Casey Kasem Radio Icon is dead at 82, after a long battle with Lewy Body Dementia. A tweet was sent out via his daughter Kerri Kasem announcing the sad news of his death on Father’s Day at 3:23 A.M. It can only be described as a bittersweet day for the children of Kasem since he lost the battle on Father’s Day of all days. Kasem was surrounded by family and friends. He was well-known for his gentle yet cheerful voice as the host of the top 40 countdown. He revolutionized the radio industry in the 1970s and 1980s. Long before MTV was known for music there was Casey Kasem’s countdown to look forward to on Sunday. At the high point of his DJ career over 900 radio stations played his top 40 segment and even when he retired in 2009 around 350 stations played his segment. What truly set his show apart for others was his teaser and biography portion of the show that he would discuss between songs.
Originally Kasem wanted to become a baseball player in high school, but he would later forget this dream after joining the local radio club. At the age of 20, he was drafted by the army and would further sharpen his skill as a DJ on Armed Forces Radio Korea Network. After leaving Korea Kasey Kasem would work on many radio stations across the U.S. soon becoming a huge radio icon, though dead his legendary status will live on in history. He would eventually settle in Los Angeles and begin working for KRLA, and with an introduction to Dick Clark would begin his acting career as well. His voice was well-known as the voice of Shaggy from Scooby Doo Where Are You? He would portray his voice off and on till 1984. His first TV job was hosting a musical show called Shebang.
Kasem would truly take off in July 1970 with his most famous work as the host of American Top 40. He counted down the top 40 no matter what genre it was and helped many forget about a long week on Sunday with his happy-go-lucky disposition. He would address such deaths as Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Kurt Cobain, which helped fans across the U.S. deal with these icon’s deaths. In 1992, he became the youngest to be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.
He was married twice first to Linda Meyers from 1969 to 1980 resulting in three children Kerri, Mike and Julie Kasem. Less than a month later he would marry Jean Kasem, and they would remain wed until his death. They had one child together Liberty Kasem. In 2007, he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, which would eventually be the cause of his untimely death. His three eldest children would eventually battle with his second wife Jean Kasem over care and visitations, but eventually settled their differences and would come to an agreement. In May 2014, that would change, however, when Kerri Kasem would visit in early May and become concerned over his failing health. Soon after he was moved to an undisclosed location. Kerri would eventually get the courts involved asking for them to investigate, which was granted. Kasem a month later would be discovered in Washington state, and Washington courts would Kerri visitation rights and medical decisions. Though Casey Kasem is dead, he will always be remembered as a true radio icon, who truly made radio shows what they are today.
By Heather Tillman