For years the voice of radio host Casey Kasem could be heard weekly announcing the countdown for “American Top 40” across the country. Kasem, who entertained generations of fans, has passed away at the age of 82.
Kasem’s daughter, Kerri Kasem, made this announcement on her Facebook page.
“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.”
Kasem was hospitalized in Washington state at the beginning of June after his health declined.
“American Top 40” aired weekly since starting in 1970. Kasem’s highly identifiable voice was a trademark of the show, which entertained millions of fans. He played the country’s top-selling singles, offering nuggets of information about the songs and performers and the occasional “long-distance dedication” from a fan. He is remembered for his signature closing advice:
“Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
The show ran until 1988 and was revived by Kasem in 1998 after hosting versions with other titles in the interim. Ryan Seacrest took over the franchise in 2004.
Born Kemal Amin “Casey” Kasem on April 27, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan, Kasem grew up as a son of Lebanese immigrants, who worked as grocers. Kasem went on to graduate from Wayne State University and was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952 and then sent to Korea, where he was a DJ/announcer on the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network. After serving in the military, his professional radio career started in the mid-1950s in Flint, Michigan.
He worked for several different radio stations across the country, but developed his rock-trivia persona from his work as a disc jockey in the early 1960s at KYA in San Francisco, and KEWB in Oakland, California.
Kasem was featured in some low-budget movies in the 60s before launching his “American Top 40” program on July 4, 1970. He also did extensive voiceover work, including commercials and cartoon characters, most memorably as Norville “Shaggy” Rogers from the “Scooby-Doo” series.
Kasem was a member of both the National Radio Hall of Fame and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 27, 1981 (his 49th birthday) and was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1992.
Kasem was also an outspoken advocate on issues. A member of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, he was critical of Hollywood’s portrayal of Arabs in film. His activism was not limited. In 1989, he told then-USA TODAY columnist Larry King that one of his “proudest moments” was being arrested for protesting a nuclear weapons installation. “I’d do it again, gladly,” Kasem told King.
From all of us at Nuke the Fridge, “Rest in Peace Casey!”