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Radio / American Top 40

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The AT40 logo used from 1984-1995.
"Radio plays 'em, record stores sell 'em, Billboard ranks 'em, and AT40 counts 'em down."

American Top 40 is a weekly, long-running (1970-1995, Un-Cancelled in 1998) syndicated radio program, originally hosted by Casey Kasem and currently hosted by Ryan Seacrest, which counts down the forty most popular radio songs (of the week) in the United States.

In addition to playing the week's most popular songs, AT40 frequently included various extra segments. Perhaps most famous among these was Kasem's "Long Distance Dedication": a write-in request from a listener for a particular song, always sentimental in nature, typically directed at a person the listener had not seen in a considerable amount of time (such as a long-distance romantic couple, wife to overseas-based military husband, someone's birth parent on the other side of the country, etc). These particular segments were best remembered for the emotional tone with which Kasem would read the requests on air. In addition, Kasem would regularly include music and chart trivia, artist biographical information, introductions to new acts making their first appearance on the show, music news, short features on various musical topics, and other segments that made it more than just a countdown.

In 1988, Kasem left the show and was replaced by Shadoe Stevens. The change, as well as an altered format, went over poorly, and AT40 was eventually cancelled in 1995. Kasem, though, had in the meantime started up a rival program, Casey's Top 40 for the Westwood One radio network, which was basically AT40 in all but name. CT40 ran from 1989 to 1998, and more or less replaced the Stevens version of AT40 on many radio stations.

Kasem eventually managed to acquire the rights to the American Top 40 title, and that show was Un-Cancelled in 1998. Kasem subsequently retired from the program in 2004; Ryan Seacrest took over hosting duties and helms AT40 to this day, though on an especially busy week for the host/producer/cable network owner/''Today Show'' contributor, a guest host (usually a top-charting artist) will do the show for Seacrest instead.note 

Song-ranking data was originally derived from Billboard Magazine's "Hot 100" pop/rock singles chart before switching over to Billboard airplay-only charts from 1991 to the show's initial cancellation in 1995. When the show returned, it switched to Radio and Records (which Kasem had used in his competing program) in 1998. Currently, songs are ranked by data from Mediabase, combined with results of listeners voting for their favorite songs online.

In the mid-1980s, American Top 40 also had a Music Video equivalent: America's Top 10, which was basically the last hour of the radio program — that is, the ten most popular songs on the Billboard chart — translated to television, using clips from the songs' videos, natch. Other similar programs have included:

  • Weekly Top 40, hosted by radio personality Rick Dees;
  • Casey's Top 40, hosted (but not created) by Kasem himself beginning in January 1989, and running until 1998. As mentioned above, this show was Kasem's rival/replacement for AT40 during the 1990s.
  • MTV's (later VH1's) Top 20 Video Countdown.
  • A short-lived Canadian equivalent called Canadian Top 40 existed during the 1970s and followed the AT40 formatics to the letter, but it appears it didn't catch on. In fact, AT40 itself was heard on a number of Canadian radio stations.
  • Casey's Countdown and Casey's Hot 20 (later American Top 20/American Top 10), spinoffs of Casey's Top 40 for adult contemporary radio stations.
  • The 1980s in particular brought a glut of similar countdown shows intended for CHR and/or adult-contemporary stations, including regular AT40 and CT40 guest host Mark Elliot's Weekly Top 30 (from radio program syndicator Drake-Chenault), John Leader's Countdown America (later taken over by Dick Clark), Top 40 Satellite Survey hosted by legendary New York radio personality Dan Ingram and his computer sidekick Melvinnote , and Dick Clark's National Music Survey (later taken over by Charlie Tuna).

Apart from first-run airings with Seacrest, Kasem-era reruns of the program, Casey Kasem's American Top 40: The '70s/'80s, are also syndicated weekly.

Now, on with the countdown.

"The tropes from coast to cooooooast!":

  • American Title: It almost didn't have this, because the show's Working Title was National Top 40, but American was a word choice that helped the show when it aired outside the US.
  • Aren't You Forgetting Someone?: Several examples through the years:
    • The 1974 year-end countdown famously left the No. 1 hit "Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Babe" by Barry White completely out of the top 100, despite four songs that reached No. 1 afterward note , some of them placing in the top 30. (AT40 used the Billboard Hot 100 that year, where "Can't Get Enough of Your Love Babe" is also left out, with no explanation ever given as to why the song fell short, even though several historians have said the song had enough points to place it within the top 100.
