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Opinion

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Casey Kasem leaves a swath of warm memories

Casey Kasem had a distinctive voice that captivated listeners as he counted down the top pop music hits on his popular weekly show.

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Casey Kasem had a distinctive voice that captivated listeners as he counted down the top pop music hits on his popular weekly show.

Casey Kasem, the classic and familiar voice of the American Top 40 countdown, died at 82 this week. As tributes poured in, it became obvious that the DJ and voice-over artist touched lives across the country over his decades-long career. Here, the Globe Opinion staff reminisced about their favorite memories of Kasem, their favorite songs, and classic pop radio moments. What’s your favorite memory of Kasem? Tweet your songs and stories at @GlobeOpinion or leave a comment.

The day I learned that Casey Kasem was the voice of Shaggy on “Scooby-Doo” was the day my mind was blown forever. How could that Guy Smiley voice, so slick and smooth, belong to

Joanna Weiss

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Scooby’s hapless stoner sidekick? In all those years of overlap – when I watched those meddlesome kids solve crimes in afternoon syndication, then let Kasem’s warm voice guide me through the hits of Lionel Richie and REO Speedwagon – I never once made the connection. Years later, I learned the truth, and I couldn’t forget. Now, when I watch old “Scooby” clips, with the endless snacking and the baggy Shaggy eyes, I keep waiting, with a little bit of longing, for the Shagster to make a Long Distance Dedication.

– JOANNA WEISS, @JoannaWeiss

To the tune of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” with profuse apologies to John Lennon:

Picture yourself on a float in the summer,

The pond water lapping,

Just soaking up sun.

Suddenly, there on your transistor radio,

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A voice with a warm sense of fun,

Selling you pop hits of mellow and teen,

Swimming around in your head.

’74, “Rock the Boat,” still his intro lives on:

Countdown: “This is Casey Kasem”

Countdown: “This is Casey Kasem”

Countdown: “This is Casey Kasem”

Aaaahhhh....

– MATTHEW BERNSTEIN

At the point in my life when I was listening to Casey Kasem most, there was no getting away from “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb. It was the spring of 1979, in the dark days just before the

Sony Walkman debuted, when personal audio meant holing up in your bedroom and listening to the one pop radio station with a strong signal. Each Sunday morning for weeks,

Dante Ramos

“Reunited” climbed inexorably higher up the countdown, and when it reached number one it stayed there for what seemed an impossibly long time. In hindsight, it was only four weeks.

– DANTE RAMOS, @DanteRamos

Casey Kasem’s death is a bittersweet reminder of my lonely teenage years. I’m not sure what time his show aired in the rest of the country, but in our windy little Wyoming prairie town it aired Friday nights. Stacks of cassette tapes by the boom box, fingers poised on the “record” and “play” buttons to strike precisely as the next song in the countdown aired, foolish but still fervent hopes that the next dedication was going to be to me! But “Hello” by Lionel Richie always played for someone else, and Simon Le Bon never responded to my fan mail, and now, many years (OK, decades) later, Casey Kasem has died. These memories, like his wonderful voice, are a gift from him, a reminder that life is full, and long, and rich, and that the brief instant of being a teenager alone with a purple boom box is just the start of something wonderfully fun.

– Heather Hopp-Bruce, @H_HoppBruce

When I heard that Casey Kasem had died, my first thought was of that vaguely annoying “Casey’s Coast to Coast” jingle. My second thought was about “Strange Magic” by ELO. Why that particular pop song? I have no idea. Perhaps it was on the “American Top 40” chart the very first time I heard Kasem’s broadcast, back in 1976. Perhaps it was just a song I hadn’t known until Kasem’s countdown. A quick check of Google reveals that the song made it to Number 14 on the Billboard singles chart -- so it probably had only a short run on Kasem’s show. But I listened to “Strange Magic” again, and felt transported back into the weirdly symphonic sound of ELO, the sound that was at once mysterious and entrancing to my 13-year-old ears. To kids that age, music was, in every sense, a strange magic, the introduction to the world of adult emotions. Kasem was our concierge on that journey.

– Peter Canellos

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