Sunday, June 15, 2014

Why Casey Kasem Became A Radio Legend

Casey Kasem image
After a lengthy illness, legendary radio countdown show host Casey Kasem has passed away, and another piece of the classic American experience has passed with him. Casey was the longtime host of a number of the most widely syndicated radio shows ever, including the American Top 40 franchise as well as Casey’s Top 40 and Casey’s Countdown, where the weekly top 40 (and later top 20 or top 10) songs were played in reverse order down to number one at the show’s end. Casey was noted for his folksy anecdotes and dedications between the songs, which endeared him to audiences all over the country.

I was lucky enough to spend some time with Casey in his luxurious home in Beverly Hills during the early 90s, and found him to be disarmingly normal, despite being surrounded by the accouterments of wealth. I was actually there to see his wife Jean, whom I was doing a media project for at the time, but Casey took it upon himself to entertain me while she was finishing up another meeting.

One of the things that struck me was that the man was just like his radio show. On the show he would dedicate a song to the little girl in DeMoines who’s puppy ran away, or the guy in San Antonio who just proposed to his girlfriend, and he made you feel that he really did care about these people and was talking directly to them. I saw this first hand when I met him, as Casey went out of his way to find out everything about me; where I was from, where I lived now, what I liked about Los Angeles, and even how I was dealing with the overbearing heat of that particular summer.

When I asked about a beautiful painting on the wall of his living room, he answered the question, but quickly turned the conversation back to me. The questioning didn’t feel anything like he was probing to make sure that I was qualified to work with his wife, since nothing he asked about was professional in nature. It was only what seemed to be his genuine interest in another human being in an effort to keep me from getting bored while waiting for the meeting to start. More on Forbes.

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