“American Top 40,” Poptimism and Winner-Take-All

IS it possible to hate Casey Kasem? Probably not. His show was a lot of fun, and he was the voice of Shaggy. But his death is being received in an odd way that’s unfair to him and wrong about the way culture, popularity and economics work. In short, he’s being drafted into a war in which he never fought.Casey_Kasem

My new story in Salon gets into some of this. Prepare to see your humble blogger denounced as pernicious, elitist, indier-than-thou rockist.

Anyway, I especially welcome comments on this one.

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  1. says

    I’m posting a comment from a reader who wrote to me. If he doesn’t want it up publicly, he can write and I’ll take it down. But i was glad to have the chance to fly the flag for ‘HFS.

    Just read your piece in Salon, and I wanted to say thank you — Thank
    you! — for the WHFS love. That station saved my mind when I worked as
    a delivery driver (out of Annapolis). I was so enthralled that I drove
    to the station during my office hour, completely unaware that radio
    stations are not really places to visit. BUT, while I was waiting to
    see nothing much, out of the back comes Mojo Nixon! I’ll remember that
    thrill ’til the day I die. Thanks again, Rob Tally

  2. John Susoeff says

    I’m going to put this as succinctly as I can. I thank God for people like Casey Kasem, but not for the reasons one might think. Hearing his show and the product it peddled as the American Top 40 pushed me to go out and search the radio dial, magazine racks and record stores for something more satisfying musically. I found it in Creem Magazine, KROQ (which was a glorious eclectic train wreck of a station before it became “Rock of the ’80s!”) and Punk Rock. You are correct not to indict him, just as my tongue in cheek thanks is not meant to disparage him, as he was nothing more than a canned-cheese dispenser. But teary-eyed appreciations painting Kasem as some kind of grand cultural arbiter reminds me of those who wish this country could go back to the “good old days”…they are nostalgic for something that really never existed.

    Great, thought-provoking writing, thank you.

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