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Remembering Casey Kasem – One of My Radio Inspirations

Carlo Allegri – Getty Images

Two years ago when Dick Clark died, everyone in broadcasting and music felt the loss. Dick Clark was a giant of TV, radio, music, and behind the scenes business. But, if I’m being honest, I’m a little young to have fully appreciated Dick Clark. I certainly appreciate his influence on the business, but I grew up after American Bandstand, when Dick Clark had gone from music tastemaker to his game show hosting days and New Years Eve annual duties.

However, I firmly grew up with Casey Kasem.

I have clear memories of Casey Kasem – I can picture showering on Sunday mornings, with the radio blasting American Top 40 in the bathroom.

And in those days, Casey was the show. It wasn’t the show that it is today; with celebrity interviews, entertainment reports, etc. Today, it’s more Entertainment Tonight, then it was more just Casey playing the hits and painting the scene with his words. There weren’t sidekicks and stunts, there was just Casey and the music.

One of my first memories of actually working in the business will always be related to Casey.

I was interning at one of the biggest radio stations in the country, in a New York City skyscraper. I was intimidated and awe struck. On one of my first days I remember seeing a big envelope outside of the Music Director’s office with the colorful “American Top 40 with Casey Kasem” logo on it.

I asked someone what it was. The answer – “oh, that’s next weekend’s show”.

But it was only Tuesday.

It took me a minute to process. Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t actually think that Casey was there every Sunday doing the show, but I just assumed that he was in his Hollywood studio, broadcasting out to all of the affiliates across the country.

Of course, since then, I realize that’s not how it’s worked for a really, really long time.

While I never met the man, he was a huge part of my life in the business. I’ve followed him on the air, he’s followed me, and I’ve locally “produced” his show.

I was sad when Dick Clark died – we all lost a prolific and iconic entertainer.

I’m more personally sad that we’ve lost Casey – he inspired generations of radio people just like me. He may not have been as visible and as cross-platform as Dick Clark (although, don’t forget, Casey originated the voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo, among other cartoon voices).

While I respect Dick Clark and all that he did from afar, I can truly say that Casey Kasem was one of the few individuals who personally inspired me to get into this business.

One of the things that I really think is cool about radio is thinking about the actual science of broadcasting – when the signal is sent out there, it continues to travel forever. So it’s nice to think that somewhere out there, maybe someone far away is hearing a Long Distance Dedication for the very first time.

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