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Zoinks for the memories
July 7, 2009 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Casey Kasem, the voice of Shaggy and Robin, and possibly the most prominent Lebanese American vegan in broadcast history, has called it quits from all manner of countdowns. Keep reaching for the stars, Casey, and we'll try not to piss you off.
posted by ericbop (58 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
ahhh, the magic of Youtube. Casey Kasem's + two clicks brings me to Negativland's Car Bomb.
posted by philip-random at 9:30 AM on July 7, 2009


I grew up listening to Casey Kasem and enjoy hearing his voice on the occasional Sirius throwback show but his type of Top 40 countdown is a ghost of the past.
posted by blucevalo at 9:32 AM on July 7, 2009


Oh sweet God for a minute I thought he was dead and I burst into tears.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:32 AM on July 7, 2009 [24 favorites]


So that's what it sounds like to yell "Fucking!" into a fat FM radio tube mic. Smooth!
posted by Liquidwolf at 9:32 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do any stations still carry AT40/20? Not meant as a snark. I'm serious. I can't recall the last time I accidentally stumbled-across AT40/20 on the dial anywhere.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:35 AM on July 7, 2009


I grew up listening to Casey Kasem and enjoy hearing his voice

Distinctive and nostalgic, yes. Enjoy the swoopy way he talks not so much.
posted by DU at 9:35 AM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


One of my favorite memories of radio is being twelve years old and hearing Casey Kasem - who's voice hadn't changed since, when, the sixties? - introduce Cypress Hill's "Insane in the Brain" on the Top 40. It was beautifully surreal.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:36 AM on July 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I wasn't even aware he was still working. The major NYC station dropped him years ago in favor of Seacrest.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:37 AM on July 7, 2009


When I was 18, I once cold called Casey Kasem to ask for money for a political candidate. I was surprised that he answered his own phone and he sounded exactly like he did on the radio. He didn't give. There's no cool ending to this story. Hey, what's that over there?
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:38 AM on July 7, 2009 [11 favorites]


Paul Leary from the Butthole Surfers said the best part about having a number one single was hearing Casey Kasem say their name on the countdown.
posted by Sailormom at 9:41 AM on July 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Guess he finally got fed up with having to come out of an uptempo song with a letter about a fucking dog dying.




that's the letter U, and the numeral 2.
posted by Spatch at 9:44 AM on July 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


We'll all miss you, Casey
We'll all miss your voice
But you want to retire
And you've made your own choice
We'll turn on the radio
You won't be found
The airwaves just won't sound the same again...

IT'S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN!

posted by Faint of Butt at 9:46 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


"These guys are from England and who gives a shit?"
posted by filthy light thief at 9:49 AM on July 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


Wow, American Top 10 (Adult Contemporary) was on 10 stations and American Top 20 (Hot AC) was on 13. Quite a whimper. American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest is on about 80 stations though.
posted by ALongDecember at 9:54 AM on July 7, 2009


Now's your chance, Shadoe Stevens!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:54 AM on July 7, 2009 [12 favorites]


I'm serious. I can't recall the last time I accidentally stumbled-across AT40/20 on the dial anywhere.

Listen to any pop station on a Saturday morning.
posted by smackfu at 9:57 AM on July 7, 2009


Phwew! Not dead.....good.....(wipes brow and catches breath).
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:07 AM on July 7, 2009


I don't blame Casey... all the music on the charts nowadays is stuff like ex-American Idol ballads, "Ma Bitch In Da Club", and various "hey let's use that auto tune processor again" songs.
posted by crapmatic at 10:08 AM on July 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


AT40 was a huge part of my music life in grade school in the 70's, but once I discovered punk and the counterculture I abandoned AT40 and decided that I hated Casey Kasem. Years later I accepted how important his show was to me growing up and that he was actually damn good at what he did. An easy target for mockery, but he knew how to put together one hell of a radio show.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:14 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mr. Kasem is one of the two reasons I went into radio. The other was Dr. Johnny Fever.
posted by jbickers at 10:18 AM on July 7, 2009 [4 favorites]


I do admire Casey's ability to stick to his convictions, like when he approached Hanna-Barbera and requested that Shaggy go vegan just like he did. And all the haunted houses that the gang visited suddenly had a remarkable supply of veggie sausage links and eggplant slices in their haunted kitchens. Not that the kiddies knew, but Casey did and that was what he wanted.
posted by Spatch at 10:22 AM on July 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


I want somebody to use his brain. I don't wanna come out of a goddamn up-tempo FPP with some note about fucking Casey Kasem dying!

