I loved listening to music on the radio ever since I can remember. I don’t recall the first time I heard Casey Kasem’s "American Top 40" because I feel like I’ve been listening forever. I grew up in a very chaotic household.
My mom suffered from manic-depression. I think Casey’s show and the charts represented order in my world of complete disorder.
I delivered a paper called Newsday and every Sunday, they would print the Top 20 from the Billboard Charts. Casey’s show aired on Sunday mornings at 9am. My favorite part was the first half of the show. Songs 40-21, because these were not printed in the paper so I was always surprised at what songs had moved up or down.
Casey had all these amazing facts and stories. I would quote them to my dad and I don’t know if he cared but he always listened to me. “Dad, did you know that John Lennon is singing background on David Bowie’s song “Fame”? I was one of those geeky kids who treated the charts like baseball box scores.
There was a lot of insanity going on in my house so slipping on a set of headphones and listening to Casey count them down was something of an escape for me.
I know the whole countdown thing seems ridiculous now, but this was before the Internet and satellite radio when you actually had to wait until this show to find out what was the number one song in the country.
Casey had a soothing voice and always seemed like he knew everything. I just thought he was a genius. I didn’t realize he had producers that put it all together for him until I worked at my first radio station.
The magic of radio!
Years later when a tape surfaced of Casey yelling and cursing at his producer during a long distance dedication I was surprised. “Where’s my god damned pictures? How am I supposed to go in to an upbeat song when I have to talk about a f--king dog dying”
Whoa! This was not the Casey I knew.
I had bought in to Casey’s sincerity hook line and sinker. I was sure it must have been a fake. Now I laugh at it.
It actually makes him more human.
Casey Kasem was really the first radio guy I listened to on a regular basis. He really influenced me and I have great memories of listening to him. I think all that trivia and knowledge helped me when I first started working in radio.
Whenever I quote a music or chart fact on the show, Howard says, “Who do you think you are Casey Kasem?”
I know he’s goofing on me but I take it as a compliment.