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Casey Kasem 1932-2014

Casey Kasem, who died on June 15 at age 82, brought people together with the power of radio and gave life to iconic cartoon characters; a look at his pop culture contributions

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American Top 40
It’s hard to imagine radio was once moving toward less hit-oriented formats, but Kasem changed all that when he debuted American Top 40, his weekly syndicated countdown show, in 1970. His show also played a role in the ’90s pop renaissance featuring the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears.

Zoinks! Kasem voiced Norville ”Shaggy” Rogers on Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, which premiered in 1969. (In fact, he played Shaggy in various Scooby tales until 2009.)

”Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars”
The inspirational catchphrase that closed most every Kasem broadcast was coined in 1956, when he was a DJ in his home state of Michigan.

Saved By The Bell
Kasem showed up in a 1989 episode as the host of a dance contest. Screech won.

Ryan Seacrest
Kasem inspired generations of would-be DJs, including the American Idol host, who took over hosting AT40 in 2004.

”Long Distance Dedications”
The DJ brought a new level of interactivity to his radio show when he started doing his signature ”Long Distance Dedications” segment in 1978. The mailed-in song requests were often to honor lost lovers or estranged family members, but his most famous came in 1986, when he memorialized the crew of the Challenger disaster with Styx’s ”Come Sail Away.”

Memorable Roles in Classic ‘Toons
His unmistakable voice helped him earn roles on several popular animated series, such as Josie and the Pussycats (he played band manager Alexander), Transformers (Cliffjumper), and Super Friends (Robin).