(The following is a letter recently sent from a fan to Shadoe Stevens, who shares it with billboard.com on the 40th anniversary of the first episode of "American Top 40").
I'm a journalist from Spain, writing from South Africa. I've been here for nearly one month now, on a special live coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
I came here with some CDs of old 'AT40' shows from the Shadoe Stevens era to play while working at the International Broadcasting Center (where radio stations and TV networks from around the world have studios from which to send information to their home countries).
Some days ago, while I was preparing our show, I played in my studio one of those CDs. It was an 'American Top 40' year-end special, the top 100 songs of 1991. I played it loud, and kept the doors open, so that the music could be heard outside. After a few minutes, journalists from different countries began coming in, asking me about the show I was blasting, because it was bringing back so many great memories for them.
There was music by Natural Selection, Amy Grant, Michael Jackson, Paula Abdul, Whitney Houston, Bette Midler, Vanessa Williams, Bryan Adams ... and there was Shadoe Stevens, one of the most recognizable voices in the world.
Reporters came in from stations from Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Japan, Australia. They remembered listening to 'AT40' in their countries in the '80s and '90s. I've got the feeling that, from 1988 through 1995, you didn't get to fully comprehend the power of the 'AT40' brand.
I just wanted you to know that even though you ceased production on 'AT40' more than 15 years ago, today, if you put a CD of a Shadoe Stevens show in the International Broadcasting Center, people from countries around the world remember you, remember the music and remember the magic."