We request DJ/voiceover artist Casey Kasem be honored by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
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The man born Kemal Amin Kasem has been a popular star on the radio scene for many years, but of course, most people know him as "Casey" Kasem. Casey started his radio career right before he joined the Army during the Korean War, and became a broadcaster for the Armed Forces Radio Network. He later became a very popular DJ in several cities, before joining forces with Tom Rounds, Ron Jacobs, and Don Bustany, to create a national radio show dedicated to the biggest hits in the USA, according to the charts of Billboard magazine. On July 4, 1970, Casey's show, American Top 40, was launched, and he spent nearly four decades, on that show and others to follow, counting down the biggest hits of the week. He also spent time dispensing trivia about the music and other fun facts, and years later, offered up dedications for loyal listeners, giving them the chance to use music to convey their feelings. Casey understood the connection between music and the listeners more than any other DJ in pop music, knowing how music can touch our lives in so many ways, and that the right song and artist can come together to help us fall in or out of love, help bring us up when we feel down or express sorrow, to help us rock out or dance the night away, to help us find inner strength, or even to find a chance to make a difference in the world.
Casey's show was unique, for sure, offering up the best in music, but also providing a great format for pop music, at a time when AM radio, especially pop radio, felt threatened by the advance of rock-friendly FM radio. Casey also proved a long time ago, long before the advance of radio conglomerates that now control the kind of format and audience they want to reach, that just one person playing and promoting a single song, or even album, can be a very effective tool in reaching the public, and making their audience feel connected in a very special way. The one-to-one connection that Casey offered has been duplicated by only a very few individuals, but to be honest, Casey Kasem was a master of letting the music do the talking, by giving those songs a good way to be introduced and played. And that interaction is something special, an interaction that today's modern radio formats need to realize works, even now. It also allowed for syndicated programs to finally get the footing they need, to find programs that were not only marketable, but also that it could be entertaining and informative, a combination that lets both small stations and those mega-media corporations benefit. DJs ranging from Wolfman Jack to Shotgun Tom Kelly, from Charlie Tuna to Howard Stern, and even the likes of non-music on air personalities from Rush Limbaugh to Larry King, and then some, wouldn't be able to market themselves as they had, if not for the likes of Casey.
The show that Casey, Ron, Don, and Tom had developed had helped start something marketable, indeed-there have been various broadcasts that have featured countdowns, not just pop countdowns hosted by people such as Rick Dees, Shadoe Stevens, Dick Clark, and even today with Ryan Seacrest, but for different formats ranging from country (among them, with Chris Charles and Bob Kingsley) to R&B (such as those hosted by Walt "Baby" Love and Tom Joyner) to rock, adult, gospel, and so on. And having a staff that made sure he kept up with the music industry very well indeed, made him a force in the industry, long before the advent of MTV, VH1, CMT, and the Biography Channel. Casey also knew who would be the hottest new acts long before shows like Star Search, X Factor, American Idol, and The Voice came on the air. His TV show "America's Top 10" was also a hit for several years, offering up the best of the best in pop music, right when the video format started taking off.
Casey became an actor as well, appearing in several movies and TV shows, making an impact with his winning personality and quick wit. He's also been known as a major voiceover, and as one of the best known cartoon voices in history, among his more famous roles being, Robin of the Hanna-Barbera/DC cartoon "Super Friends," and the sandwich-crazy Norville "Shaggy" Rogers of the "Scooby-Doo" franchise. Talk about "Mortifying multiple personalities, Batman!" Zoinks, indeed, that Casey would be loved for so much work that has endeared him to millions.
Casey also believed in causes dear to him, such as working for environmental causes, nuclear disarmament, and especially peaceful race relations (most notably among those of Arab and Israeli descent). He's also been known as one of the long-time sidekicks who helped the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, as well as helping battle other diseases. Sadly, it was a form of dementia that finally took his life on June 15, 2014, ending one of the most unique careers in American broadcast history.
Casey is loved by millions of people, for his radio work, his acting work, and his humanitarian efforts, some of which his audience still shares. And his classic countdown shows have been revered by a growing number of folks who enjoy the fun of listening to the radio and hearing that golden voice count down the hits and tell the stories-and a growing number of folks who are fighting to make sure that legacy is preserved. That is the reason that we've set up this petition, to make our voices heard, just as we heard Casey's voice come thru loud and clear.
The Rock & Roll Hall Hall of Fame has long recognized the efforts of individuals to help out the rock/pop music industry, and for their work in whatever causes that help benefit mankind. Fellow DJs Murray "the K" Kaufman, Alan Freed, and even Dick Clark, have all been honored by the Hall, and in 2006, the honor was given a title-the Ahmet Ertegun Award, named after the legendary music insider and founder of Atlantic Records. We feel it's time to have another famous Arab-American honored as well, and that is why we-Casey's family, friends, former colleagues, and his loyal listeners, and I, among a great number of folks-ask the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and its induction committee to please consider giving Casey Kasem the distinction of becoming one of its next recipients. Casey has done so much to entertain, inform, and above all, welcome listeners to a world where music can touch so many people in so many ways, whether to make us rock on, keep us dancing, or take us thru the times of our lives.
In closing, all we ask is that Casey be remembered for this legacy, not for some of the craziness he has had to endure in his final days. This gentleman has brought so much enjoyment into our lives, and touched so many more (even to the point of encouraging future radio broadcasters), he more than deserves the honor. After all, it was Casey who told us to "keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars-and leave your (radio) dial tuned right where it is."
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