A 10 Fact Salute to Casey Kasem

Image credit: 

Earlier this week the venerable Kemal Amin Kasem, better known to radio listeners as Casey Kasem, announced that he was stepping down from his weekly countdown show. The Detroit native has done a lot of other voiceover work in addition to small acting roles in his 77 years, but he'll no doubt always be remembered as the voice of American Top 40. Here are 10 quick Casey facts everyone should know, countdown-style:

10.  Casey's relationship with Scooby-Doo (and Why he Left the Franchise!)

Believe it or not, Casey had provided the voice of "Shaggy" on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? from the show's inception in 1969 but left the series in 1995 after a beef over a Burger King commercial. Kasem had become a vegan and could not in good conscience promote the consumption of hamburgers. He came back to the fold in 2002 when producers made the Shaggy character a strict vegetarian.

9.  What band's popularity did Casey woefully misjudge?

When introducing "Pride (In the Name of Love)," U2's first U.S. top 40 single, Casey began reading a lengthy introduction/explanation: "That's the letter "˜U' and the numeral two"¦.The four-man band features Adam Clayton on bass, Larry Mullen on drums, Dave Evans, nicknamed "˜The Edge', on"¦ this is bull----!  Nobody cares! These guys are from England, who gives a (bad word)?!" For the record: The band actually hails from Ireland, and they did go on to sell a few million records in the years to come.

8. Have any Casey mistakes made it to the actual American Top 40 broadcast?

A couple. For example, during the first hour of a January 1976 broadcast, Casey mentioned that Simon and Garfunkel's "The Sounds of Silence" was the number one song exactly 10 years ago. Then, during the second hour of the show he said the same thing about the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out." He also related a back-story about Paul Revere and the Raiders' "Indian Reservation" that later turned out to be a complete fabrication made up by the song's composer, John D. Loudermilk.

7. When did AT40 debut?

Casey first counted "˜em down on July 4, 1970. The show was broadcast on only a handful of stations at the time, and listeners had to wait an anxious three hours before finding out that the number one hit in the nation that week was "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" by Three Dog Night.

6. What was the first Long Distance Dedication?

The LDD debuted in August 1978. A man wrote Casey requesting a special song for his girlfriend, Desiree, who was moving to Germany to live with her family on an Air Force Base. The bereft boyfriend's song request? "Desiree" by Neil Diamond, natch.

5. What is Casey's connection to The Price is Right?

Picture 12Casey and his wife Jean (you may remember her as squeaky-voiced "Loretta Tortelli" on Cheers) are the co-owners of the Little Miss Liberty Round Crib Company. Their designer baby cribs (named after their daughter Liberty) frequently pop up as prizes on America's favorite game show. If you never manage to get into a Showcase Showdown but still have a hankering for a $700 baby bed, Little Miss Liberty Cribs are available in retail shops as well.

4. What song made it to number one without Casey ever mentioning its title during its ascent up the chart?

That honor goes to George Michael's 1987 hit "I Want Your Sex." Even though he was very liberal in his politics, Casey was conservative when it came to AT40 and he just couldn't bring himself to articulate this title over the air. Instead he simply announced something along the lines of "here's the latest hit by George Michael" each week the tune remained in the Top 40. (Luckily Shadoe Stevens was hosting the show by the time 2 Live Crew's "Me So Horny" hit the charts.)

3. Wait a minute "“ Casey wouldn't say "I Want Your Sex"? Isn't this the same guy who cussed out U2?

Yes, but he didn't do that over the air. That little tirade was an outtake that somehow leaked out of the studio. And whatever his objections may have been to the title of George Michael's song, he still dutifully announced Rod Stewart's "Ain't Love a Bitch" during the late Spring of 1979.

 2.  How did radio stations around the world get AT40 "“ was it via satellite feed or what?

During the Casey era, each installment of AT40 was pressed on to vinyl LP records (usually four per show) and mass-mailed to subscribing radio stations. Every now and then listeners in certain markets would hear a "skip" during the show caused by a scratch in the record.

 1.  What's the deal with the infamous "Snuggles" rant?

Picture 1During the September 14, 1985, countdown the Pointer Sisters lively hit "Dare Me" had just finished playing when Casey began reading a Long Distance Dedication. A listener had written a poignant story about the death of his dog, Snuggles, and had requested that Casey play the Henry Gross song "Shannon" in tribute. What listeners didn't know was that it took several "takes" to get that segment recorded properly, because Casey had trouble getting into the properly somber mood after an up-tempo song. The tape was still rolling when he launched into a profanity-laced tirade directed at his engineer and producer. That rant didn't make it on the air until years later when it became a staple of morning radio drive-time shows looking for a laugh. You can hear it here, but be forewarned "“ the language is not suitable for the workplace, young children, grandma or family pets.

 

If you can type while keeping your feet on the ground and reaching for the stars, we'd love to hear your own Casey memories.

More from mental_floss...

July 11, 2009 - 3:44am
submit to reddit