If you caught the Associated Press obituary for Casey Kasem we published in Monday's editions, there was plenty to share about this radio broadcast legend who became the king of the top 40 countdown with his syndicated show that ran for decades. He was 82 when he died at his home on Father's Day surrounded by his family.
Much of the past year was a sad final chapter for Kasem. He battled a dementia-related illness that caused him to be confined to his bed. His family's infighting has dominated recent headlines, with Kasem's daughter, Kerri, from his first marriage, supported by her two siblings and also Casey's brother, Mourner, pitted against the radio personality's second wife, Jean, and the couple's daughter, Liberty.
Kasem's "American Top 40" began with a July 4, 1970, broadcast from Los Angeles. I was born Aug. 13, 1970, so I grew up listening to Kasem's voice, and not just on the radio.
Kasem's distinct vocals gave life to a long list of my favorite Hanna-Barbera Saturday morning cartoon characters. His is the voice Shaggy, the goatee-sporting teen pal of Great Dane detective Scooby-Doo. He also voiced snooty Alexander Cabot (who always wore sunglasses and dollar signs on his attire) on "Josie and the Pussycats." He was the voice of Waldo, the faithful, laid-back nephew of near-sighted Mr. Magoo. And he was also the voice of Robin, the Boy Wonder, the masked sidekick of Batman on every show the duo appeared in for Saturday mornings.
Reader Maryanne Battistini, of Highland, wrote me to alert her son, producer Peter Battistini, originally from the Calumet Region, was also a good friend of Kasem.
"Pete and Casey have been friends for years, and Casey or one of his assistants would even call Pete if they had questions about any of the past radio shows," Maryanne told me.
"Pete was the expert, with his two volumes of 'American Top 40' and tapes of every radio show Casey ever made. He has the ONLY complete collection anywhere, even better than Casey's own archives!"
She said her son has been invited and will attend the family's private memorial service for Kasem. He works as an English teacher at Harris Academy in Brownsburg, Ind. and lives his wife Carol in Avon, Ind.
Long regarded as an expert of Casey Kasem's "American Top 40" radio program, Peter Battistini authored a definitive book about the broadcasts providing highlights and summaries of nearly 500 "AT40" programs from the 1970s, along with a highly detailed list of all subscribing "AT40" radio stations.
Titled "American Top 40 with Casey Kasem" (2005 AuthorHouse $27.95), the soft-cover book is peppered with various anecdotes and perspectives, as he shares highlights from his archives and offers more than 100 illustrations — memos, documents, advertisements, photographs, script cards, radio surveys and much more for at tribute to Casey's coast-to-coast inside look at what was America's favorite hit parade. It also includes his own "confessions" about how "AT40" became his favorite weekly habit.