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Casey KasemKasem's legacy reached well beyond music. His voice was heard in TV cartoons such as "Scooby-Doo" (he was Shaggy) and in numerous commercials.

"They are going to be playing Shaggy and ‘Scooby-Doo’ for eons and eons," Kasem told The New York Times in 2004. "And they're going to forget Casey Kasem — unless they happen to step on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I'll be one of those guys people say 'Who's that?' about. And someone else will say, 'He's just some guy who used to be on the radio.'"

The son of Lebanese immigrants, Kasem was active in speaking out for greater understanding of Arab-Americans — both on political issues involving the Mideast and on arts and media issues.

"Arab-Americans are coming out of the closet," Kasem told The Associated Press in 1990. "They are more outspoken now than ever before. People are beginning to realize who they really are, that they are not the people who yell and scream on their nightly newscast."

Kasem was born Kemal Amin Kasem in 1932 in Detroit. He began his broadcasting career in the radio club at Detroit's Northwestern High School and was soon a disc jockey on WJBK radio in Detroit, initially calling himself Kemal Kasem.

In a 1997 visit with high school students in Dearborn, Michigan, home to a large Arab-American community, he was asked why he changed his name to Casey. "It didn't sound like a deejay; it wasn't hip. So we decided I'd be 'Casey at the Mike' — and I have been since," Kasem said.

In the 1975 Los Angeles Times interview, he said he had been doing "a regular screaming DJ show" in San Francisco in the early 1960s when his boss suggested he talk about the records instead.

He was unconvinced, since his screaming routine had brought him top ratings. But he said he had learned "after a particularly unpleasant situation in Buffalo, never to argue with general managers."

We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague Casey Kasem in the ongoing mission to celebrate the Middle East and cultural diversity. He embodied the American Dream and symbolized hard work and massive talent. We will miss him in every way possible. Today, and every day, we will keep our feet on the ground and reach for the stars. 

In 2006, we asked him why he dedicated himself to the world. Here is his answer:

"I feel I should give back because I’ve been so lucky. If one is looking for inspiration, you need not look further than Danny Thomas. He was also Lebanese and did amazing things with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Starting in 1981, I was asked by the Muscular Dystrophy Association to co-host Jerry Lewis’ Labor Day Telethon and have been doing that ever since. I am very proud of my work with the ADC, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, that carries the mission of anti-discrimination for our community. AAI, the Arab American Institute, continues to update and publish a speech I gave about ten years ago, that highlights contributions Arab-Americans have made to society. The brochure is called Arab-Americans: Making a Difference."

The late, great Casey Kasem, we will miss you.


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