Industry, Fans Mourn the Passing of the Longtime American Top 40 Host and Voiceover Actor
June 15, 2014 at 7:19 AM (PT) courtesy AllAccess.com
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, (at St. Anthony’s Hospital, Gig Harbor, Wash.) 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.”
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.”
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THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’S OBIT ALSO PROVIDES INSIGHTS INTO CASEY’S CAREER.