Friday, May 11, 2007

Casey Kasem & WJBK

This Detroit station launched the career of Casey Kasem. Its hard to say today wether that was a pro or con culturally, but the man has fans. That's inarguable. Anybody ever hear that audio of casey complaining about a callers deceased pet? It's worth the click I assure you.

WLQV-AM is that magical station. Their 50k watt daytime signal reaches south to Toledo, and from Lansing, Michigan to Chatham, Ontario, Canada. These days they run a bland Christian talk format. but that's not how it used to be. Once long ago they mattered in the world of rock n' roll.

They first signed on as 1290 WJBK-AM in 1925, licensed to the suburb of Ypsilanti. Two years later, WJBK moved to 1360 and in 1930, to 1370. In 1940, WJBK was re-licensed to Detroit on 1490 AM. It was all but acedemic at that point. They'd already been a detroit station for decades. In 1954, they moved to its current dial position at 1500 AM. In 1956, WJBK became the first radio station in Detroit to feature the Top 40 format.

It was then that Casey arrived. He left his part time gigs at WJLD and WXYZ and because "Casey at the mike" for WJBK. He did awful thankless jobs radio acting, dressing as a clown, and late night shifts. He literally had to take off his Krogo the Clown make-up in four minutes or else do his radio show in a clown suit. He didn't' start counting down for another 13 years.

Kasem left Detroit’s airwaves in late 1957 for radio stations in Cleveland, Buffalo, Oakland and eventually Los Angeles. It was in Oakland where he developed his unique style of introducing songs with uplifting stories about the lives of music artists. American Top 40 with Casey Kasem made it’s syndicated debut on July 4, 1970. For more than thirty years Kasem counted down the hits, until his last AT-40 broadcast on July 7, 2004.