Monday, June 16, 2014

Casey Kasem: The End of Our Road

While his health has been failing, the world lost a broadcast legend yesterday when Casey Kasem passed away at the age of 82. In addition to being the voice of “Shaggy” on Scooby-Doo, Kasem was best known for his role of initiating and hosting American Top 40. I first got familiar with Kasem and his show by listening to his broadcast on WKEE in Huntington, WV in the mid 1970s.

Although I worked in radio for 20 years, I never had the opportunity of working for a station that hosted AT 40. It was a sign of honor in a market to be the American Top 40 affiliate. Casey hosted the show from July 4, 1970 to August 6, 1988. While he went on to host other shows after that, he returned to AT 40 from March 28, 1998 to January 3, 2004.

When American Top 40 debuted on Independence Day 1970, Kasem only had eight affiliates. The first record that he played was Marvin Gaye’s “The End of Our Road.” Gaye’s remake of Gladys Knight and the Pips’ 1968 hit peaked at 40. It was Kasem’s first record on the show and would be the first record he would play the following week as it stalled again at 40 before dropping off the chart.

The title of this Marvin Gaye single is a fitting end to a life that touched so many. It’s “The End of Our Road.” Rest in Peace, Casey; Rest in Peace.

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