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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP
City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

Casey Kasem ending his run on radio this weekend

No, Casey Kasem is not dead. But he is doing his final American radio countdown show this weekend.

“Hosting various versions of my countdown program has kept me extremely busy, and I loved every minute of it,” Kasem, 77, said in a statement. “However, this decision will free up time I need to focus on myriad other projects.”

Though he passed the reins of the offical AT40 to former Dunwoody man Ryan Seacrest in 2004 (heard locally on Star 94), Kasem has been doing special spinoff shows for soft rock stations. In Atlanta, he was last heard on Peach 94.9, which became the country station the Bull in late 2006.

But there is a symbolism for him ending his show on July 4. He was the voice that personified American music pop culture through much of the 70s and 80s. His weekly departing line, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars” resonates to this day for anybody in my generation. That avuncular voice, which lives on as Shaggy in Scooby Doo cartoons, is often imitated and still heard on Sirius XM satellite radio’s 70s and 80s stations, where they replay his countdown shows.

He was part of the reason I became addicted to Billboard magazine charts in the early 1980s. Like a lot of radio geeks, I kept three-ring binders of chart information. (And yes, I still have them.)

In New York, as a kid, I’d listen to him on 660/WNBC-AM (and later, Z100) on Sunday mornings, from 1982 until 1987, I’d studiously jot down the top 40 as he counted the songs from 40 to 1. Toto. Journey. Huey Lewis, Prince. I heard songs by dozens of acts for the first time on his show. I got to catch songs that weren’t played much on the stations I listened to at the time. I’d sometimes take a cassette tape and tape songs I liked as well. If I really liked the song, I’d buy the 45 and record the higher-quality sound over the radio version, keeping Casey’s intro intact.

Sure, he was cheeseball in so many ways. His long distance dedications. The way he would say a famous person’s quote, then actually end it by saying, “end of quote.” Those trivia contests where you had to send in your answers — by postcard.

But to me, he was the man, the conduit for my love of music and music charts.

I even got to meet Kasem briefly at a media convention in Los Angeles in 1993. I got a picture taken with him. That’s one of my most treasured memories, scarily enough. I then purchased at a silent auction autographed vinyl record versions of old AT40 countdown shows.

Here is a couple of Youtube videos of his short-lived TV syndicated AT10 I used to watch, too. The first video aired in May, 2003 and Casey actually notes that “Thriller” was No. 1. And he featured one of my favorite songs of all time, Duran Duran’s “Rio.”

This 1983 edition of AT10 below notes that George Clinton was No. 1 on the soul chart and you can see Michael Jackson had “Billie Jean” and “Beat It’ in the top 10 as well.

28 comments Add your comment

Wink

July 2nd, 2009
3:05 pm

I thought I was the only one to write down the AT40 when I was in junior high school. All the other kids thought it was weird.

Dan Greenfield

July 2nd, 2009
4:25 pm

XM’s 70s AT40 replays have been fun to listen to. The older theme music is amusingly dated. It’s especially interesting to hear the evolution from a dry, statistically-based countdown show in 1970-71(in which Casey sounds stiltingly formal) to a trivia/personality-based show in the mid-70s, which was really his contribution to the genre.

There’s also a hilarious bootleg tape that’s been floating around since the early 80s, in which he loses his temper and rips into his studio engineer using language definitely not suitable for a family audience.

Coz109

July 2nd, 2009
4:37 pm

Nothing beats his profanity-laced tirade about the dead dog dedication!

EFloyd

July 2nd, 2009
5:38 pm

We here in Macon have the added bonus of the American Top 40 1970’s edition reruns syndicated on Peach 96.5/102.5 which can be heard from just south of Atlanta to south of Macon on the two frequencies. Also online at peach965 dot com. The shows air on Sunday mornings at 7 and are hosted by Kasey Kasem’s son Mike Kasem.

I enjoy them as well as the broadcasts on XM’s 70’s and 80’s channels.

I love the history they represent, even when Kasem announces the number ones on other charts and the radio stations that aired the show at that time. You would be surprised how many small town stations and old AM stations from back in the day that aired the program.

