Monday, June 16, 2014

A Tribute To Casey Kasem

When I was young, I didn't listen to much "modern" music.  The music that regularly played around my house were "oldies" (which is ironic, since the music from when I was young is now older than the "oldies" were at the time).  I know most, if not all the words to many of the biggest hits of the 50's and 60's, as well as a bunch of the 70's, but I never really got into 80's and 90's music until the late 90's.

However, there was one exception.  During the mornings on the weekends, after my parents managed to unglue me from a television set (usually between ten and eleven), the radio would be turned on and we'd listen to Casey Kasem count down the hits.

He passed away on Father's Day over the weekend, and I thought it was only right to spend a bit of time writing about a guy who was a fixture in my life for many years.

For the most part, I'll be ignoring the last few months of his life.  I don't want to bury my nose in the stink of what was going on with his family.  Instead, I'm going to focus on what I remember.

Besides voicing the character of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo for years, Casey Kasem was always, to me, the most recognizable voice on the radio.  Unlike so many other radio personalities (including most of them today), he always felt like he was speaking to us in a more intimate setting.  Instead of being broadcast to millions of people around the world, there were just us select few at that radio hearing it all, like a few people at a table at a small night club.  No matter where you were, his voice made things feel...

Well, the only word I can really think of is "cozy."

He was also a master of drawing out the emotions of people listening.  I can roll my eyes a lot at overly sappy things, but hearing Casey Kasem tell a story that someone likely hand wrote to him (remember, this was the late 80s and early 90s, word processing was still a new thing to a lot of people), really made you feel something.  Perhaps it was a story about how someone met the love of their life, or a story of two lovers parted either by military service, a job, or other circumstances.  It could be recognizing a passed loved one, or celebrating another monumental event in someone's life.  It could be anything from the passing of a pet to the recognition of a personal hero, and he treated each story with the same respect it deserved.  It was more than just a story, it was someone's life, and deserved to be recognized as such.

I always wondered, growing up, if the long distance shout outs were ever actually heard by their intended targets.  I always liked to hope so, that the voice calling out to the ether was actually picked up by the right pair of ears.

There are a lot of other radio personalities out there, some seem to be almost as big as Casey Kasem.  You have your Billy Bush, your Ryan Seacrest, and your John Tesh, but none of them are the same man as Casey Kasem.  Most are fixated on celebrities (or people who pretend to be such).  Casey Kasem also dealt with celebrities, but it was always more about their successes and their rises from humble beginnings rather than the latest scandal to plaster their face across the tabloids.

John Tesh can reach that same level of intimate conversation, but more often it just feels like he's attempting to lecture us over the radio.  I've had multiple high school and college teachers who felt like they were really just trying to find some interesting way to read their notes to us without really putting much heart into it.

Then again, when you get most of your helpful tips from things like Redbook, Better Homes and Gardens, and other periodicals and websites, I suppose it's hard not to come across as simply being instructive instead conversational.

But still, if I had to pick one person who I'd like to hear between songs on a simple lazy morning or a quiet evening, it'd be Casey Kasem.  It never felt like he didn't care, not just about the people he read letters from, but also about each one of us listening to him.

So, to quote a legend, "keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."

There's a whole lot of people out there still reaching, Casey.  Thank you.

1 comment:

StephanieT said...

Nice tribute to the legend. Very befitting, makes me sigh with nostalgia.