Casey Kasem, king of the Top 40 countdown, dies
By Anthony McCartney, AP
June 17, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
LOS ANGELES--Casey Kasem, the internationally famous radio host with the cheerful manner and gentle voice who became the king of the top 40 countdown with a syndicated show that ran for decades, died Sunday. He was 82.
A statement issued by the Kasem family said Kasem died at 3:23 a.m. Sunday, on Father's Day, surrounded by family and friends at a Washington state hospital.
“Even though we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are heartbroken,” wrote his daughter Kerri Kasem on Twitter and Facebook from the family. “The world will miss Casey Kasem, an incredible talent and humanitarian; we will miss our dad.”
Kasem's “American Top 40” began on July 4, 1970, in Los Angeles. The No. 1 song on his list then was Three Dog Night's cover of Randy Newman's “Mama Told Me Not to Come.”
In his signoff, he would tell viewers: “And don't forget: keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
Media personality Ryan Seacrest, who took over the countdown from Kasem in 2004, said in a statement that Kasem's death is a loss for radio listeners worldwide. Seacrest said that as a child he'd listen to Kasem's show every weekend “and dream about someday becoming a radio DJ.”
“When decades later I took over his AT40 countdown show, it was a surreal moment,” Seacrest said. “Casey had a distinctive friendly on-air voice, and he was just as affable and nice if you had the privilege to be in his company. He'll be greatly missed by all of us.”
In recent years, Kasem was trapped in a feud between his three adult children and his second wife, former actress Jean Kasem. In 2013, his children filed a legal petition to gain control of his health care, alleging that Kasem was suffering from advanced Parkinson's disease and that his wife was isolating him from friends and family members. Kasem also suffered from Lewy Body Disease, a form of dementia.
A judge in May temporarily stripped his wife of her caretaker role after she moved him from a medical facility in Los Angeles to a friend's home in Washington state. Jean Kasem said she moved her husband to protect his privacy and to consult with doctors. Casey Kasem developed a severe bedsore while in Washington and was in critical condition by the time he was hospitalized in early June.
It was a sad, startling end for a man whose voice had entertained and informed music lovers worldwide.
After its debut, Kasem's “American Top 40” expanded to hundreds of stations, including Armed Forces Radio, and continued in varying forms — and for varying syndicators — into the 21st century. He stepped down from “American Top 40” in 2004 and retired altogether in 2009, completing his musical journey with Shinedown's “Second Chance.”