    • AT40's countdown of the Top 40 Newcomers of the '80s (acts who didn't chart on the Hot 100 prior to 1980) left out Sheena Easton, despite her having more hits (and bigger hits) than some of the acts who did make the list. Premiere made light of this and included the theme to For Your Eyes Only as an extra to their reruns of the episode.
    • Inverted in part several times, particularly in the early years, when Kasem would mention a song title but if you weren't paying attention, it's as if the song was ignored. One early example is "Share the Land" by The Guess Who on a 1970 show, left out due to a number of extras and longer songs being played.
  • Ascended Extra: Ryan Seacrest filled in for Kasem as AT40 guest host a year or so before he took over the reins full time.
  • Audience Participation:
    • You can vote for your favorite song at the show's official website; the results will be factored into the countdown.
    • The "Long Distance Dedication" was added in 1978 to make the show more interactive.
    • Kasem also often answered listener questions on the air about certain chart factoids - for example, which artist had the most million-selling singles; the highest-debuting song in chart history; and so on.
  • Bowdlerization:
    • Chuck Berry's "My Ding-a-Ling" was replaced with a different song in several markets when it reached #1 in 1972, and reruns of those weeks' programs have featured a different song in the #1 position in certain markets.
    • To clarify, the show itself never removed any songs from the countdown because of content concerns, but allowed local stations to do so if they wanted. They also occasionally created their own in-house edited versions of songs, for content or time purposes (or both, sometimes). Most infamously, they edited "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" by Geto Boys down to a little over one minute. The popularity of records such as that was likely a big reason why AT40 eventually switched from the Billboard Hot 100 to a Billboard airplay-only chart in early 1992, since controversial rap records typically didn't get enough pop airplay to appear on airplay-only charts. (For what it's worth, rap records like "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" and "Me So Horny" never were played by Kasem himself as they didn't appear on the Radio and Records chart that formed the basis of Casey's Top 40.)
    • For the majority of its run on the show, Kasem didn't announce the title of George Michael's "I Want Your Sex", though it's unclear whether this was because of a personal objection on his part or a corporate mandate from ABC. He did announce it the first couple of weeks, as well as when it fell out of the Top 40 and during the year-end countdown for 1987. The fact that Casey freely called other songs with the words "Sex" or "Sexy" in their titles, such as The Stray Cats' "She's Sexy and 17" and Pat Benatar's "Sex as a Weapon", and guest host Charlie van Dyke similarly didn't announce the song's title suggests the latter was at least partially in play.
    • The show also never played "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton, even though Billboard listed it as along with its A-side, "Tulsa Time", when the two songs were released as a live single in 1980. Kasem only mentioned "Cocaine" the first week "Tulsa Time" appeared on the show.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Kasem's well-known sign-off during his years as host: "Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars!"
      • Occasionally (and, on Casey's Top 40 and Kasem's other shows for Westwood One/AMFM, always) followed by "...And keep your radio tuned right where it is."
    • "AT40 originates in Hollywood", or a variation.
    • "(This is American Top 40 in Hollywood,) I'm Casey Kasem."
      • "This is Casey on American Top 40 (in Hollywood)."
    • Shadoe Stevens had a couple of his own variations on the above:
      • "If this is American Top 40, then I must be Shadoe Stevens."
      • "This is American Top 40 with the eerie grin of the Shadoe."
    • "And the countdown continues/rolls on."
    • "We're counting down to... [insert tease about song or artist]. Details coming up!!"
    • "Radio plays 'em, record stores sell 'em, Billboard ranks 'em, and AT40 counts 'em down."
      • Or on Casey's Top 40: "Radio plays 'em, Radio and Records ranks 'em, and we count 'em down on Casey's Top 40."
    • "Up ___ big notches to number ___."
    • "Every week, American Top 40 is heard in the 50 states and around the world [or "coast to coast and around the world"] on great radio stations like...*[lists 3 or 4 affiliate stations]*"
      • A few variations were used on Casey's Top 40 such as: "Wherever you are and wherever you go, you can hear Casey's Top 40 every week on great radio stations like..."
