Monday, June 2, 2014

My Prayer for Casey

At the time of this writing, a well-known radio personality who had a big influence on my life is in poor health and may pass away soon. 82-year-old Casey Kasem is best known for hosting “American Top 40” plus voicing various cartoon characters. In recent years, Kasem has suffered from a form of dementia similar to Parkinson's Disease that has left him barely able to talk.

Casey’s radio show was one of the things that inspired me to become a DJ. It also got me through difficult times during my childhood. Growing up in Moorhead, Minnesota, I first listened to “American Top 40” with my family on our way home from spending weekends at the lake. In 1978 I started writing down the Top 40 every Sunday plus recording snippets of Casey’s show with my Panasonic tape recorder. My mother got annoyed because I listened to Casey’s commentaries more than the actual songs. Eventually, I made weekly trips to music stores that subscribed to Billboard magazine whose record charts AT40 were based upon. I jotted down the Top 40 in advance but still followed along with Casey’s countdown.

In October 1979, I was furious when local radio station KVOX-AM dropped “American Top 40” from their programming (ironically I briefly worked as an announcer at that station five years later). For the next few months, I heard AT40 on a station from Wahpeton, North Dakota despite the poor reception. Next, I occasionally watched Casey’s similarly-styled TV program “America’s Top 10.” In 1985, I resumed regular listening of “American Top 40” during my active duty time in the Army National Guard and then when I moved to Minneapolis. 

Casey Kasem was born to Lebanese immigrants and has identified himself as a Druze, a political and religious sect of Islamic origin. Nevertheless, it was through Casey when I first learned of a Biblical truth during an “AT40 Sunday school lesson.” Before playing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” by the Charlie Daniels Band, Casey pointed out Lucifer was an archangel cast out of heaven “long before Adam and Eve saw the Garden of Eden.” I was never taught that at the Lutheran church I attended as a boy. 

Casey concluded his broadcasts with the tagline, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” My prayer is that Casey reaches for the Morning Star before he dies (if he hasn't already).

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.” - Revelation 22:16

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