Casey Kasem (1932 - 2014)

Siedah Garrett

Casey Kasem hosted the radio programme America’s Top 40 since 1970, and he also supplied his highly recognisable voice to many TV commercials and children’s cartoons such as Scooby Doo in the 1960s. When It was decided to transfer the chart rundowns onto television, with the evergreen Kasem as the obvious choice for a host, he became a multi-millionaire, as Kasem had shrewdly retained the rights to the radio show which he had created.

The half hour television shows included brief interviews with the stars of the current week’s charts which were supplied by Billboard Magazine, and featured on each edition. But usually Kasem only served as a link between videos and chart rundowns, and did not interact with anyone as the segments were pre-recorded and edited in. Much like the radio series, it became an institution and was essential viewing for it’s fans across America. Kasem became notable for the numerous sweaters he wore, and for his catchphrase at the close of every transmission. Charlie Tuna introduced each show, but was heard and never seen.

Guest presenters would take over whenever Kasem was unavailable, these included Tommy Puett a young actor, and a more suitable choice in singer-songwriter Siedah Garrett. When the shows were first tranmitted in the UK during the summer of 1987, the segregated nature of the charts was a revelation. Although there have been rock, pop, and even soul music charts in Britain, the presence of a black only chart was quite a surprise to TV viewers. This was actually a misnomer, as surprisingly George Michael topped the black chart one year, and even won a Grammy award in that category.

Kasem presented the programme between 1980 and 1992, then was replaced by expat Englishman Richard Blade's off-camera voice.

*Updated November 2014




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