Disc jockey Casey Kasem's smooth voice and super-sincere delivery became a familiar presence around the world on “American Top 40,” a syndicated radio show that each week counted down the records on the new singles chart.
Kasem began his radio career in Detroit and worked in several cities, including Buffalo and Oakland, before beginning a six-year stint at Los Angeles pop powerhouse KRLA in 1963. While there, he released the 1964 single “Letter From Elaina,” reading a Beatle fan's account of her encounter with George Harrison. Kasem and partner Don Bustany created “American Top 40” in 1970, and Kasem hosted until 1989, when he left in a contract dispute.
He returned with the program in 1998, then turned over his duties to Ryan Seacrest in 2004. Five years later he retired from his subsequent countdown shows. Over the years, Kasem also was an announcer for NBC and the voice of Shaggy on “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!,” among other animation voicing work.
In his final days, Kasem's children from his first marriage battled with his wife, Jean, over his medical care. Kasem had an advanced form of Parkinson's disease and a variety of other ailments. His death at a hospital in Washington came days after his daughter Kerri Kasem got a court order allowing her to stop hydrating and feeding her father. Members of the family were with him when he died, her publicist told The Times.