Casey’s Top 40 begins its first countdown Sunday noon on KPLZ

VICTOR STREDICKE / January 19, 1989 – Radio’s most outrageous tease returns to the air this weekend with a new pop-music countdown show. After nearly 20 years as host of “American Top 40,” Casey Kasem has moved to a new network with a new program, “Casey’s Top 40.’
The program builds on the phenomenal success of “A.T.F.,” a premier example of what radio music services call long-form entertainment.
Kasem’s trademark has been to interweave dramatic true stories about pop musicians, salting the list of national hits with requests and dedications.
“Coming up, the No. 1 song on the black chart . . .” is the simplest sample of Kasem cajolery.
“We do have to be honest about these teases,” Kasem said on the phone from Beverly Hills. “You can’t announce a `Third World War, film at 11,’ unless you can deliver.”

Casey Kasem-AT40
Kasem began teasing when the program director at a San Francisco station told him to cut the comedy and do a straight disc-jockey show. Kasem picked up “Who’s Who in Pop Music, 1962,” packed with facts about then-current recording artists. He used the musical bridges between songs to tell just a bit of his stories. This became his trademark, refined after a jump to a Los Angeles station and honed in 1970 when he began “American Top 40.”
After 18 years with “American Top 40,” its not likely we’ll see much change in Kasem’s new show, just a change in networks. And in Seattle, a change in stations.
“Casey’s Top 40” begins at noon Sunday on KPLZ, 101.5 mHz., one of 400 stations across the country scrambling to find space for the Westwood One program.
The original “American Top 40” is continued by ABC Radio, with new host Shadoe Stevens, on KUBE.
Kasem’s weekly four-hour program takes several days to assemble. Tuesday the staff receives the hit list, blocks out modules – three teases an hour – that allow for commercials from Westwood One and commercials to be placed by local stations. Kasem shares the work with two writers, including Merrill Shindler and producer Elizabeth Rawlins, who followed him from ABC. Songs that have been on the charts for a while are placed, stories developed. Space for special features or longer sto ries is reserved.
“There is a lot going on,” Kasem said. “We’ve got to arrange it so it doesn’t sound crowded.”
Wednesday there is additional writing and polishing. New songs get new introductions. Thursday the show is timed and segments written again.
“While I don’t preach on the program, I think people get the feeling that I am trying to reflect the goodness in life through the stories I tell and the letters I read,” he said.
“I want a program the entire family can enjoy, in a car, on their way to church or mosque or synagogue.”

Twisting the dial

Roger Nelson will file Ted Bundy stories from Florida including in the 10 o’clock and noon hours Monday and at 4 a.m. Tuesday on KOMO, 1000 khz

Author: Victor Stredicke

Former radio columnist for the Seattle Times (1964-1989). --- View other articles by Victor Stredicke
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