    • "Once a week on AT40 [or Casey's Top 40, Hot 20 etc.] and you know how your favorite songs are doing on the national music scene, like the latest hit by ____..." followed by a description of the song's chart movement.
    • Often used as an intro to the final hour of the show: "We're headin' into the home stretch now on American Top 40, counting down the most popular songs in the U.S.A. and getting closer and closer to No. 1."
    • "Now as we continue with our countdown of the 40 biggest hits in the U.S.A., I'd like to welcome ___new stations to the AT40 family...*lists new affiliates*"
    • "___ songs debuted this week on AT40, so that means ___ songs fell out to make room for them. The droppers are... [lists titles and artists of the songs that fell out of the countdown, or, if there were a lot of debuts, sometimes only the titles]. Those songs fell out of the countdown. Now we're up to another debut..."
      • Listing the "droppers" from that week's countdown became a regular part of the show in late 1983; prior to that, Kasem would usually mention how many debuts there were but not the songs that fell out. The practice of listing the "droppers" continued on into Casey's Top 40 and the second generation of AT40 although Kasem usually listed only the titles of the deleted songs by then and not the artists, unless if there were 3 or fewer songs that dropped out, he would list the title and the artist.
    • (Before responding to a listener submitted question) "A listener from __listener's location__ wants to know . . ."
    • (After responding to a listener submitted question) "There's your answer. Thanks for writing in. Now on with the countdown!"
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Virtually every extended artist story or listener question read by Casey was preceded with a briefer description before the segment, ending the description with "Details coming up!". After a commercial break and another song, Casey would then provide the full segment.
  • Cool Old Lady: A 1994 episode of Casey's Top 40 featured a Request and Dedication from a young woman who had been shunned by her entire family after she came out as lesbian, except for her 92-year-old grandmother, who accepted the letter writer's girlfriend with love as part of the family. The song requested: "From a Distance" by Bette Midler.
  • Dramatic Timpani: A drumroll was used before Kasem announced the week's No. 1 song. A longer one was used on year-end programs, before revealing the year's No. 1 song.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Kasem's delivery was more hip and fast-paced in the first year or two, before relaxing by the middle of 1972. Early shows also had several oldies, usually the No. 1 song from a multiple of five years prior to the original airdate, along with other notable songs and album cuts from that week's No. 1 album.
    • Kasem's TV series, America's Top 10, started out as a faux newscast, with Casey sitting behind an anchor desk in a suit. After a few shows they switched to a more relaxed style with a sweater-clad Kasem sitting cross-legged in a chair or standing by a monitor.
  • The '80s: When the show was arguably at the height of its power, although it actually started in The '70s.
  • Every Episode Ending:
    Casey Kasem: And there you have 'em, the 40 biggest hits in the U.S.A., according to Billboard magazine for the week ending [insert issue date].
    • Casey Kasem always ended his episodes saying "Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars." For a brief time in the late-'70s and early-'80s, he would add "...and keep your radio tuned right here", to help keep listeners loyal to the station airing AT40.
      • Casey also used a variation of this phrase to sign off every episode of Casey's Top 40, which premiered in 1989, a practice which carried over to his adult-contemporary countdown shows for Westwood One/AMFM.
    • A typical Casey's Top 40 ending from the 1990s:
    Casey: And there you have 'em, the 40 biggest hits on the pop chart according to Radio and Records, the industry's number one newspaper. [Gives mailing address for listeners wishing to send in questions or Requests and Dedications] This program is a presentation of the Westwood One Radio Networks... [lists program staff]. I'm Casey Kasem. Until next week, when once again we'll count down the 40 biggest hits in the U.S.A., keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars, and leave your dial tuned right where it is.
    • Note that as the show's air dates were one week after the corresponding Radio and Records issue date, Casey did not mention the air date in the closing.]
    • Shadoe Stevens always ended his episodes with "So until we meet again, this is your best friend (in the void), D'Shadoe. Bye bye out there."
  • Evolving Music: Just like the music the show played, the Jingle packages used for the show evolved over the years.
    • When the show first started out in 1970, the theme accompanying the show's early was a heavy psychedelic Synth-Pop theme made using Moog synthesizers by Dallas jingle producer PAMS. By the mid-1970s, the theme would be retired for the longest-lasting intro "Shuckatoom", composed by Jim Long at TM Productions in a funk style. The theme would last until 1983 and would be joined in 1979 by the "Coast to Coast Fanfare" (or as the fans call it, "Dark Disco"), also by TM, done in the style of disco music of the period.
