BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 25: Casey Kasem (R) attends the 17th Annual Night Of 100 Stars Oscar Gala held at the Beverly Hills Hotel on February 25, 2007 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Chad Buchanan/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 15: Radio personality Casey Kasem (c) and his children Mike and Kerri arrive at the Golden Dads Awards ceremony at the Peterson Automotive Museum on June 15, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JUNE 15: Radio personality Casey Kasem arrives at the Golden Dads Awards ceremony at the Peterson Automotive Museum on June 15, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 15: Legendary DJ Casey Kasem arrives with wife Jean at the Museum of Television and Radio's gala tribute to Barbara Walters at the Beverly Hills Hotel November 15, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 14: DJ Casey Kasem attends the Seventh Annual Awards Dinner 63rd birthday celebration for Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 14, 2004 in Beverly Hills, California. The event was sponsored by the Rainbow/Push and the Citizenship Education Fund. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 29: Casey Kasem arrives at the 13th Annual Night of 100 Stars Oscar Viewing Black Tie Gala, February 29, 2004 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Giulio Marcocchi/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 29: Casey Kasem (R) and guest arrive at the 13th Annual Night of 100 Stars Oscar Viewing Black Tie Gala, February 29, 2004 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Giulio Marcocchi/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 10: American Top 40 host Casey Kasem and his wife Jean arrive at The Museum of Television & Radio's annual Los Angeles Gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel on November 10, 2003 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - NOVEMBER 10: (TABS OUT, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER OUT) Casey Kasem poses before the Museum of Television & Radio's Annual Los Angeles Gala on November 10, 2003 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 27: (TABLOIDS OUT) Radio personality Casey Kasem accepting award on stage at The 2003 Radio Music Awards at the Aladdin Casino Resort October 27, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photos by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 27: (TABLOIDS OUT) Singer JC Chasez (L) and radio personality Casey Kasem hug on stage at The 2003 Radio Music Awards at the Aladdin Casino Resort October 27, 2003 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photos by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 19: Casey Kasem with his daughters Carrie (L) and Julie attends the 2nd Annual 'Runway for Life' celebrity fashion show benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and celebrating the DVD release of the Academy Award winning film 'Chicago' at the Beverly Hilton August 19, 2003 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
Jean and Casey Kasem at The Museum of Television and Radio's annual Los Angeles gala to honor Ted Danson and Dick Wolf at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Ca. Sunday, Sept. 29, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect.
HOLLYWOOD - JULY 13: Radio & television personality Casey Kasem attends the WB Network's 2002 Summer Party at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel on July 13, 2002 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)
Casey Kasem was a presenter at 'The 6th Annual Prism Awards' at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, Ca. Thursday, May 9, 2002. Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.
403225 06: Radio personality Casey Kasem attends the funeral for late comedian Milton Berle at Hillside Memorial Park April 1, 2002 in Culver City, CA. Berle died of colon cancer March 27, 2002 at age 93. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)
395097 05: DJ Radio Casey Kasem arrives at Worldfest September 30, 2001 in Van Nuys, CA. (Photo by Sebastian Artz/Getty Images)
391363 08: Singer Pat Boone, second from right, poses with, from left, Bo Hopkins, Casey Kasem and David Leisure July 2, 2001 during an American Red Cross Blood Drive in Los Angeles, CA. Boone''s grandson, singer Ryan Corbin, was hospitalized after falling from a three story building on June 19, 2001. Boone has been gathering his celebrity friends to donate blood to promote what the Red Cross is describing as a critical blood shortage. (Photo by Getty Images)
393673 02: DJ Casey Kasem attends the Muscular Dystrophy Association 28th Annual Jerry Lewis Pre-Telethon Extravaganza August 25, 2001 in Beverly Hills, CA. The telethon will air September 2, 2001. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
391363 04: DJ Casey Kasem, left, poses with singer Pat Boone during an American Red Cross Blood Drive July 2, 2001 in Los Angeles, CA. Boone has been gathering celebrity friends to donate blood for a critical blood shortage after his grandson singer Ryan Corbin was hospitalized after falling out of a three story building on June 19, 2001. (Photo by Getty Images)
386195 10: Actor/producer Casey Kasem and daughter Kerri Kasem arrive at the 21st Annual St. Jude Hollywood Gala March 1, 2001 in Beverly Hills, CA. (Photo by Jason Kirk/Newsmakers)
382329 19: Radio legend Casey Kasem arrives at the Hollywood Christmas Parade with his wife Jean and daughter Liberty, November 26, 2000 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Newsmakers)
382329 18: Radio legend Casey Kasem arrives at the Hollywood Christmas Parade, November 26, 2000 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Newsmakers)
381117 22: Casey Kasem arrives at the premiere of Paramount's 'Rugrats in Paris - The Movie' November 5, 2000 at Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Chris Weeks/Liaison)
10/4/99 Beverly Hills, CA. Jean and Casey Kasem at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel during Reverend Jesse Jackson's visit in L.A. to celebrate a special 58th birthday tribute to the civil rights movement. Photo by Brenda Chase Online USA, Inc.
