American Top 40

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American Top 40
Americantop40.jpg
The American Top 40 logo
GenreMusic chart show, talk
Running timeApprox. 4 hrs. (including commercials)
CountryUnited States United States
SyndicatesPremiere Radio Networks
Host(s)Ryan Seacrest (2004-present)
Casey Kasem (1970-1988, 1998-2003)
Shadoe Stevens (1988-1995)
various guest hosts
AnnouncerKelly Doherty
Dave Foxx
Creator(s)Casey Kasem, Don Bustany, Tom Rounds and Ron Jacobs
Producer(s)Claudine Cazian
Air datesJuly 4, 1970 to present
(did not air between January 28, 1995 and March 28, 1998)
No. of episodes2,077 (as of July 6, 2013)
Websitewww.at40.com
 
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American Top 40
Americantop40.jpg
The American Top 40 logo
GenreMusic chart show, talk
Running timeApprox. 4 hrs. (including commercials)
CountryUnited States United States
SyndicatesPremiere Radio Networks
Host(s)Ryan Seacrest (2004-present)
Casey Kasem (1970-1988, 1998-2003)
Shadoe Stevens (1988-1995)
various guest hosts
AnnouncerKelly Doherty
Dave Foxx
Creator(s)Casey Kasem, Don Bustany, Tom Rounds and Ron Jacobs
Producer(s)Claudine Cazian
Air datesJuly 4, 1970 to present
(did not air between January 28, 1995 and March 28, 1998)
No. of episodes2,077 (as of July 6, 2013)
Websitewww.at40.com

American Top 40 (commonly abbreviated to AT40) is an internationally syndicated, independent song countdown radio program created by Casey Kasem, Don Bustany, Tom Rounds and Ron Jacobs. The program is hosted by Ryan Seacrest.

Originally a production of Watermark Inc. (later a division of ABC Radio, now Cumulus Media Networks), AT40 is now distributed by Premiere Radio Networks in the United States, Canada, Australia, the Philippines, Singapore, China, India, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and several other territories worldwide. It can also be heard on Xbox Live via the iHeartRadio application, and on iPhone via the AT40 Mobile App available on iTunes.

Co-creator Casey Kasem hosted the original AT40 from its inauguration on July 4, 1970 until August 6, 1988 and returned to host the revived version from March 28, 1998 to January 3, 2004 (for much of the interim, he hosted the competing Casey's Top 40). AT40's other two regular hosts have been Shadoe Stevens (1988–1995) and current host Seacrest (since 2004). Currently, AT40 with Seacrest airs in two different formats - one for Contemporary Hit Radio and one for Adult Contemporary (formerly Hot Adult Contemporary) stations - with no on-air differentiation other than the charts themselves. Kasem is still heard in two weekly replays of vintage shows from the '70s and '80s, respectively.

In its early years, the AT40 used the Billboard charts to compile the countdown, touting it as "the only source". The program subsequently switched to being based on Radio and Records airplay data upon its late 1990s return.[1] Currently the AT40 is based on data from Mediabase, which is also published in the Tuesday Edition of USA Today.

History[edit]

1970-1988: First Casey Kasem era[edit]

Here we go with the Top 40 hits of the nation this week on American Top 40, the best-selling and most-played songs from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico. This is Casey Kasem in Hollywood, and in the next three hours, we'll count down the 40 most popular hits in the United States this week, hot off the record charts of Billboard magazine for the week ending July 11, 1970. In this hour at #32 in the countdown, a song that's been a hit 4 different times in 19 years! And we're just one tune away from the singer with the $10,000 gold hubcaps on his car![2][3] Now, on with the countdown!
 
— Casey Kasem at the beginning of the inaugural AT40 broadcast

American Top 40 began on the Independence Day weekend in 1970, on seven radio stations, the very first being KDEO in El Cajon, California (now KECR), which broadcast the inaugural show the evening of July 3, 1970.[4] The chart data broadcast actually included the top 40 songs from the week ending July 11, 1970. The very first show featured the very last time both Elvis Presley and The Beatles had songs simultaneously in the Top 10.[5] It was originally distributed by Watermark Inc., and was first presented in mono until it started recording in stereo in September 1972.[6] In early 1982, Watermark was purchased by ABC Radio and AT40 became a program of the "ABC Contemporary Radio Network". The program was hosted by Casey Kasem and co-created by Kasem; Don Bustany; Tom Rounds; and 93/KHJ Program Director Ron Jacobs, who produced and directed the various production elements. Rounds was also the marketing director; the initial funder was California strawberry grower Tom Driscoll.

