Five things about DJ Casey Kasem

Casey Kasem won the Radio Icon Award at the 2003 Radio Music Awards in October that year. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Casey Kasem won the Radio Icon Award at the 2003 Radio Music Awards in October that year. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

5 ways Casey Kasem made an impact on American popular culture

1. His show became the definitive indicator of success for American songsKasem was the host for countdown show American Top 40, which started out on seven radio stations in 1970, but became the definitive radio chart show played on thousands of radio stations all over the world.

2. He went beyond presenting the songs alone and thought about what radio listeners wantedKasem did not just introduce the songs, he also spiced up his shows with trivia, non-single album cuts and biographical details of the artists behind the songs on the charts. One of his most famous features was LDD, or Long Distance Dedication, where he would read out listeners’ requests for songs dedicated to loved ones who were tuning in from afar.

3. He was the voice of many famous animated charactersCartoon fans who grew up from the late 1960s to the 1980s will be very familiar with his voice. His distinctive voice gave life to Shaggy, one of the main characters of popular cartoon series from 1969 to 2009, but he was also the voice of Batman sidekick Robin on both the Batman and Super Friends cartoons from the late 1960s to the 1980s. He also voiced several main characters in the 1980s Transformers cartoon series.

4. He spoke out against negative portrayals of Arabs in the mediaKasem was born Kemal Amin Kasem in Detroit to parents who are Lebanese Druze immigrants. He was a prominent Arab-American activist, and often spoke out against negative portrayals of Arabs in the media. He quit Transformers in the third season after an episode featured what he perceived as offensive Arab caricatures.

5. He strived to spread positive valuesKasem would end every show with the phrase “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars”, which he first started using in 1956. In interviews, he said that it was his way of not having to say “goodbye” and at the same time come up with a catchphrase with positive values. After his death, plenty of tributes to the man on social media repeated his signature sign-off.