    • As the 1980s rolled around, the music would slowly evolve to fit with the times. The music in use at the time would be supplemented in both 1981 and 1982 by another Dallas company, JAM Creative Productions, who used a far lighter, more melodic tone for their music (used for the hour openers and closers, with bumpers added in for the 1982 package; similar to the sound they utilized for Dick Clark's show) than the harder sound employed by the TM tracks. For 1984, JAM would make a full package for the show. Taking cues from the shifts musical trends were taking at the time, this set utilized a mix of Synth-Pop, rock, and the company's trademark horn section with four individual tracks for the show opening, ending, and bottom and top-of-hour breaks. Alongside four sets of bumpers that were each mixed out into acapella and instrumental versions, with both the "The Hits From Coast to Coast" and "Casey's Coast to Coast" taglines used interchangeably for the bumpers leading into commercials. It would be supplemented by commercial bumpers carrying a much heavier synth sound for 1985. Conversely, the intro's opening notes —a rendition of the "Hits From Coast to Coast" tagline — would switch from futuristic synths to a full horn section in the process.
    • The theme and musical sound changed twice more in the late 1980s; the first happened in April 1987, when the show's sound got even more synthetic and grounded in MIDI. This package, done by Firstcom, was a smaller affair with two themes (show theme and hour theme) and four bumpers with the odd bit of production music thrown in every now and again. This package, accompanied by the number callout jingles from 1984's package, would last until 1989, several months into Shadoe Stevens' tenure, when LA-based HLC/Killer Music took over. Along with a new intro and end-of-hour/show theme, featuring a group of singers vocalizing the "American Top 40" riff for the first time in the show's history, HLC/Killer Music put their own spin on the general theme of "evolving with the times", with bumpers now in a range of styles from hip-hop to upbeat pop to hard rock to soft ballads. HLC would update the package one last time in 1992, with a new intro and new end of hour/end of show themes in a '90s pop style, plus many of the previous bumpers initially replaced with a new set featuring the previous styles — hard rock, upbeat pop, heavy piano ballads — in an even more "'90s" sound; these gradually gave way primarily to downright bizarre Totally Radical sounders featuring a digitally-deepened voice saying the show's title.
    • The revival from 1998 would once again update the style to sound contemporary to the music being played. The first two years utilized a package by the Seattle-based ReelWorld inspired by the music packages by JAM for Casey's Top 40. TM (now TM Century)note  took over in 2000, providing regular updates to the show's sound to fit with whatever style was popular during the period the package was made in. Though bumper music in general was discarded when Ryan Seacrest took over in 2004, the TM Century package continued to be used on Casey's AC countdowns until his retirement, with TM making assorted sounders for the main show until the late 2010s.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: The special countdown episodes were still top 40 countdowns, but the two "Book of Records" specials (1980 and 1989) dropped the countdown format entirely.
  • Guest Host:
    • Several episodes during Casey's original run of the show would feature a substitute host whenever he was unavailable. These would normally range be radio personalities or voice over artists, including Dick Clark, Wink Martindale, Gary Owens, ACC host Bob Kingsley, and frequent guest hosts and show Announcers Mark Elliot and Charlie van Dyke (with occasionally rotating show announcer Keri Tombazian also subbing in for a week during 1983, and another week in 1988). The second-to-last episode of his tenure being hosted by Daryl Hall & John Oates, a fact that didn't escape him when he returned the following week and announced that they just missed out on introducing their new hit, conveniently named "Missed Opportunity", which debuted at #38. This tradition would carry over to Casey's Top 40, with Elliot, and later David Perry serving as guest hosts.
    • Averted at one point during an unspecified point between 1976 and 1978, when radio Deejay and comedian Bob Hudson tried to fill in for a week, but had issues recording his intended episode and Casey stepped in to record it instead.
    • The show would go hard with this during Shadoe's run on the countdown, featuring episodes hosted by then-popular pop acts Jody Watley, Richard Marx, Debbie Gibson, and even Night Court star Harry Anderson. The current Ryan Seacrest run (Secrest himself having guest hosted during Casey's second tenure on the show) has had several pop stars fill in for him at different points including Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson and Lady Gaga, along with actors Neil Patrick Harris, Hailee Steinfeld and talk show host Jimmy Fallon.