(One more sad day for Detroit. .)
posted by klangklangston at 10:24 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


So I was working on the live Radio Hall of Fame broadcast at the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, and Casey Kasem was scheduled to be the host. I was in charge of getting Preston Bradley Hall (the room with the giant Tiffany dome and the crazy acoustics) in the Chicago Cultural Center set up for the event, and I'm there at a ridiculous hour of the morning checking tech stuff for that evening's broadcast.

Now, the Radio Hall of Fame isn't the world's most prestigious event, although it's certainly taken seriously by all involved. We're not talking about Oscar levels of funding or staffing, though, so I'm by myself futzing around with low-end rental gear and making inevitable repairs. There's nobody else around, and the building isn't open to the public yet. While working inside a curtained scaffolding, I hear footsteps, and the sound of someone sitting down and shuffling papers from far on the other side of the room. I think it's the security guard or something, so I keep right on working.

Then, without warning, clear as a bell and filling the room, comes the voice of Casey Kasem: "Good evening, I'm Casey Kasem!" and I damn near fall off the scaffolding. Turns out he's the person I heard walking in, and he proceeds to read the entire broadcast script for the evening, start to finish, with full energy and commitment. I come out and keep working, and he doesn't seem to notice. He gets through the entire script, then does it again, then does it again. It sounds the same each time, consistent and compelling and rock-solid. I look over at him every so often, and were it not his voice, it could have been any older man in a sweater sitting in a chair reading the paper and talking to himself while waiting for his lunch to arrive.

After three runs through the script, he gets up unceremoniously and leaves. I didn't see him again until that evening, and his delivery was more or less identical (and just as compelling) as what he'd rehearsed. Unlike that morning (when he kept entirely to himself and the task at hand) that evening we was outgoing and personable and charming. Nevertheless, morning and evening, he was the consummate professional and impressed the hell out of me.

so glad this isn't a Casey Kasem death thread
posted by davejay at 10:33 AM on July 7, 2009 [21 favorites]


I too, thought this was an obit post. Whew.
posted by cmgonzalez at 10:35 AM on July 7, 2009


all the music on the charts nowadays is stuff like ex-American Idol ballads, "Ma Bitch In Da Club", and various "hey let's use that auto tune processor again"...

Oooooh... someone should mash those up.
posted by rokusan at 10:36 AM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Holy crap! He was the voice of Shaggy? I never would have guessed that in, like, a million years, man. Thanks for the post!
posted by solipsophistocracy at 10:42 AM on July 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Davejay, that's the kind of story I find compelling about successful people. I don't care about the big time deal making and hoo ha. I want to know how a man gets a job done. That's what is useful to me.
posted by Xoebe at 10:44 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


i had never heard of the U2 incident with negativland, which is weird because when i was in 8th grade i had a very similair idea, but it would have involved doing the same exact thing to nirvana. Well maybe not the same exact thing, but a similair thing.

Wasn't there a different top 20/40 count down with some other guy? I don't listen to radio that isn't comunity funded, and here in town we have 3 good community radio stations so i rarely listen to corporate radio.
posted by djduckie at 10:44 AM on July 7, 2009


Crap from the Past does a few tributes
posted by wheelieman at 11:09 AM on July 7, 2009


American Top 40 was aired on Sunday mornings in my hometown in the 70s. Since I wasn't a church-goer, the countdown was my reason to get up early. As a kid, it seemed really earth-shatteringly important to know which song was Number One each week, and I remember the sweet anticipation of waiting to find out if my favorites were in the Top 10.

