Category Archives: Casey Kasem’s American Top 40

The King of Countdowns is Gone: Casey Kasem, Dead at 82

I am heartbroken. One of my biggest radio idols has passed away. Casey Kasem died earlier today. He was 82.

When I was 9 years old, I discovered American Top 40 while visiting my grandparents in North Dakota. I was riding my bike, tuning the dial on my red and white Arvin Bike Radio when I came across something I’d never heard before: a DJ counting down the Top 40 songs from #40 to #1. The station airing this amazing program was KNOX-AM 1310 in Grand Forks. Even though I was only 9, I already knew the difference between local disc jockeys and nationally syndicated programs. After I got back home to Minnesota, I anxiously scanned the dial for Casey’s voice but couldn’t find it anywhere. Our local station KDWB-AM 630 did not pick up American Top 40 until the first week of January, 1974. Finally, I caught a segment of the broadcast on KOIL-AM 1290 out of Omaha. The KOIL signal was tough to hear since it received interference from stations on the same frequency in Peoria, Illinois and Dayton, Ohio. Still, I was able to catch enough to identify each song and it’s number in the countdown.

From that moment, I was hooked. Each Sunday night, I was glued to my radio from 7-10. Make that 7-11 after the show expanded to 4 hours in October, 1978. I had a dedicated Spiral notebook in which I would write each song, artist, chart position, and change from last week’s chart position. Later, I began recording and saving the shows. My weekly allowance didn’t provide for enough blank tapes to record every show, but I managed to save quite a few. I still have them, including several which I originally archived onto 8-track tapes! The biggest American Top 40 event was the annual Top 100 of the year. It aired in 2 parts over Christmas and New Year’s weekends.

When I started at my first radio job in 1983, I was thrilled to learn we were an AT 40 affiliate station! It was then that I discovered the show was sent to stations on vinyl records. I also learned from the cue sheets that the American Top 40 theme music was actually called the “Shuckatoom Theme.” Since the following weekend’s show usually arrived at the station by Thursday, I now knew what the #1 song was 2 days before anyone else. I thought having access to this “inside information” was VERY cool!

Although I never had the chance to meet Casey Kasem, I feel as if I knew him. I guess that’s what happens when you spend 3-4 hours each week with someone for over 20 years. He was one of my earliest and biggest on-air influences. With the possible exception of John Records Landecker from WLS/Chicago, this man inspired me more than any other to pursue a career as a radio broadcaster. Although American Top 40 lives on with Ryan Seacrest, there will never be another voice, another host, another talent like Casey Kasem. Thanks for the memories and for all you’ve contributed to radio over the years.

And the countdown continues…

American Top 40, the 70s/80s Affiliate Station Lists

Did you grow up listening to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem? So did I! Each week, I’d listen to the entire countdown. I’d write down each song, it’s current chart position, and it’s change from last week’s chart position.

A few years later, I began recording and archiving these shows. In the 1990s, I worked at radio stations which ran a “Greatest Hits of the 70s” format. Since I still had all my tapes, I wanted to rebroadcast these shows. They would have fit our format perfectly. But of course, this was impossible due to contractual and copyright laws. In 2006, my prayers were answered when these shows were rescued from the vaults and aired once again: first on XM Satellite Radio, then distributed by Premiere Radio Networks for broadcast on terrestrial stations.

Thanks to the Internet and online streaming, you don’t need a local station to hear these classic American Top 40 with Casey Kasem shows. You can listen whenever you like, to whichever station you prefer. Here are the most complete station lists I know of:

American Top 40, the 70s

American Top 40, the 80s

Both of these lists are updated frequently. This is important since radio stations are constantly changing formats and programming. The exact time and day of broadcast is listed. Also included are notations on whether or not a station plays the “extra” songs at the end of each hour which were not included in the original 1970s/80s broadcasts. Typically, these are songs which were on Billboard’s Hot 100 and moving up during the week of the show but had not yet debuted on the Top 40. Most would go on to become Top 10 hits. Not all stations broadcast these extras, however. If the station has a heavy local commercial load, the extra song will be deleted to meet time constraints. This is why they are called “extras.”

To me, these classic American Top 40 shows are as great today as they were 25+ years ago! Truly a treasure that has (luckily) been preserved through the years. Kudos to Shannon Lynn for taking the time to remaster these shows from their original reel-to-reel master tapes. Shannon does it right. His commitment to quality is evident in every show. Be sure to check ’em out this weekend when you have time. Until then, as Casey says: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”