Casey Kasem, Radio Icon, Dies At 82
Casey Kasem, whose weekly American Top 40 countdown made his voice familiar to millions, died today at age 82. His daughter Kerri Kasem wrote on her Facebook, "Early this Father’s Day morning, our dad Casey Kasem passed away surrounded by family and friends."
She added, "Even though we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are heartbroken. Thank you for all your love, support and prayers. The world will miss Casey Kasem, an incredible talent and humanitarian; we will miss our Dad. "
The 82-year-old radio personality, who was suffering from Parkinson's, was at the center of a heated battle between Kasem's children and his second wife Jean Kasem that intensified when Jean Kasem removed Kasem from a Santa Monica treatment facility last month. (Apparently Jean Kasem's actions, taking her husband from the Santa Monica nursing home, endangered his life.) The elderly man was found in Washington state, and when Kerri Kasem went to see her father, Jean Kasem threw raw hamburger meat at her.
Kerri Kasem was ultimately granted authority to make medical decisions about her father and she made the decision to withhold medication, fluids and food for her father last Wednesday, explaining, "Transitioning our father's treatment to comfort-oriented care was one of the hardest decisions we've ever had to make... For people who do not understand the natural dying process: Giving food and water to a dying body creates pain and further suffering. The body does not want or require food or water anymore in the dying process. My father can no longer digest foods and fluids fill his lungs up and will suffocate him. My Dad IS on pain meds."
Born in Detroit as Kemal Amen Kasem to Lebanese parents, he started his radio career in high school and then was in radio dramas at Wayne State University. From the Hollywood Reporter's obituary:
Since his first broadcast from Hollywood on seven stations on July 4, 1970, to his finale on the same holiday weekend in 2009, the peppy Kasem ended each American Top 40 show with his signature line: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” 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.”
And here's his last number one: