“I am Casey Kasem.” and thus began a Sunday ritual for millions of people, who flocked to their radio and transistor sets to listen to “American Top 40.” And for the net 2 hours folks would be glued listening to the program that ended when Kasem signed off with “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
He was the Voice of American music and America’s “tastemaker” for millions of people around the world, especially for those who grew up in the pre-Internet and pre-MTV era. For 40 years Kasem’s smooth & unforgettable voice introduced us to new American music. He knew how to pack interesting teasers and hooks in-between the music tracks that kept a listener’s interest. When you listened to him it was as if he was talking just to you, which is the magic of radio. Kasem knew how to create that magic on radio.
Kasem, 82 passed away today near Seattle, WA. He was born in Mo Town to Lebanese and made a name for himself as a voice artist and radio jockey. In 1970 he started his iconic “American Top 40” from Los Angeles. By many reports Kasem was a stickle for perfection, who did take after take until he got it right. Take a listen to this video clip, where you can hear him try to get it right.
Folks in America and Europe listened to Casey Kasem’s every week on their radio. But, for many people in India we barely got to listen to his live radio show. We listened to him through cassette tapes. Let me explain. Before the 1990s there was barely any TV or radio shows that played American/European pop music in India. Yes, some radio stations played pop music, but generally they were not new music, but old tracks from the 1950s and 1960s. The only way you got to listen to “new” and “happening”music was through Radio Australia or recorded programs of American Top 40 that someone’s uncle, cousin or aunt would tape and send to their family. And that tape would then be passed around and you you got to listen to new music.
Kasem leaves behind a rich radio legacy.
Thank you Casey Kasem for bringing a little bit of music into our lives and brightening it.