Gary Shannon — My Dinner With Casey Kasem
I’ve been following the story of Casey Kasem for several weeks now and I was saddened, but not shocked when he passed away.
I met Casey several years ago and he was very down to earth and fun to talk with.
Here’s what happened.
Back in the early 80’s I attended a radio convention in Chicago and among the celebrities there were Paul Harvey and Casey Kasem. Paul Harvey was the main speaker at dinner and let me tell you the man kept about a thousand radio veterans hanging on to every word he said. The man was an amazing speaker. Of course, I was just one of a thousand listening to Harvey, but my meeting with Casey was much more personal.
The folks that distributed his show had a hospitality suite in the Chicago Hilton and it was reported that Casey would be there. I had been a fan since my first days in radio and I hoped to get to meet him. Well, I got to do more than meet him.
I was introduced to Casey and when I first met him what struck me most was the voice. I mean he sounded exactly the way he sounds on American Top 40. It was almost like he was putting me on. The voice, the phrasing, the whole package was just like listening to him on the radio.
While we were talking he mentioned that he had just gotten married a month or so prior and I told him that I had too. We both broke out our wallets and shared pictures of our wives. It was like hanging out with an old friend.
During the conversation, he asked me if I was a fan of the TV show MASH. Well, who wasn’t? Then he asked me if I remembered an episode where the gang orders ribs from a place called Adam’s Rib across the street from the Dearborn Street Station. Well, I told him it was one of my favorite episodes. He informed me that the rib place was real except that, in real life, it was called Carson’s and would I like to go there. What would you have said. I blurted out, “of course’, whereupon Casey picked up the phone and called his limo.
We arrived at Carson’s to find a line out the door and down the street. Casey sent his driver in and after a few shorts words with the management, we were shown to a table. We walked right past the line. Now, that’s power.
The rest of the dinner was just dinner. We exchanged a lot of radio talk and stories of places we had worked and that was about it. But, I’ll never forget how nice and gracious the man was.
In case you’re wondering, yeah, the ribs were good enough to have delivered to Korea.
Broadcasting and listeners alike have lost an icon and one heck of a nice man.