  • In-Series Nickname: Shadoe would usually refer to the production staff as the "Whiplash Acrobatic Ensemble", mainly in the end credits, and would also give "X and the Ys" type names to the singers doing the number callouts.
  • Invincible Hero: In certain eras when a new song by certain artists debuted you could count on it eventually hitting the Top 5 if not #1, particularly if the song happened to debut on the Hot 100 within the Top 40, which, unlike today, was unusual in the '70s and '80s. Even if you liked the song you had to hunker down and get ready to hear it every single week for the next few months. Good examples are anything by the Gibb brothers in the late 70s or Michael Jackson in the 80s.
    • Averted with songs that entered the Hot 100 within the Top 40 and ultimately failed to even reach the top 10, such as "It's Raining Again" by Supertramp and "All Right" by Christopher Cross, both within a few months of each other in 1982-83.
    • The highest debuting song in AT40 history came when "Erotica" by Madonna entered the chart at No. 2 in 1992 (the show was using the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart by that time, not the Hot 100 itself). It was also a partial aversion of this trope, as it began dropping down the survey almost immediately.
  • Ironic Juxtaposition: The very first song played on the show in 1970 opened with Marvin Gaye singing "It's over, it's all over" ("The End of Our Road", #40 on the debut episode).
  • Long List/Top Ten List: Forty songs, plus a couple of extras, in four hours (originally three).
    • Year-end countdowns were usually even longer, usually (but not always) stretching to 100 songs, even with the lack of extras and with many of the songs edited for time constraints (year-end shows were typically presented in two four-hour sweeps with 50 songs each, with a few years during the mid-80s just having the list run continuously for the full 8-hour period. It also varied from year to year just how many of, and how drastically, the songs were edited).
  • Montages: A staple of the year-end programs during the 1970s (1974-1978), and then again sporadically in the 1980s; this was simply the No. 1 songs during the past year, often in chronological order. Casey would tease that somewhere included was the No. 1 song of the year – except for 1975, when not only were the songs not necessarily in order, but the year's top song (Captain and Tennille's "Love Will Keep Us Together") was not included, which Kasem pointed out shortly before playing the song.
    • These would also show up time and again during the regular episodes to highlight a factoid on a song on the chart, a song that was a cover with multiple previous versions, or to highlight a genre or style of music.
  • New Year Has Come: The special year-end "Top 100" countdowns, spotlighting the top 100 songs of the year. An abbreviated countdown of 40 songs was introduced in 2010. Starting in 2016, year-end positions 41-50 were noted on the show's website, but not played on the show itself.
    • AT40 actually didn't feature a year-end Top 100 survey until 1974, as the year-end countdowns during the early years of the show were either a Top 40 (1971 and 1973) or a Top 80 (1970 and 1972).
      • Often the show would also compile its own Top 100 list rather than use the one prepared by Billboard. Billboard counted a song's entire chart life on the top 100, resulting in some surprisingly high year-end rankings for songs like Moving Pictures' No. 29 hit "What About Me?" which spent a long time on the top 100 though not a long time in the top 40. AT40 eliminated the confusion by taking only the single's chart life within the top 40 into account.
    • Other exceptions came at the end of a decade: the year-end survey for 1979 was a Top 50 so that the show could make room for a special countdown of the Top 50 hits of the 1970s. Similarly, Casey's Top 40 kept 1989's year-end list to a Top 40 and then offered a countdown of the Top 40 number-one songs of the 1980s (from the Radio and Records chart, not Billboard's).
  • Nothing but Hits: The entire premise of the program. Averted in hindsight by the syndicated reruns, featuring hit songs of their day which have long since dropped off the charts.
    • The Long Distance Dedications were usually songs that had been Top 40 hits, but there were a few exceptions (typically ones with very dramatic stories).
  • Opening Narration: Many of Kasem's shows during the 1970-88 AT40 era featured some variation of the following:
    Casey Kasem: Hello again, and welcome to American Top 40. My name's Casey Kasem, and I'm all set to count down the 40 biggest hits in the U.S.A. According to the official Billboard survey, these are the records that you're buying and radio stations are playing all over America this week. So let's warm up with our recap of last week's Top Three...
