Thank You, Casey Kasem

Few people inspired my career in media more than Casey Kasem, who died today at 82.

Back in the 1980s, when I was a pre-teen and teenager, I listened to his weekly American Top 40 countdown every chance I got. If I was in the car with my parents when it was on, I silently dreaded the prospect of reaching our destination before Casey had finished counting them down. I even remember being at a friend’s birthday party and being so distracted by the countdown in the background that I sneaked into the room where the radio was playing to catch a few of Kasem’s introductions.

Kasem had a great voice and an iconic delivery—if you loved pop music, no one did it better. If he was before your time, these audio clips will give you a sense of his style.

Due more to Casey Kasem than anyone else, I wanted to go into radio. That desire led me to major in media arts and get my first post-college job at a small radio station in Frederick, Maryland.

In the mid-90s, the station allowed me to host its annual New Year’s Eve countdown, the Top 103 of 1995 and 1996. I took the task seriously, writing Kasem-like introductions for all 103 songs. For those two nights, I got to live my childhood dream of playing Casey Kasem.

Casey Kasem

I saved my air check tape from the countdown on December 31, 1995. Here’s me, trying to channel the great Casey Kasem by introducing the number one song of the year:

Without Kasem, I’m not sure I would have been as inspired to go into radio. Without radio, I wouldn’t have gotten my first job in journalism. Without journalism, I wouldn’t have gone into media training. It’s possible I would have landed in the same place without him, but it would have required a different path to get there. 

So thanks, Mr. Kasem. You kept me entertained for years, and may have even altered my life’s course.

Do you have memories of listening to Casey Kasem? Please leave your memories in the comments section below.

Photo credit: Alan Light, Wikimedia Commons