The show began as a three-hour program written and directed by Bustany, counting down the top 40 songs on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart. The show quickly gained popularity once it was commissioned, and expanded to a four hour-program on October 7, 1978, to reflect the increasing average length of singles on Billboard's Hot 100 chart. The producing staff expanded to eight people, some of them still in the business: Nikki Wine, Ben Marichal, Scott Paton, Matt Wilson, Merrill Shindler, Guy Aoki, Ronnie Allen and Sandy Stert Benjamin. (Bustany retired from AT40 in 1989; since 1994, he has hosted a political talk show on listener-sponsored KPFK.) By the early 1980s, the show could be heard on 520 stations in the United States[7] and around the world in 50 countries.

Features of the Kasem-era shows[edit]

During Kasem's run as host, the AT40 show had a number of popular and distinguishing features:

Stunning achievement for 33-year-old New York born Jim Steinman. Jim was writing musicals when he was going to Amherst College in Massachusetts. But not just your basic rock & roll tunes, but words and music for a full-blown musical called the Dream Engine. That show was seen by a man who heads up the New York Shakespeare Festival, Joseph Papp, and he was so impressed, that he bought the rights to it and commissioned Jim Steinman to write another musical. Jim came up with a show called More Than You Deserve. And it was at auditions for that show, that he met a singer calling himself Meat Loaf. The two men started working together and that collaboration resulted in Jim's writing and arranging songs for Meat Loaf, including the big hit "Two out of Three Ain't Bad". In 1981 Jim Steinman released his first solo album Bad for Good. It featured the Top 40 hit "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through". But so far it seems as though the thing that Jim Steinman does best, is write and arrange songs for other artists. And his latest productions are his biggest yet: The number 2 and the number 1 song this week. Probably first time on the chart for one individual. We just heard the number 2 song he wrote and produced for Air Supply, "Making Love out of Nothing at All". Now here is the other one, the one at the very top. (drumroll) The most popular song in the land, for the second consecutive week is a hit written and produced by Jim Steinman. At number 1 Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

Although the show's format obviously implied an average of ten countdown songs per hour (once the show had gone to a four-hour format), this was not rigidly enforced; however, by the mid-1980s it had become increasingly rare for the final hour of the show to have any more than the top eleven or any fewer than the top nine songs left to play. The songs' run times determined how many would comfortably fit into each hour. The show bent to fit the Billboard rankings which, to many listeners, were sacred, and some songs had to be edited (in addition to whatever edits had been done for single release), with a verse and/or chorus chopped out (usually for songs that are falling down from the charts), in order to fit into the show. But Casey and his producers never lost sight of the fact that the same music was being played on other stations everywhere, and that the stories behind the songs were the chief reason that listeners tuned to AT40.

1988-1995: Shadoe Stevens era[edit]

In 1988, Kasem left the show over contract concerns with ABC. Industry trade paper Billboard magazine reported that the main disputes between Kasem and Watermark/ABC were over his salary, because of declining ratings and a smaller group of stations airing the show. Casey's final AT40 show aired on August 6, 1988. At no point during that final show did Kasem ever let on that any changes were afoot, and simply omitted the phrase "join me next week" while closing the show.

Kasem was replaced by Shadoe Stevens, whose first American Top 40 show aired on August 13, 1988, on 1,014 stations.[10] Kasem joined the Westwood One radio network less than a year later to start a rival show, Casey's Top 40. Many AT40 listeners were upset by Kasem's departure and, as a result, many stations dropped American Top 40 in favor of Casey's Top 40 once it hit the airwaves on January 21, 1989. In an attempt to win back an audience, AT40 tried new show features, including interview clips, music news, top 5 flashbacks, and previews of upcoming chart hits (called the "AT40 Sneek Peek"[11]). AT40 in its later Shadoe years frequently used a "No Nuttin'" gimmick, in which the number jingle was followed by the song, with no introduction by Shadoe; this tactic irked critics of the show.[12]

Casey's Top 40 was based on the Contemporary Hit Radio/Pop tracks chart in Radio & Records magazine, which at the time was the same chart source as Rick Dees' Weekly Top 40. American Top 40 was briefly canceled in the USA on July 9, 1994,[13] when then-owner ABC withdrew the show and acquired the rights to rival Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 (since headed back to ABC Radio/Citadel Media). AT40 ended up in the hands of Radio Express[14] (its overseas distributors since the 1980s, founded by AT40 co-founder Tom Rounds),[15] and was also canceled in the remaining foreign markets on January 28, 1995. These foreign markets replaced it with a similar format called The World Chart Show.

