Sunday, June 15, 2014

Signing Off

RIP Casey Kasem:
Born Kemal Amin Kasem in Detroit, the disc jockey began his career in nearby Flint before becoming an announcer on Armed Forces Radio Korea Network in 1952. Upon his return, he went on to work at radio stations in California, Ohio and New York before launching "American Top 40" in 1970. He hosted that show until 1988, and then a revived version from 1998 until 2004, when Ryan Seacrest took over. From 1988 until 1998, Kasem hosted a show called "Casey's Top 40."

"Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars," was how he ended every program.
"I just didn't want to say goodbye. Every station I was at, I never said goodbye," he later explained to the New York Times of his famous sign-off. "I don't know why."

Kasem, who was married twice and has four children, also had a colorful TV career, which included doing the voice for Shaggy on "Scooby-Doo" as well as voice-overs for many commercials. A devout vegan, he supported animal rights and environmental causes, as well as political organizations that spoke to him. Originally of Lebanese origin, Kasem felt it was important to improve Arab-Jewish relations.

In recent years, the radio personality's health declined and in 2013, his daughter Kerri said he was suffering from a form of dementia. Around that time, his three oldest children and brother launched a claim that his wife Jean was not letting them see their father. A court denied a petition his daughter Julie launched to take care of her father in October 2013, but just last month, Kerri was granted conservatorship amid a battle with Kasem's second wife, her stepmother, Jean.
He was one of the last of the classic top 40 deejays. Here he is, at his peak:

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