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BY ANTHONY MCCARTNEY
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Casey Kasem, the internationally famous radio broadcaster with the cheerful manner and gentle voice who became the king of the top 40 countdown with a syndicated show that ran for decades, died Sunday. He was 82.
Danny Deraney, publicist for Kasem's daughter, Kerri, says Kasem died Sunday morning. A statement issued by the family says he died at 3:23 a.m. surrounded by family and friends.
Kasem's "American Top 40" began on July 4, 1970, in Los Angeles. The No. 1 song on his list then was "Mama Told Me Not to Come," by Three Dog Night.
The show continued in varying forms - and for varying syndicators - until his retirement in 2009. In his signoff, he would tell viewers: "And don't forget: keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."
In recent years, Kasem was trapped in a feud between his three adult children and his second wife, former actress Jean Kasem. In 2013, his children filed a legal petition to gain control of his health care, alleging that Kasem was suffering from advanced Parkinson's disease and that his wife was isolating him from friends and family members. Kasem also suffered from Lewy Body Disease, a form of dementia.
A judge in May temporarily stripped his wife of her caretaker role after she moved him from a medical facility in Los Angeles to a friend's home in Washington state. Jean Kasem said she moved her husband to protect his privacy and to consult with doctors. Casey Kasem developed a severe bedsore while in Washington and was in critical condition by the time he was hospitalized in early June.
It was a sad, startling end for a man whose voice had entertained and informed music lovers worldwide.
Kasem's "American Top 40" began on July 4, 1970, in Los Angeles, when the No. 1 song was Three Dog Night's cover of Randy Newman's "Mama Told Me Not to Come." The show expanded to hundreds of stations, including Armed Forces Radio, and continued in varying forms - and for varying syndicators - into the 21st century. He stepped down from "American Top 40" in 2004 and retired altogether in 2009, completing his musical journey with Shinedown's "Second Chance."
While many DJs convulsed their listeners with stunts and "morning zoo" snarkiness, Kasem would read "long distance dedications" of songs sent in by readers and introduce countdown records with sympathetic background anecdotes about the singers.
"The idea from the beginning was to do the type of thing on radio that Ed Sullivan did on television, good, honest stories with human interest," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1975.
Succeeding him at the main "American Top 40" show in 2004 was multiplatform star Ryan Seacrest, who has said he had been a fan of Kasem since boyhood and would imitate him in pretend countdown broadcasts at age 9.
Kasem's legacy reached well beyond music. His voice was heard in TV cartoons such as "Scooby-Doo" (he was Shaggy) and in numerous commercials.
"They are going to be playing Shaggy and Scooby-Doo for eons and eons," Kasem told The New York Times in 2004. "And they're going to forget Casey Kasem - unless they happen to step on his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I'll be one of those guys people say `Who's that?' about. And someone else will say, `He's just some guy who used to be on the radio.'"
The son of Lebanese immigrants, Kasem was active in speaking out for greater understanding of Arab-Americans - both on political issues involving the Mideast and on arts and media issues.
"Arab-Americans are coming out of the closet," Kasem told The Associated Press in 1990. "They are more outspoken now than ever before. People are beginning to realize who they really are, that they are not the people who yell and scream on their nightly newscast."
Kasem was born Kemal Amin Kasem in 1932 in Detroit. He began his broadcasting career in the radio club at Detroit's Northwestern High School and was soon a disc jockey on WJBK radio in Detroit, initially calling himself Kemal Kasem.
In a 1997 visit with high school students in Dearborn, Michigan, home to a large Arab-American community, he was asked why he changed his name to Casey.
"It didn't sound like a deejay; it wasn't hip. So we decided I'd be `Casey at the Mike' - and I have been since," Kasem said.
In the 1975 Los Angeles Times interview, he said he had been doing "a regular screaming DJ show" in San Francisco in the early 1960s when his boss suggested he talk about the records instead.
He was unconvinced, since his screaming routine had brought him top ratings. But he said he had learned "after a particularly unpleasant situation in Buffalo never to argue with general managers."