Casey Kasem’s Long-Distance Deviation

Call it a prank; call it a sick joke; and call it also, perhaps, an omen

Amy Wallace’s detailing in GQ magazine of the sad, final days of Casey Kasem begs the following, resounding question: Why did he put up with second wife Jean for all those years? She was difficult and, more importantly, extremely rude from the get-go to his three kids from a previous marriage. Though not in a way that could ever prepare the siblings for what transpired in 2013-14 in Holmby Hills, Santa Monica, Las Vegas, Seattle, Montreal and Oslo.

Maybe that long-distance dedication business on January 24, 1981 was an omen. On that day’s edition of American Top 40, just a month after Casey and Jean Kasem had tied the knot in Beverly Hills, the host read a long-distance dedication of Wayne Newton’s “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast” and then, towards the end of the program, revisited some previous correspondence. From Pete Battistini’s book American Top 40 with Casey Kasem: The 80s:

“You know, occasionally we get letters from listeners whose long-distance dedications have been read on the show. Usually, they want to tell us about the effect the dedication has had on their lives. I’d like to read you one of these follow-up letters. It’s from a woman in New Zealand. And she writes…”

Dear Casey: About two years ago, I wrote and asked you for a long-distance dedication to a guy named Calem. I told of how I’d come to the States to look around, but gotten mixed up with the wrong people and drugs. When Calem found me, I was a mess. I didn’t care about anything, least of all, living. Calem helped me to get by without drugs, and to find all the beautiful things in the world again. He then used his savings to get me back home.

It wasn’t until I’d been home a few months that I realized how much I missed and loved him. A friend of Calem’s wrote me and said that Cal felt the same way. Anyway, I asked you for the long-distance dedication “You Needed Me” by Anne Murray. And you played it.

To cut a long story short, Cal and I are now happily married, and have been for a year. We have a three-month old baby girl named Casey, after you. We want to thank you. For without that dedication, none of this could’ve happened. We’re the three happiest people in the world. Signed with love, Tinny, Calem and Casey.

“Well, Tinny, Calem and Casey, thanks for letting us know how great things worked out for you. Now, on with the countdown.”

Vintage Top 40 stuff, right? The only problem is that when Battistini went back and looked at the times the referenced Murray song had been long-distance dedicated (September 1978, August 1979 and October 1980 – yes, Murray was that popular), none of the letter writers were named Tinny. And no dedication info matched up with what Kasem read on the air that January 24, 1981.

Battistini tells us that outside of his 80s book, one of a pair he has written about American Top 40, no one has ever been able to disprove his conclusion that this was a bogus long-distance dedication.

“As far as I know, it was a fake,” the author tells FishbowlNY via email. “Were there other faked letters to Casey? Odds are certainly in favor that there were. But if true, they’d be much more difficult to prove. And I’m not aware of any other examples.”

[Top photo of Casey, Jean and Liberty Kasem, 1991: Vicki L. Miller/; bottom photo of Kerri Kasem protesting in Holmby Hills October 1, 2013: s_bukley/]

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.