With 'American Top 40' And Shaggy, Casey Kasem Narrated Our Youth

By | December 13, 2018

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Left: Casey Kasem in the Top 40 studio in 1998. Right: Shaggy Rogers from 'Scooby Doo,' one of many animated characters Kasem. Sources: Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images; Scoobypedia

In the '70s and '80s, the radio pop countdown had one authoritative voice: that of Casey Kasem, whose weekly broadcast American Top 40 was heard all over the country. Kasem had been in broadcasting for years before AT40 hit the airwaves -- starting with college radio and continuing on Armed Forces Radio while serving in Korea. Kasem brought his unique voice to children's programming as well, providing the dialogue for cartoon characters including Batman's sidekick Robin and Shaggy from Scooby Doo.

To this day, Kasem's voice lives on, as vintage American Top 40 shows and classic cartoons are re-played on satellite radio and TV networks. Kasem's unmistakable phrasing can take us back to our youth as much as the music he was introducing.

Casey Kasem was born on April 27, 1932, in Detroit Michigan, the son of Lebanese immigrants. His birth name was Kemal Amin Kasem, after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder and first president of the Republic of Turkey. As a child, he dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player, but a show called “Make Believe Ballroom” inspired him to turn his interest to radio.

Developing The DJ Style That Would Make 'American Top 40' A Hit

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Casey Kasem/image from Cincinnatti.com

While attending Northwestern High School in Detroit, he covered sports for the school’s radio club. He later attended Wayne State University where he did children’s voices on “Challenge of the Yukon” and “The Lone Ranger.” At the age of twenty, Kasem was drafted by the U.S. Army and sent to Korea. While there, he honed his broadcasting skills while working as a DJ and announcer for the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network, where he often included trivia about the music he played during his programs. After returning to the United States, he worked at radio stations in various cities across the country, including San Francisco, Cleveland, and Oakland. He began a trend of introducing each song with a “teaser and a bio.”