. So, he began telling stories about the lives of popular musicians, "teasing" them a few minutes beforehand. This "teaser/bio" format was to become a standard in the radio industry and a familiar part of American Top 40, which originally debuted on July 4, 1970.

Besides being one of the busiest performers, Casey is also involved in many social and humanitarian causes—vegetarianism, anti-smoking campaigns, anti-discrimination projects, etc.—for which he has received numerous honors. Since 1981, he has also participated in Jerry Lewis' annual Labor Day Telethon for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Casey leads a full and active life. His message to each individual is to believe that "I can make a difference"—then get involved. And he sets the example himself.

Most recently he attended and co-emceed a wedding reception in Twin Falls Idaho for his daughter's teacher with Sid Vanderpool, DJzone's Editor. Casey gave the Grand Entrance and Toast new twist with his very memorable voice.

DJzone had a chance to sit with Casey and ask the one question that every DJ has wanted to know, What's up with the little dog story. Casey explained back during a period in the 80s there was a time is was hard to find a good slow song  due to the domination of rock on the charts and he had told his writers not to schedule a rock song before or after his dedications. It might ahve been a ruse and it might have been just poor writing but they had scheduled rock on both counts for his dedication to a little dog that passed away called Fluffy. After a hard day of taping he just blew up and ran through ever explative he could think of. With NBC he had a stated clearly in his contract that any and all outtakes would be destroyed. Well on this day a temp was operating the board and as Casey put it he more than likely just walked out with the little dog clips.

Now a regular stunt used by the likes of Stern, Casey would like people to let sleeping (dead) dogs lie and just loose the clip. "I am always embarrassed when I hear that clip. It was something that was never meant for the public to hear. I was just having a bad day." Although Casey could have pressed letigation against NBC over the outtake he never did. "I could have gotten millions for it. It was just something I did not want to do."


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