Hearing Casey Kasem's voice always transports me back to a childhood spent with my ear to the radio.
posted by amyms at 11:14 AM on July 7, 2009


I'm also glad this isn't an obit. Casey Kasem's always been my fave of the national radio voices. DJDuckie is right in that there's some other guy, but his show is kinda bullshit. Doug something maybe? There's also Ryan Seacrest on the radio now too, but I honestly haven't ever listened to him.
posted by klangklangston at 11:19 AM on July 7, 2009


lucky bastard, he's married to a genie.
posted by benzenedream at 11:28 AM on July 7, 2009


When I got into the radio business in the 70s, I was so amazed that the American Top 40 radio show was distributed on LPs (containing commercials and everything) mailed to the radio stations. Somebody somewhere has a room full of these prehistoric discs documenting at least a decade of pop music.

Anyway, Casey's not dead, but for the show: ........................................
posted by wendell at 11:39 AM on July 7, 2009


yeah, jesus christ, could you word that a little better maybe?! I don't really need any false alarms, thanks. I'm having a hard enough time keeping my celebrities alive right now.

Shhhrrrrrikk!
*applies duct tape to Elizabeth Taylor*
posted by sexyrobot at 11:48 AM on July 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Lucky bastard, he's married to a genie.

You mean Lo-RETT-a?
posted by rokusan at 11:48 AM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was so amazed that the American Top 40 radio show was distributed on LPs (containing commercials and everything) mailed to the radio stations

how many 12" would one show take? wasn't it like 3-4 hours long and isn't it like 2x12" = 1 hour. That seems ludicrous, and to have someone there to cross fade from record to record every 15 minutes.

I think i was thinking of Rick Dees, isn't that the disco duck guy? Doesn't he have a top 40 show or something?
posted by djduckie at 11:49 AM on July 7, 2009


Wasn't he also the voice of Cliffjumper from Transformers?
posted by yeloson at 11:57 AM on July 7, 2009


Rick DEES, the Weekly Top For-TEEEEE!

Yes, yes he does (or did).
posted by spacewaitress at 12:01 PM on July 7, 2009


how many 12" would one show take? wasn't it like 3-4 hours long and isn't it like 2x12" = 1 hour. That seems ludicrous, and to have someone there to cross fade from record to record every 15 minutes.

That's what the innumerable commercial breaks are for.
posted by Spatch at 12:18 PM on July 7, 2009


Casey Kasem IS...Meriadoc Brandybuck. Oh, and Robin, the Boy Wonder on Superfriends and Mark on Battle of the Planets. Dude was ALL OVER my childhood.
posted by The Tensor at 12:20 PM on July 7, 2009


Back in the mid-1980s my Japanese pen-pal came to visit (quite unexpectedly, actually) for two days. While we ate breakfast Saturday morning, we watched America's Top 20 on TV. I'll never forget the way Yoshi's face fell when he saw Casey Kasem for the first time. He was well familiar with AT40 and recognized Casey's voice immediately, but he turned to me and said "I always thought Casey had yellow hair. He's American, isn't he?" I explained that Casey was American, but of Lebanese heritage, which is why he had dark hair.

Count me among those who were surprised to find that AT40 was mailed out weekly to radio stations as a 4 LP set. (I've got one set from a week in late 1991.) Full color picture of Casey on the cover and everything. It seems like it would've been more cost-effective to send the show out on tape, but what do I know.
posted by Oriole Adams at 12:40 PM on July 7, 2009


I've always admired his voice work, and I hope he keeps it up at least a little.

(And I've known people who used him, and like almost everybody who does much voice work they said he behaved like a pro. You just gotta in that business -- no room for primadonnas. The work goes to folks who can crank it out without backstage drama.)
posted by lodurr at 12:42 PM on July 7, 2009


Metafilter: They're from England, and who gives a shit?
posted by jonp72 at 12:47 PM on July 7, 2009


how many 12" would one show take? wasn't it like 3-4 hours long and isn't it like 2x12" = 1 hour. That seems ludicrous, and to have someone there to cross fade from record to record every 15 minutes.

