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WE WILL MISS YOU, CASEY KASEM
Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem, the internationally famous radio host with the cheerful manner and gentle voice, who became the king of the top 40 countdown with a syndicated show that ran for decades, died on Father's Day morning surrounded by family and friends at a Washington state hospital. He was 82.

“Even though we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are heartbroken," wrote his daughter Kerri Kasem on Twitter and Facebook from the family. "The world will miss Casey Kasem, an incredible talent and humanitarian; we will miss our dad."

Casey KasemKasem's "American Top 40" began on July 4, 1970, in Los Angeles. The No. 1 song on his list then was "Mama Told Me Not to Come," by Three Dog Night. In his signoff, he would tell viewers: "And don't forget: keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."

Media personality Ryan Seacrest, who took over the countdown from Kasem in 2004, said in a statement that Kasem's death is a loss for radio listeners worldwide. Seacrest said that as a child he'd listen to Kasem's show every weekend "and dream about someday becoming a radio DJ."

"When decades later I took over his AT40 countdown show, it was a surreal moment," Seacrest said. "Casey had a distinctive friendly on-air voice, and he was just as affable and nice if you had the privilege to be in his company. He'll be greatly missed by all of us."

Kasem's "American Top 40" expanded to hundreds of stations, including Armed Forces Radio, and continued in varying forms — and for varying syndicators — into the 21st century. He stepped down from "American Top 40" in 2004 and retired altogether in 2009, completing his musical journey with Shinedown's "Second Chance."

While many DJs convulsed their listeners with stunts and "morning zoo" snarkiness, Kasem would read "long distance dedications" of songs sent in by readers and introduce countdown records with sympathetic background anecdotes about the singers.

"The idea from the beginning was to do the type of thing on radio that Ed Sullivan did on television, good, honest stories with human interest," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1975.

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