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Casey Kasem, 82, Dead on Father’s Day

The voice of Sunday morning top 40 radio for generations of people around the world has been stilled, as Casey Kasem died today. He was 82.

“Early this Father’s Day morning, our dad, Casey Kasem, passed away, surrounded by family and friends,” his three adult children announced on Twitter early today.

He died early today at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Gig Harbor, Washington.

“Even though we know he is in a better place and no longer suffering, we are heartbroken. The world will miss Casey Kasem, an incredible talent and humanitarian.”

His death came after a nasty public fight between his three children — Kerri, Mike and Julie — and their stepmother over Kasem’s medical care. Kasem’s second wife, Jean, was accused of hiding the bedridden Kasem, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2006.

A judge eventually transferred medical power of attorney to the children.

Kasem is best remembered as the longtime host of the weekly American Top 40 countdown on radio stations — as he put it — “across the country and around the world on great radio stations.” Across Europe and Asia, American Top 40 was carried by the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network radio stations, and millions of people worldwide were introduced to rock and roll on Kasem’s show.

American Top 40 debuted on seven stations in 1970 on July 4, 1970, and its roster eventually grew to 1,000 stations in 50 countries. The syndicated, three-hour show ran from 1970-88 and again from 1998-2004, when Ryan Seacrest took over.

“Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars” was Kasem’s famous sign-off line. Old “AT-40” shows are still run on Sirius-XM satellite radio.

He was also the voice of Shaggy on the “Scooby Doo” animated TV series. A dedicated vegetarian, he left that series for a time over a dispute when Shaggy was asked to endorse Burger King hamburgers.

Kasem was born Kemal Kasem, and he got his first radio job while still in high school in Detroit in 1952. He was drafted at age 20 and put to work as a DJ at the Armed Forces Radio Korea Network.

Following his service, he worked up and down the dial at stations in San Francisco, Cleveland and Buffalo, New York. He was one of the DJs at legendary L.A. station KRLA from 1963-69.

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