I've got a set at home, I'll have to check after work -- I believe it was 4 LPs, possibly 6, around 20 minutes to a side. Each disk ends with a commercial break (Mars was apparently the show's sponsor at that time). We listen to it from time to time - it was from around 1985 or so, and that 80s sound is popular with the kids now. Some oldies stations between here and Wisconsin have been running "remastered classic" editions of Casey Kasem's Top 40, which are from around that time, too.

I, too, was afraid this was a Kasem death announcement: out of all the recent deaths, Casey Kasem would probably mean more to me than the rest. Glad to hear he's still around, sad to hear he's retiring. The man deserves it, though; he's put out a lot of good work over the past 50 years.
posted by AzraelBrown at 1:18 PM on July 7, 2009


"how many 12' would one show take? wasn't it like 3-4 hours long and isn't it like 2x12' = 1 hour. That seems ludicrous, and to have someone there to cross fade from record to record every 15 minutes. "

You'd need someone there to insert local commercials which could be inserted at disk change.

I'm curious about the cost though, how much does it take to press a limited run record like this?
posted by Mitheral at 1:24 PM on July 7, 2009


I imagine having to cut a master and press several dozen (?) copies of four records every week was far more economical than mastering and pressing CDs (or, God forbid, duplicating dozens of reel-to-reel tapes) until at least the early 90s. Vinyl is cheap, and probably the only format all their markets could use.

Me, I always thought it was sent over satellite.
posted by neckro23 at 1:59 PM on July 7, 2009


I followed American Top 40 religiously from about 81-85. How religiously? I used to make line graphs charting the rise and fall of various songs, imagining that somewhere on that chart I'd find a reason why "Baby Come To Me" went top 40 and "What I Like About You" didn't.

I stopped caring about this when I went to college and became a DJ at the campus station.

That all said, I've spent my life wishing I had a voice that was as distinctive as Kasem's. Great career, Mr. Kasem. Enjoy retirement!
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:59 PM on July 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fuck Snuggles!
posted by loquacious at 2:09 PM on July 7, 2009


Me, I always thought it was sent over satellite.

Yeah me too. Isn't that how broadcast television works? Recieve satellite transmission and tape. Play tape later.

According to wikipedia it was a 3 hour 55 minute show, and a 12 inch LP is 45 minutes so we are actually looking at about 6 records. It still amazes me that this was the most cost effective way to do this.
posted by djduckie at 2:31 PM on July 7, 2009


I got into radio because of Casey Kasem, too, but not for the usual reasons. I was thoroughly sick of top 40 music and wanted to swim upstream. Up the poop creek of the music biz as it were, like a lot of other musically obnoxious twats. Thankfully the community radio station I was involved with was not allowed - by our own FCC charter - to play anything currently on mainstream radio, and playing anything that had been a previous top 40 hit was pretty much verboten as well, which thankfully eliminated burnouts who only wanted to do all Eagles all the time shows and the like. We were there to provide a community service according to our charter - which thankfully meant new or obscure or otherwise not mainstream music.

There are a lot of high points to choose from the years I was there but a favorite had to be during the yearly campus orientation and open house fair kind of thing where all the various clubs, electives and services would set up booths to attract new students and community members.

Our station had a decent-sized pile of PA gear and a mobile DJ rig, so for our booth we usually set that up along with the old remote transmitter rig we had. Take one fairly large PA plus a really rather large crowd milling about between the various booths and stages and one certain Negativland genuine vinyl record with the "numeral U and the letter 2" is a combination that's basically too good to pass up.

People would perk up on hearing Casey Kasem's voice and look around as though they actually expected him to be announcing at the open house of a university. And then the shouting and swearing and noise starts in. It wasn't a riot or total bedlam, but the confusion and reaction of people was visible as they tried to flee out of audible range of our speakers, which was nearly impossible. "What the fuck? Casey Kasem doesn't swear! Nooo!"

All said that record probably did more for recruiting the "right" people to the radio station than any other. If you couldn't dig that track you didn't belong in college/community radio, because you'd face worse as DJs tried pushing the OPI rules as much as possible, especially during "safe harbor" hours from 10pm to 6am.