    • A version featured in the second show of 1984 would have him acknowledge the new theme music that was introduced with the episode playing underneath him before looking into the top 3 songs of the previous week.
    • Casey's Top 40 version:
    Casey Kasem: Hello again, everybody, and welcome to Casey's Top 40. My name's Casey Kasem, and I'm all set to count down the 40 biggest hits on the pop chart. Our rankings come from the official survey of radio stations from coast to coast; the survey is conducted by Radio and Records, the industry's number one newspaper. Well, we have ___ debuts, including the latest hits by ____ and ____. But before we start countin' 'em down to No. 1, let's take a look at the songs that topped the chart last week. At number three, ____ by ____. At number two, _____ with _____. And at number one last week, ____ by ____. Now ____'s going for a ____ big week at number one; can he/she/they make it? Only one way to find out - let the countdown begin!
  • Previously on…: Starting in February 1979, Kasem played back the top 3 songs from the previous week's show to lead off the countdown. This segment eventually would be shortened to feature just the No. 1 song of last week, and by the end of Kasem's original run (in 1988) and on into the Shadoe Stevens-era, the host would simply announce the songs at and near the top of the charts before beginning the show.
    • Early on, Casey's Top 40 briefly revived the old practice of playing back only last week's No. 1 song at the beginning of each show. This practice had ended by 1995.
  • Production Foreshadowing:
    • Kasem didn't host the second-to-last show of his original tenure in 1988. Instead, Daryl Hall & John Oates guest-hosted. That marked the first time the show had a celebrity guest host; previously guest hosts had always been DJs (though a few, like Bob Eubanks and Wink Martindale, were also famous as game show hosts). Celebrity guest hosts became common in all later editions of the show.
    • Similarly, the "Top 40 Newcomers of the 1980s" special, aired the weekend before Memorial Day 1988, featured audio interview clips of several artists in the countdown, something that had never been done before on the program. Though it wouldn't happen again for the remainder of Kasem's run, audio interview clips of countdown-featured musical artists (and celebrities in general) would become commonplace in the Shadoe Stevens years.
  • Quietly Performing Sister Show: American Country Countdown is radio's longest-running, continuously produced syndicated program, outlasting AT40 (whose current run dates from 1998, the year it was Un-Cancelled after its first run ended in 1995).
  • A Rare Sentence: Kasem would sometimes make a remark to this effect when an already established album-oriented, genre or touring act made their debut on the show. For example, he noted "I'm beginning to think I'd never say this, but that's The Grateful Dead in our countdown," when that legendary jam band first appeared on the show in August 1987 with their only Top 40 single "Touch of Grey".
  • Rearrange the Song: Some songs would be cut in half to control the show's running time; this typically happened to songs that were on their way down the charts. However, sometimes the #1 song and even Long Distance Dedications were edited similarly.
    • Songs that weren't typically played on the Top 40 radio format despite being in the literal Top 40 (for a variety of reasons, such as being too heavy) also received this treatment on the show, including Metallica's "Enter Sandman" and Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit". This practice decreased as the 90s went on and as the show switched to airplay-only charts, and songs like Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" were played in their normal radio edits.
    • Individual radio stations had the leeway to delete entire songs from the show if so desired, typically regarding songs with controversial lyrical content such as "My Ding-a-Ling" by Chuck Berry or "I Want Your Sex" by George Michael.
    • Beginning late in Kasem's original run, the beginnings of songs would often be repeated (and repeated and REPEATED) in a loop to provide Casey with a music bed during his song intro. This practice became especially noticeable during the Shadoe Stevens era.
    • Premire's run of the show tends to do this frequently to make from for extras and more commercials.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • When "With a Little Luck" by Wings debuted at #17 in 1978, Casey said it was the highest debut in the show's history. Oops! Several songs had already debuted at a higher position, and the record holder was actually "Theme From Shaft" by Isaac Hayes, which debuted at #9 in 1971.
    • On occasion listeners wrote with corrections to erroneous information given on the show, and the corrections were often read on the air by Casey.
    • AT40 did not air a decade-end countdown for the 1980s. When the show did recaps of the top hits of previous decades in 2009 and 2019, Ryan Seacrest announced "Every Breath You Take" by The Police as the #1 of the 1980s, which was as per the rankings of Radio & Records, the predecessor of the chart AT40 currently uses. This was despite the Billboard Hot 100 (which AT40 used in 1989) placing "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John at that decade's top spot.