I am such a geek when it comes to the top 40 radio show, not so much for writing down the lists. I actually spent money on the Billboard magazine and they were NOT cheap. I wish I saved them.

EFloyd

July 2nd, 2009
5:40 pm

It is worth noting that the very first American top 40 program with Kasey Kasem was broadcast on July 4 1970.

I would really love it if XM ran the original first program from 1970 this weekend. Last weekend they ran one from 1974 and “billy Dont Be a Hero” was the number one song.

And I love the original cheezy but high tech(at the time) theme song.

SS

July 2nd, 2009
6:08 pm

Wow, that brings back some memories. I thought I was the only one who wrote down the songs every Sunday morning. We lived in NJ then and there was a new station like Star 94 that played pop hits who played the countdown on Sunday mornings. I loved Scooby Doo and every Sat morning sat down in front of the tv and watched my cartoons.

Getting Old

July 2nd, 2009
7:24 pm

When I was a kid in the 70’s my parents divorced and AT40 was what got me through the drive between my parents on the weekends. I too was a total junkie. Even though he has been off the air in Atlanta for years I am sad to hear of his retirement.

Complete Game

July 2nd, 2009
10:29 pm

Rodney, what is the real story on his infamous Snuggles blow-up? A bitter ex-engineer? Extortion? I’ve always wondered why there is no public reaction from him on what really happened on the infamous long distance dedication….

Tim Williams (Sydney, Australia)

July 3rd, 2009
2:44 am

Radio 2UW in Sydney (as it was then called) used to run Casey’s “American Top 40″ show in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I was a huge fan, and it was the only way we heard many of the American hits here in Australia because our radio programmers were so obsessed with maintaining a balance of English and American hits and keeping up the local Australian pop music content.
Every great career has to eventually come to an end, and it’s fitting that Casey Kasem should choose to bow out on the 4th. of July.
I’m sure I’m not the only Australian fan who would want to wish Casey well in his retirement.

Christopher Cook

July 3rd, 2009
10:45 am

77 years old and still voicing a teenager.

atl1000

July 3rd, 2009
12:04 pm

i remember listening to AT40 every weekend in west tennessee where i grew up, when the 4 hour countdown seemed to last forever and life was so easy and uncomplicated. it seems i can barely keep up with myself these days much less hear more than a handful of songs on a countdown, although i do manage to catch ‘american country countdown’ from time to time with kix brooks. i believe that show was created by casey as well.

Titans773

July 4th, 2009
3:38 pm

For all XM-Sirius folks, they did play the first AT 40 show from July 4, 1970 today (July 4, 2009). I think it replays one more time Sunday morning at 9 a.m. Eastern on Channel 7.

EFloyd

July 5th, 2009
1:24 am

Yes XM-Sirius did play the first AT40 from 1970

They do replay the show on Sundays at 9am and later Sunday nights around midnight.

I don’t know what episode they will play on the radio in Macon on Sunday morning at 7am, sometimes it is the same broadcast as what XM and Sirius offers, but that is not always the case. But if you can access WWW PEACH965 DOT COM around 7am on Sunday morning, you can hear the AT40 from the 1970’s between 7 and 10am with commercials and a few “extras” not heard on the Satalite radio broadcasts. The commercial radio verision is hosted by Casey Kasem’s son.

EFloyd

July 5th, 2009
7:27 am

In regards to my earlier posts, Actually the program being aired on “American Top 40 The 70s” is a special countdown broadcast of the top 40 women in songs (The 40 most popular girls in song during the rock and roll era), as in song titles featuring female names. I don’t know what year this was broadcast, but it had to be mid 1970’s as so far “Lady Marmalade” and “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” by Elton John have been heard.

I remember they always did a special countdown show on their anniversary weekend during the 4th of July in the 70s.

I am listening to the Sunday morning syndicated rebroadcast of Casey Kasem’s AT40 from the 1970’s on WPCH 96.5-102.5 in the Macon area.

hepwa

July 5th, 2009
11:56 am

I listened to American Top 40 on CKBI in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, every Sunday from about 1977 to around 1983; wrote down every chart, analyzed weeks in top ten, highest debut, biggest mover, all that stuff for years. Even sent in a few long distance dedications (though my friends and I thought they were clever and of course were never read). Casey Kasem was a real part of my childhood and the reason I went into broadcasting out of high school. Happy retirement and keep reaching for the stars.

