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Trivia / American Top 40

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  • Book-Ends: A variation applies regarding Debbie Gibson. The final Casey Kasem-hosted show of the original American Top 40 (August 6, 1988) featured the teenage pop star at #40 on the Billboard chart, falling nine notches with her former #1, "Foolish Beat." The first installment of Casey's Top 40, aired the weekend of January 21, 1989, featured another Gibson song in the #40 position: "Lost in Your Eyes," which debuted at #40 on the Radio and Records chart and would hit #1 six weeks later. (Both songs hit #1 on both Billboard and R&R.)
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  • Chart Displacement: Happens quite a bit in the 1990s, because Casey's Top 40 used the Radio and Records CHR Top 40 chart instead of the Billboard Hot 100, and he kept using it when he returned to American Top 40. That meant that songs that were huge, inescapable radio hits that were deemed ineligible to chart on the Hot 100 due to rules on physical single release made it onto Casey's chart. Likewise, several songs that made it onto the Hot 100, but not into its Top 40 were included on the Radio and Records chart. This meant that an artist would have a completely different track record on Kasem's show than what's in Billboard's archives.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Casey Kasem was known for attention to detail and perfection, and he would become annoyed or sometimes outright angry if something didn't go right. This was played to perfection in September 1985, when taping an episode that had what's been referred to by fans as the "Dead Dog Dedication." In that episode, the uptempo dance song "Dare Me" by The Pointer Sisters was to be followed by a Long Distance Dedication from a listener wanting to eulogize his beloved pet dog (which had recently died) with the ballad "Shannon" by Henry Grossnote  As Kasemnote  was reading the letter during the original take, he snapped and went into a profanity-laced tirade (including several f-word utterances) about how he believed a song about death was inappropriately slotted after a dance song. Kasem later calmed down and re-recorded the take, and of course the rant never made it to air, but the original take was preserved on tape and circulated among engineers for years. It later became popular through bloopers specials and sites such as YouTube.
    • Of course, this is not the only time Kasem lost his temper while taping AT40. Another clip circulates on YouTube where he became irritated at having to record individual station promos for station affiliates, believing it to be a waste of time. Included between takes were several words and commentary about the towns served by the affiliates fit only to be heard by a sailor.note 
      • There's also the outtake where he objects to the detailed biography of U2 he was given to read when "Pride (In The Name of Love)" hit the Top 40. "These guys are from England and who gives a sh*t?!" Immortalized in Negativland's "The Letter U and the Numeral 2", which is a sampling of this and the previously mentioned rants (along with other Kasem AT40 voice clips) set to an intentionally-crude instrumental rendition of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", and yes, Negativland got in hot water for it.
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  • Dueling Shows: Rick Dees' Weekly Top 40 and, ironically enough, Casey's Top 40 in the early 1990s. For the Music Video side of things, Top 20 Video Countdown for America's Top 10.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes:
    • The entirety of Shadoe Stevens' run is apparently intact, but the rights are not owned by Premiere Radio Networks alongside Casey Kasem's episodes, instead being owned by Cumulus Media (interestingly enough, now owners of Westwood One, rights holders of Casey's Top 40). This explains why the iHeartRADIO app doesn't broadcast Stevens-era episodes on its Classic American Top 40 channel, though Stevens himself uploaded a video to his own personal YouTube account stating episodes had been remastered and were ready for packaging a la Casey Kasem's American Top 40: The '70s/'80s, so they may soon appear elsewhere.
    • The majority of Casey Kasem's second run on the program (1998-2004), although the charts themselves from 2001 onward are available on the countdown's website. Unlike the Shadoe Stevens example above, however, iHeart's Classic American Top 40 channel has aired three episodes from this period as "special broadcasts": an edition dealing with the top artists of the '90s, a special "Y2K" edition dealing with "40 Days That Changed Music" that originally aired on New Year's Day 2000, and Kasem's final broadcast from January 4, 2004.
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    • Also extends to the whole of Casey's Top 40, which, according to Westwood One, is completely gone aside from circulating copies. Episodes of all three mentioned versions can, as always, be found on YouTube.
    • A YouTube account whose owner has an extensive collection of American Top 40 and Casey's Top 40 recordings has been uploading episodes of both shows. The songs are clipped out in the upload due to copyright reasons, but they're the most complete public archive of Kasem's radio career thus far.
