From Radio Ink Publisher B. Eric Rhoads
As I walked in the door, my wife was white as a ghost. “You got a call from Casey Kasem. I may have made him mad.”
She explained that when she answered the phone, the voice on the other end said, “Hi, this is Casey Kasem. Is Eric there?” She thought it was a friend pulling a prank, so she said, “Yeah, and I’m the queen of England.” And hung up.
Casey immediately called back, explained that he really was Casey Kasem and left a message, which I later returned. We had a good laugh over it.
The media is in a frenzy at the moment over Kasem, reported missing by his children, who have been in an ongoing and heated battle with Jean Kasem, his wife and their stepmother. Casey, as we all know, has Parkinson’s disease and is reported to be near the end of his life. Jean, who has control of his care and estate, has allegedly prevented the kids from seeing their dad. If that’s true, no one knows the real reason. Some theories have the kids just wanting time with their dad, others claim Jean is an “evil stepmom” keeping the kids from the money, while still others have his children playing the more sinister role.
Frankly, I’m sick of the whole thing. What is a pity is that the family has to play out their drama in the court of public opinion by working the media. They even have me talking about it.
Casey Kasem is an American legend who entertained baby boomers for decades. His is perhaps the most recognizable DJ’s name in history, because his broadcast was on in every market in America and most of the world. (It still airs in repeats on SiriusXM, which I enjoy every Saturday). His iconic status has been great for the radio industry, and now, as the drama plays out, his past visibility is resulting in America’s curiosity over this tragic media circus.
I was not close enough to know the family’s problems, the kids’ issues with Jean, or their issues with her. I suspect however that Casey would be disappointed that his final days are being played out in a soap opera-like drama spread across the news.
I’ve heard theories that it matters where Casey dies and that if he passes away off of U.S. soil, and especially in some tax haven, it may impact the estate, estate taxes, and who controls the estate. This may simply be about legal wrangling for financial gain, or perhaps to keep other potential heirs from making claims.
Few people, if any, know the truth. Kasem’s children claim they simply want access to their dad to spend his last days with him. If their intentions are pure, it’s certainly a reasonable request. As a father, I would want to be surrounded by my kids at the time of my passing, no matter what had happened in their lifetimes regarding our relationship. But I don’t claim to know what has happened in that family — nor do I care, really.
I want to say something directly to Casey. I’ve passed this editorial on to Jean, and we will make sure it gets to the kids as well.
Casey, as a young listener, you inspired me and made me want to get into this fantastic industry we call radio. I think most of us envied the love your audiences had from you from coast to coast. We were all inspired by your magic. You inspired an industry, and those of us in radio will be eternally grateful for the standard of professionalism you created, against which we were all measured. You touched the lives of hundreds of millions, and made radio even more a part of their daily lives. They became your friends, and thus friends to radio.
We as an industry want you to know that you made our industry better, you made our industry stronger, and you made all of us better broadcasters by the example you set. Rarely in times like these do we get a chance to say thank you. Yet I think I speak for all of my sisters and brothers in the radio industry worldwide when I say thank you for making a difference in all of our lives. Please know that your time has been well spent and your effort meaningful to tens of thousands of radio people you’ve never met.
I’m honored to know Casey in my career, and I’d like nothing more than to see this family stop this embarrassing drama and let a great radio broadcaster live his final days in peace.
Publisher of “Radio Ink”