Dennis Dubay

July 5th, 2009
6:06 pm

>>>>But to me, he was the man, the conduit for my love of music and music charts.

Man. That’s dead on.
Great story.

David Dyer

July 5th, 2009
6:16 pm

>>>>But to me, he was the man, the conduit for my love of music and music charts.

I second that!! Thanks to Kasey, I have been keeping my own personal weekly Top 40 for 30
years now. And like most others here, I too listened to Kasey every Sunday morning. I can’t
even tell you how many times I skipped Church for AT40. : )

moonbeam

July 6th, 2009
11:31 am

Wow! Not since Dick Clark had his stroke and Paul Harvey did have I been so sad! Although I must admit with the easy listening on the internet I have not listened to Casey for years I now realize what a great mistake this has been. I guess I took for granted he’d always be there!
Wow.. so sad.. I feel like an end of an era is happening!
Thanks for all the great years Casey.. wish you all the best in life!!

moonbeam

July 6th, 2009
11:31 am

Wow! Not since Dick Clark had his stroke and Paul Harvey died have I been so sad! Although I must admit with the easy listening on the internet I have not listened to Casey for years I now realize what a great mistake this has been. I guess I took for granted he’d always be there!
Wow.. so sad.. I feel like an end of an era is happening!
Thanks for all the great years Casey.. wish you all the best in life!!

[...] is 77-years-old. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a story on Kasem’s retirement in their media column. Next to his picture, the paper wrote, [...]

[...] weekly countdown program this weekend. Now where will we turn for our long-distance dedications? [Access Atlanta via Movie City [...]

Mark Malinowski

July 7th, 2009
5:43 am

As a former AFRTS announcer, I remember how we eagerly awaited the arrival of the tapes of the latest AT40. It was the one program that everyone looked forward to. It’s not the same without Casey. He is the “gold standard.”

[...] Casey Kasem ending his run on radio this weekend – “Hosting various versions of my countdown program has kept me extremely busy, and I loved every minute of it,” Kasem, 77, said in a statement. “However, this decision will free up time I need to focus on myriad other projects.” [...]

Tony

July 7th, 2009
11:19 pm

I have to make a correction. While WNBC did carry AT40 from July of 1980 until November of 1983, after they dropped it, WPLJ picked it up, not Z100. I remember that happened Thanksgiving weekend and I remember WPLJ keeping the show into the 1990s. WNBC’s signal was a Godsend in many respects as there were areas where their signal reached and there were no other AT40 affiliates in 1980 and ‘81. Philly didn’t get an affiliate until late ‘81, south Jersey would lose their affiliate in Vineland (I believe) by then and the Reading and Lehigh Valley (PA) areas didn’t have one at the time, just to name a few. When our family went to visit North Carolina’s outer banks in the summer of ‘83, I found out I could also pick WNBC up there, too…during the daytime!

Mike Little

July 11th, 2009
1:30 pm

Your style will be missed..I know my time of 70’s & 80’s have gone by way too fast. The style of music never really matter to this man. All it had to be was a great beat & words.The way he presented the stars & others were of positive ways it brought it to radio be it AM music at first to FM….Voice & knowing of the music he played brought a way to know the artist. No matter his age wish he kept a voice out in the airwaves for music..Thanks Kasey…

[...] to realize that, lo, Casey Kasem is still alive. He’s 77 years old, and he officially left the Top 40 countdown last weekend, saying, “this decision will free up time I need to focus on myriad other projects.” I [...]

Cathy

October 8th, 2009
9:06 am

Back in the 70’s when the radio stations received the show for the week it would come in on albums with que tones for the breaks. I was the most popular kid in the neighborhood because my dad worked at a station that aired the show. I didn’t get all the shows but I got many of them and I still have them today.

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February 11th, 2010
2:25 am

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