Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Kasem, Casey

Radio and television personality Casey Kasem, was born Kemal Amin Kasem on April 27, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up with his Lebanese-American family in the city. Kasem began working with radio while he was in high school and he continued when he studied broadcasting at Wayne State University. Kasem was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1952, where he was a D.J. and announcer for Armed Forces Radio’s Korea Network.

In the 1960s, he worked as a DJ for radio stations in both San Francisco and Oakland, California where he began to develop his well-known on-air personality of being a music trivia expert. In 1970, Kasem came up with the idea of a countdown radio show, and on July 4th of that year, American Top 40 debuted on seven different radio stations. The program grew in popularity and was broadcast on over 1,000 radio stations by 1986. He hosted the program until 1988, and again from 1998 to 2003, when he was succeeded by Ryan Seacrest. He then went on to host the spin-off shows, American Top 20 and American Top 10 until his retirement in 2009.

Kasem did not limit himself to being a radio personality. In the mid to late 1960s, he was the host of a TV dance show called, Shebang, that aired in the Los Angeles area on weekday afternoons. This hosting job was his first gig as a television host. He also had a successful career providing the voice to various radio characters, most notably the voice of “Shaggy” on several Scooby-Doo, Where Are You series. From 1977 to 1981, he was the narrator on all of the national promotional announcements on NBC television.

In 1981, a star for Kasem was placed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. For his radio work, Kasem was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1992, and, three years later, he was inducted into the National Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame. Kasem was also the recipient of the National Association of Recording Merchandisers Presidential Award for Sustained Executive Achievement in 2001.

Kasem died on June 15, 2014 in Gig Harbor, Washington and was buried in Oslo Western Cemetery in Oslo, Norway. Shortly before and after his death, his children from his first marriage and his second wife were involved in a publicized dispute over his estate and final resting place.