And I've never heard the unedited recordings of Casey Kasem's "Snuggles" rant until now. Excellent.
posted by loquacious at 2:34 PM on July 7, 2009


"Count me among those who were surprised to find that AT40 was mailed out weekly to radio stations as a 4 LP set. (I've got one set from a week in late 1991.) Full color picture of Casey on the cover and everything. It seems like it would've been more cost-effective to send the show out on tape, but what do I know."

Most, if not all, of the syndicated radio shows in the 70s-early 80s era were sent out on vinyl. The station I worked for in high school didn't have AT40, but it had a few others. And then when I interned at KJR (which at the time was a music station in Seattle, which had gone from Top 40 in the 70s to sort of Adult Contemporary hits in the early 80s), I noticed that they had a turntable in the studio even though all the songs in the actual playlist were on carts (tape cartridges that looked like 8-track tapes, kids). I asked about it, and they said "we only keep that around for AT40." (AT40 then played stuff that KJR wouldn't play in their regular playlist, which had skewed so much older by that point. We would flip past AM 950 and hear something new-wavey and get all excited, and then realize it was just AT40 and KJR would be back to the baby boomer Christopher Cross crap after the show. You know it's bad when American Top 40 is more cutting edge than your playlist... but I digress.)

Consider that duplicating tapes actually takes a really long time and you generally have to have multiple decks running to do the duping in any reasonable amount of time, then consider how many stations were running AT40 back then, and you get an idea why vinyl was better for this.

I first started listening to AT40 in the mid-70s, and usually on a battery-operated radio, often under the covers on Sunday night when I was supposed to be sleeping. I remember waiting for ages to hear my local station mentioned in "American Top 40 is heard around the world on great radio stations like..." It is kind of funny that I got all excited when they finally mentioned it, but I was a kid, after all.
posted by litlnemo at 3:35 PM on July 7, 2009


My memories of Casey Kasem and AT40 always involved my parents forcing me to go to church (ugh!) and me trying to convince them that I HAD to hear the number one tune in the land, so Jesus could frackin' wait. That and those long distance dedications, some of those were truly heartbreaking.
posted by IvoShandor at 5:10 PM on July 7, 2009


Does anyone know if he ever got the pictures he was supposed to see?
posted by mattholomew at 5:32 PM on July 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The first year of AT40 actually WAS sent out on reels of tape, that stations were required to send back so they could be wiped and reused. Vinyl was undoubtedly a big improvement. (And yes, there are many collectors of these records.)

Another interesting change is that at first, the show was produced in real time -- that is, Casey and the engineers, etc. would go into the studio and record it live-to-tape. Then one day Dick Clark was filling in, and said something to the effect of "Hey, guys? You're doing it the HARD way" and explained that it would be much simpler to record the voice tracks and then mix them with the songs afterward.

If you've heard Casey recently, his voice has not aged so gracefully -- he simply doesn't have the range he once did. He probably should have hung up the cans a bit sooner.

One other bit of trivia: Here he is as the voice of NBC.
posted by evilcolonel at 5:50 PM on July 7, 2009


And who could forget his pivotal role as the CapCom in The Doomsday Machine
aka Armageddon 1975
aka Doomsday+7
aka Escape from Planet Earth

. . . eh?
posted by Herodios at 8:17 PM on July 7, 2009


I am not sure why but Casey Kasum's two cameo appearances on Saved by the Bell have always stood out to me as a memorable moment in my life.
posted by trishthedish at 8:30 PM on July 7, 2009


Holy crap! He was the voice of Shaggy? I never would have guessed that in, like, a million years, man.

It always weirds me out when people say that seriously. It seems blatantly obvious to me, how could so many not have made the connection?
posted by Evilspork at 8:56 PM on July 7, 2009


Casey and the engineers, etc. would go into the studio and record it live-to-tape. Then one day Dick Clark was filling in, and said something to the effect of "Hey, guys? You're doing it the HARD way"

There's some benefit to doing it the hard way, as far as turning around your product as quickly as possible, but yeah, hard way indeed.
posted by davejay at 11:57 PM on July 7, 2009


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