Shadoe Stevens Remembers Casey Kasem: A 'Genuine Man' in a 'Cynical World'

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Shadoe Stevens

The former "American Top 40" host tells THR Kasem taught him a key rule about radio and really believed his famous signoff: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”

Shadoe Stevens, who took over the American Top 40 mantle from Casey Kasem in 1988, says the late DJ was truly the likable guy you heard on the radio.

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"It's a cynical world, and cynicism has become the mark of intellectual sophistication. Somehow everyone has to be hipper than everyone else," Stevens tells The Hollywood Reporter. "He wasn't any of that. He wasn't mean-spirited. He wasn't self-important. He was a genuine, nice man and kind."

Kasem died Sunday at 82. 

Stevens says Kasem really meant what he said in his American Top 40 signoff, "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars."

When Stevens moved from Boston to Los Angeles to break into the city's radio scene, he sought Kasem's advice.

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"I talked to Casey about how to make that adjustment from the bombastic, overenthused Top 40 disc jockey to a more realistic thing. He gave me this advice about projection: 'It's not quite a whisper — a little more than a whisper — but less air.' It was a revelation to me that I had to think in terms as something so subtle."

The pair would be friendly for decades — even when Stevens took over American Top 40 in Augsut 1988 — but they didn't become true friends until the late '90s, when they'd have play dates for their daughters, Liberty Kasem and Chyna Rose Stevens.

He says in addition to being a radio innovator, Kasem had a voice few could match.

"It's unusual a person can be identified completely by his voice. Like Ryan Seacrest — he's really successful, he's good at what he does, but when you're trying to mimic him on Saturday Night Live, what do you do? Casey was very distinct."

Click here to read other tributes to Kasem.