  • Missing Episode: The master tape for the final hour of the second-ever episode (July 11, 1970) has disappeared. In 2016, radio producer Ken Martin re-created a third hour of the show, using bits from AT40 shows from July and August 1970; the show aired on several radio stations as part of the "AT40: The 70s" package.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • In radio parlance, a "train wreck" transition is where one song of a particular style is played after another song of a completely different style, for instance a soft, light-hearted ballad played before or after a hard rock song. Radio programmers strive hard to avoid these unless impossible to do so. In any given week's show, one or more of these transitions were part of the show ... inherently so, because often a ballad listed at, say No. 24, might be followed by a hard rock song at No. 23. While sometimes Casey or the producers would break up the potential transition with a commercial or playing an extra (using a song of an in-between style, to bridge between, say, the ballad and hard rock song), many other shows have been unable to avoid this.
    • In some markets, AT40 was heard not on the local Top-40 station, but on a station that played primarily adult contemporary, middle of the road, or album rock music. Depending on the composition of that week's Top 40 records, that would have put a station whose primary music format consisted of Barbra Streisand or Barry Manilow in the position of playing a Pat Benatar or Led Zeppelin song (or vice versa) - that is, assuming said station did not delete the records that didn't fit its playlist from the show (which stations had the option to do). Regional differences and other variations within the Top-40 format itself likely also accounted for similar disconnects between the content of AT40 and local affiliates' playlists. For example, memos archived by ''AT40'' historian/expert Pete Battistini illustrate that as early as 1973, some affiliate stations in predominantly white areas had concerns about the amount of "non-hit" R&B played on the show.
    • The reason behind Kasem's infamous "Dead Dog Dedication" tirade while taping the September 14, 1985 show. When he realized, during taping, that he had just played the uptempo dance song "Dare Me" by the Pointer Sisters and now was being asked to play the mournful ballad "Shannon" by Henry Gross as a Long Distance Dedication ... he completely lost it. He apparently lost his patience with his staff constantly slotting songs — especially extras — in such a way that "train wreck" transitions were becoming too common, and that playing a narmish ballad after an uptempo dance song was simply inappropriate. In the end, Casey calmed down and delivered a take as intended, but rarely were two songs of completely different styles played before or after one another unless it could not be avoided.
  • Short Run in Peru: In July 1994 ABC Radio pulled American Top 40 from its affiliates and replaced it with The Rick Dees Weekly Top 40, meaning that the final six months of Shadoe Stevens' hosting stint were only heard outside the US.
  • Screwed by the Network: American Top 40's production company, Watermark, was purchased by ABC Radio in 1982. Much of the reason AT40 went off the air in 1995 was because it was getting beaten in the ratings by Casey's Top 40 and The Rick Dees Weekly Top 40. But both of those shows existed because of questionable moves by ABC regarding American Top 40. When ABC insisted that AT40 affiliates start airing other ABC shows and commercials, many of them dropped the show. One of the stations, KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, had their morning DJ Rick Dees start his own countdown show, which soon went into syndication and was quickly picked up by other former AT40 stations. Then when Casey Kasem's contract came up for renewal in 1988, ABC (who reportedly was eager to bring in a younger host) turned down his salary proposal, so Kasem left to start another show.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Weekly Top 40 host Rick Dees was reportedly interested in taking over as host of the current version following Casey Kasem's 2004 departure, but Premiere Networks, wanting to give the show a complete makeover, went with Ryan Seacrest instead.
    • Casey Kasem introducing "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang on the countdown would've been a truly historic moment: an icon lifting the curtain on a new era in pop music. Unfortunately, it never happened. "Rapper's Delight" only spent two weeks in the Top 40. The first week, the regular countdown was pre-empted for a "Top 50 Hits of The '70s" special countdown. The second week, Casey took the week off and substitute host Mike Cleary was the one who got to make the announcement.
    • Casey might have ended up working for Westwood One (producers and distributors of Casey's Top 40) as early as 1982, as Westwood One was said to be one of the parties interested in purchasing AT40 production company Watermark. In the end, Watermark sold to ABC, who proved to be quite aggressive in getting new affiliate stations - including pulling the show off non-network affiliates in certain markets.
      • For example, in Chicago, AT40 was heard during the very early '80s on CBS-owned WBBM-FM. After ABC's purchase of Watermark, ABC had the show moved to their owned-and-operated 50,000-watt giant WLS-AM (which by then was fading in popularity due to competition from FM stations). (WBBM-FM (B96) would regain Casey in 1989 when the station became a Casey's Top 40 affiliate.)


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