Tuesday, June 17, 2014


In the world of radio and voice-over work, there are few instances where one voice dominated the pop culture of a generation like Casey Kasem. From the late 60s through the 90s, his voice was everywhere.

Besides American Top 40 & American Top 10, Casey was the voice on NBC's promos in the 70s and 80s. His voice was in many of Generation X's favorite cartoons. Among those characters he voiced was Robin the Boy Wonder on The Superfriends, Alexander on Josie and the Pussycats, Dexter and Tank on Hot Wheels, Groovy on Cattanooga Cats, nephew Waldo on What's New, Mr. Magoo?, Mark on Battle of the Planets, Cliffjumper, and Teletraan 1 on The Transformers and, of course, Shaggy on Scooby Doo.

The thing that made Casey Kasem popular was his voice was friendly and his attitude was positive. So was his show. It was all inclusive. Instead of calling the show Billboards Top 40, Casey named the show American Top 40 to signify that these were the songs everyone in the nation was listening to and buying.  Yet Casey was talking to YOU and telling YOU that there were kids in other towns in America that liked the same songs that YOU did. If you felt alone in the world, Casey reassured you that you were not alone.

Casey spoke of the artist in an upbeat, positive tone. His story's about their lives made them sound like friends and relatives not "enemy combatants," as one former co-worker of mine referred to one popular musical act (He later got in trouble for making fun of a popular singer's death). In the "The AT-40 Archives," Casey gave us a history lesson and peak our interest in the music of the past. Of course, the "Long Distance Dedications" proved that you could connect to anyone in the world by simply writing to Casey and he would tell everyone with the same importance as the stories he told about the musical artist.

Sadly, the radio industry decided in the late 80s to destroy the all inclusive world Casey inhabited. Radio stations edited heavy metal and rap songs out of the countdown because they "weren't on out playlist." The major radio syndicators began trying to attract disgruntled old white men with shows preaching an "us-against-them" mentality filled with hate and intolerance.

You might say Casey Kasem's era ended long before his death this week. Radio killed his style of Top 40 and Saturday morning cartoons are gone. Luckily, we have Scooby Doo and Superfriends on DVD, as well as AT-40 repeats on some retro radio stations and through ITunes. Maybe someone will say, "We need a radio personality like Casey Kasem. He was great."

Until then, remember Casey's advice, "Keep you feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."       

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