      • Casey's Top 40 did air a decade-end countdown of the Top 40 Number One Songs of the '80s (again, according to Radio & Records), which, as noted above, featured The Police at number one. "Physical" peaked at #2 on the R&R chart; thus, it wasn't included in that countdown. However, when CT40 did a special countdown of the Top 40 Million-Sellers of the '80s (based on single sales figures), they ranked "Physical" at #2, behind only USA for Africa's "We Are the World."
      • On that same Casey's Top 40 decade-end show, Casey played "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John and Kiki Dee as a countdown extra, citing it as the #1 song of the 1970s, again based on Radio & Records chart data. When AT40 did its original 1970s decade-end show a decade earlier, the #1 song (using Billboard data) was "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone.
    • When AT40 returned in 1998, anytime Casey Kasem referred to songs' chart histories between 1989-1994, he would use data previously aired on Casey's Top 40 instead of data aired on the Shadoe Stevens era of AT40.
    • Also, during the run of Casey's Top 40, Casey made reference to Billboard chart data when discussing pre-1973 hits and to Radio & Records data when discussing post-1973 hits, since R&R began publishing in 1973. For example, in answering a listener question on CT40 about the first rap record to reach number one on the pop charts, Casey cited the answer as "U Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer, which hit #1 on the R&R chart in 1990 while only reaching #8 on the Billboard chart. (In an odd coincidence, "Rapture" by Blondie, the first rap record to reach #1 in Billboard, only reached #8 in R&R.)
  • Shout-Out:
    • Casey gave one to his own Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! character on one show, giving part of the introduction to one song in his "Shaggy" voice.
    • When "The Curly Shuffle" by Jump in the Saddle was on the countdown in 1984, it wasn't uncommon for Casey to do the Curly laugh whenever it was brought up.
    • Name dropping a small handful of the stations that carried the program, often ending with one to Armed Forces Radio, was a common occurrence during each episode of the show.
    • Shadoe-era promos recorded by the man himself would occasionally have him asking a (rhetorical) question about "who knows" where a given artist would end up on the countdown, then follow it up with "Ah... D'Shadoe knows."
  • Spin-Off:
    • American Country Countdown, a country music-version of AT40 that premiered in 1973 and is still going strong today. The current host is Kix Brooks (one half of the long-running duo Brooks & Dunn); before him were original host Don Bowman (who once guest-hosted AT40) and later, Bob Kingsley (the host at the height of ACC's run).
    • Casey's Countdown (premiered 1992, originally 25 songs long and later shortened to 20), later renamed to American Top 20 (simultaneously with the return of AT40 in 1998), even later renamed to American Top 10 (with the "bottom 10" replaced by more extras). Hosted by Casey, all three programs were essentially American Top 40 for the Adult Contemporary market - or more accurately, Casey's Top 40 for the AC market, since they also used Radio and Records charts.
    • There was also Casey's Hot 20 (premiered 1994) for "hot adult contemporary" or "adult top 40" radio stations, which was *also* renamed to "American Top 20", although the two AT20s remained distinct shows based on different charts.
      • Even after relinquishing AT40 hosting duties to Seacrest, Kasem continued hosting the AC countdown shows until his retirement in 2009.
    • Previously, a similar program, America's Top 10 (also hosted by Casey), had aired from 1980 to 1992; unlike the former shows, AT10 was a music video showcase and aired on television.
  • Spiritual Successor: Casey's Top 40, created the year after Casey left AT40 and running from 1989-1998. The program even used the "Casey's Coast to Coast!" bumper that had been present in AT40. The biggest difference was the use of an airplay-only chart from Radio and Records magazine rather than the Billboard Hot 100. Casey even referred to his new show as CT40 (no relation to the current Country Top 40 country-music countdown show hosted by Bob Kingsley, the original host of AT40 sister show American Country Countdown) during its first few months on the air, which was reflected in the accompanying commercial bumpers and which quickly drew the ire of AT40 distributor ABC/Watermark, who sued Westwood One to stop this practice.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: A Long Distance Dedication from 1984 went something like this: Boy meets girl, boy and girl get together, girl goes to another school and by chance, boy ends up also moving to the same school as her. However, they can't rekindle their relationship until boy writes to an advice column for help; boy heeds the advice given to him, boy and girl get back together, and stay together up to final exams. Eventually, boy and girl end up engaged and girl reveals that she is pregnant with boy's child. When it comes time for their wedding, girl goes into labor. Boy follows her to the hospital, and after some time, is informed that girl successfully gave birth to their baby... only to also find out that girl died doing so, which leaves boy devastated. The kicker to all this is that said baby, a girl, ended up being named after the dead wife.
