Legendary radio deejay Casey Kasem served as the host of the countdown show American Top 40 from 1970 to 2009. His signature signoff was “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” He may be even better known as the voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo from 1969 to 1997. Kasem died this morning of complications of a dementia condition.
Kasem loosely based his countdown format on the 1950s TV program Your Hit Parade. More than just spinning singles, he blended a mix of trivia, dedications, requests and artist information as he counted down the Top 40 each weekend. His first No. 1 song? Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come.”
Kasem said he wanted to be the “voice of the guy next door,” and his style was to accent the positive, considering each one of the hits a major accomplishment for each act involved. He never focused on the negative, such as a big drop-off for a particular song, and remained family-friendly. His shows also tugged at the heartstrings with such elements as "Long Distance Dedications."
“I feel good that you can be going to synagogue or church and listen to me, and nobody is going to be embarrassed by the language that I use, the innuendo,” he told the Chicago Tribune in 1986. “It’s just not my style ... quite frankly, I think we’re good for America.”
Kasem also appeared in movies and hosted television programs as well. In the past few years, Kasem had suffered from progressive dementia, and lately his care was the subject of a feud between his second wife and his three children. Kasem was 82.
(Image credit: Alan Light)