Monday, June 15, marks one year since the passing of an entertainment and broadcasting icon -- Casey Kasem. He was, without a hint of exaggeration, my idol.

I think I first discovered him when I was around 6 years old. Kasem simultaneously fueled my fascination with both music and radio. I remember thinking, "you can talk about music as a job?!"

Despite being kind of an introvert, I was all-in. Whenever we were asked "what do you want be when you grow up?" (insert the joke that you do this gig because you don't want to grow up), my friends had the usual admirable (and more lucrative) dreams of becoming firemen or baseball players. Those were on my list as well, but I eventually realized I didn't have the physical or emotional disposition for some of those "real jobs". More than anything else, I wanted to be like Casey Kasem!  I distinctly remember a comment from my dad when I was a kid: "If only you could memorize math as easily as you memorize songs." By design, Dad.

The business has its challenges, but I'm fortunate to be part of it. Through all the resistance (and frankly, ridicule) I've encountered at times, Casey Kasem has always been my inspiration. His easygoing, yet personable and energetic style was one I've tried to emulate -- hopefully successfully.

Casey went on to host several variations of his countdown shows, another concept that absolutely fascinated me -- American Top 40, of course; also a Top 20 in an adult contemporary format, and even a Top 10 video countdown on syndicated television during the peak of the MTV era of the 1980's. He guest-starred as himself on "Saved by The Bell", and almost as famous as his radio career was his gig as the voice of Shaggy on the Scooby-Doo cartoons! He was a truly multi-faceted entertainer.

After retiring in 2009, word had it he was going to write his memoirs, which I would have loved, but that never materialized as his health declined and 5 years later, he was gone.

I'll always be grateful for Casey Kasem's presence in our industry and influence in my life.

Thanks for indulging me and, as Casey used to say, "keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars!"

Kasey Casem
Carlo Allegri - Getty Images

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