  • Third-Person Person: Especially in promos, Shadoe Stevens would often refer to himself by his nickname, "D'Shadoe".
  • Vocal Evolution:
    • Casey's vocal tone shifted several times over the years, which he later acknowledged, though he said it wasn't intentional. In the first few years he had a laid-back, vaguely hipster-ish style, then shifted to a warmer, more friendly approach. His late 70s/early 80s persona has been called "Disco Casey": slick, energetic and enthusiastic. After that he settled into a more avuncular and authoritative style.
    • The number call-outs would follow something similar, starting with a full choir-type style until 1975. Then a more shrill-sounding all-female group was utilized for a year before going back to the full voiced choir sound, but with added synths underneath. To a more youthful five-voice group introduced in 1984 that would become the show's main sound, alternating with a similarly newly recorded seven-voice choir depending on the tempo of the song until late mid-1989. The Shadoe run further changed them to accommodate a more hip hop style.
  • What Happened to the Mouse? and Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: An occasional feature was "Whatever Happened To ... ?" where Casey would profile a one-hit wonder, or early prolific star of the rock era who suddenly disappeared off the charts, quit recording, etc. Casey would simply explain what said artist (or group, as appropriately) had been doing in recent years, if they were involved with current projects, and so forth.
    • One of the most popular "Whatever Happened To ... ?" stories was of The Singing Nun, a Belgian singer christened Jeanine Deckers who recorded the French language-recorded "Dominque" and had a huge No. 1 hit in the United States in late 1963. Casey's stories on Deckers would always explain that The Singing Nun gave all royalties to the convent but later left the Catholic church in the late 1960s, and later the Belgian government made a claim for back taxes to the tune of $63,000 ... more than Deckers could afford, and no documentation existed that she had donated anything to charity. (The common stories are that her attorney failed to document it and/or that the Catholic church had either destroyed all records of it after they and Deckers broke ties, or that they simply did not have any more responsibility for her and did not have the funds.) Updated several times through the years, the final chapter came in 1985 when Casey announced that Deckers had died (of suicide) at age 51.
    • Two entire specials were based on the What Happened to the Mouse? concept – one in July 1973 and the other in April 1975 – where Casey played the biggest singles by one-hit wonders during the rock era. The 1975 special had a slightly different chart, with a few different songs added and a different No. 1 song.
      • With one of the "Whatever Happened To ..." artists profiled in the original 1973 special, that artist was deleted from the 1975 updated special. It seemed that Janis Ian, whose 1967 hit "Society's Child" was played for the 1973 show, had just released a new single, "At Seventeen," and although it had yet to make the Hot 100, there were already strong vibes about the song. (It also didn't hurt that Janis Ian had appeared on the LP and adult-contemporary singles charts in the years since "Society's Child.") The good feeling was justified: The song became a long-running hit in the summer of '75, eventually peaking at No. 3.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: A 1975 episode, celebrating the show's fifth anniversary, was a rebroadcast of the very first AT40 from July 4, 1970. The only difference was Kasem occasionally inserting a bumper reminding listeners that this was indeed a program from 1970, and pre- and post-show remarks.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: When Kasem started Casey's Top 40 he was able use the same segments that he'd done on AT40 but he couldn't use the same names. So for example, the "Long Distance Dedication" became the "Request & Dedication" (introduced with an instrumental jingle, a new feature on the new show).
    • Also, Kasem often referred to the show as CT40 in the show's first few months, which sounded a bit too close to "AT40". The show even had a "''CT40'' with Casey Kasem" jingle. This practice ended in June of 1989 after ABC/Watermark successfully sued Casey's Top 40 producer Westwood One to stop it.
  • Younger and Hipper: There was a major overhaul in this direction after Shadoe Stevens replaced Casey Kasem, and another similar overhaul in January 2004 when Ryan Seacrest replaced Casey Kasem on the revival.

"Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars!"