1998-2003: American Top 40 returns; second Casey Kasem era[edit]

In 1997, Casey Kasem acquired the rights to the American Top 40 name. At the time, Kasem was still doing Casey's Top 40 and he went to his syndicator looking to change the name of his program, as the name had not been used since Shadoe Stevens' AT40 was cancelled in 1995. Westwood One would not grant Kasem's request and as a result, Kasem ended his program and left Westwood One. In 1998, he pitched the revived AT40 idea to AMFM Radio Networks, which was owned by Chancellor Media,[16] and on March 28, 1998 the brand new American Top 40 began airing. In addition to the revived AT40, Kasem's other programs done for adult contemporary stations moved with him to AMFM and most Chancellor-owned stations with Top 40 and AC formats began airing the shows (see Spin-off programming below).

The resurrected American Top 40 kept the Radio and Records CHR/Pop chart previously used for "Casey's Top 40" and was used as the basis for the show for the majority of this period. The only exception was a brief period from October 2000 to August 2001 when an obscure Mediabase chart was used. This chart had a rather ambiguous recurrent rule, which would see songs removed weekly from the chart from as high as #10.

2004-present: Ryan Seacrest era[edit]

On January 10, 2004, Ryan Seacrest took over the hosting duties of American Top 40 from Kasem, although Kasem would continue to host American Top 20 and American Top 10 until his retirement in July 2009.[17] With the host change, AT40 underwent a makeover, using a new theme song and introducing several new features. These extras included interviews with celebrities (which were not restricted to musical or countdown artists), a gossip section, and an update on movies screening in cinemas. Other extras inducted on a regular basis include "AT40 Breakout", a song predicted to crack the chart within the next few weeks (formerly known as the "Out of The Box" hit); "Request Line", a segment in which Ryan Seacrest will play a song requested by a listener; "Double Play", a former hit from the artist just played; "AT40 Sleaze" (inspired by the "Dees Sleaze" segment of the Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 radio show); and "AT40 Rewind", a hit song from the past decade or so. In between songs, Seacrest and his guest hosts often make deadpan one-liners while writers and producers can be heard laughing frequently, including the security guard "Roger". Additionally, Seacrest initially opened most shows by playing the previous week's #1 song, as Kasem often did in the 1980s; this was discontinued after 2006, but in mid-2009 Seacrest began including a shorter recap segment in the show's introduction, in which he would play brief segments of the previous week's top three hits.

The show also began using a new chart that used no recurrent rule. On the first show with Ryan Seacrest, this led to several older songs reappearing after having dropped off many weeks earlier. Over the long term, it meant songs could spend long runs for about a year on the chart even after they went to recurrent status on other published charts. "Here Without You" by 3 Doors Down set a longevity record in 2004 for the CHR show by lasting 50 weeks before finally falling off. In 2006, "Scars" by Papa Roach would go on to tie the record. In 2011, Taio Cruz set AT40's all time longevity record with his song "Dynamite". This hit remained on the chart for 72 weeks, from July 2010 to November 2011. On the Hot AC version of AT40, "Love Song" by Sara Bareilles set the all-time record in 2009 at 103 consecutive weeks. American Top 40 also became more interactive, involving online song voting and e-mail. In December 2006, the series' website was revamped, and the online song voting was discontinued in favor of publishing the Hot AC chart. The website also includes a toll-free number where fans can make requests and "shoutouts", as they would to a local radio station, and by 2009 replayed clips of shoutouts became part of the show. Online song voting was later reinstated, with results of votes on American Top 40's website factored into the chart rankings. AT40 was also expanded to social media through Twitter and Facebook where listeners from around the world will request a song to be included in the AT40 Extra segment, as well as their own mobile application which is available for free download on iTunes Store.

In March 2010, Premiere Radio Networks announced that "American Top 5," a condensed daily top-5 countdown, would begin airing as part of the daily radio program On Air, also hosted by Seacrest.[18]

As of 2013, American Top 40 is produced and engineered by Claudine Cazian and Sal Cocio.

Reairing of older shows[edit]

AT40 Flashback[edit]

From January 2001 to December 2002, many radio stations aired reruns of 1980-1988 episodes under the title American Top 40 Flashback. The show was syndicated by Premiere Radio Networks. In its early weeks the shows were the original four-hour format of an American Top 40 episode, but after the first month and a half the show was reduced to three hours. Although American Top 40 Flashback ceased in December 2002, radio station WMMX in Dayton, Ohio continued to carry American Top 40 Flashback on Saturday mornings until the premiere of Casey Kasem's American Top 40: The 80s.

Casey Kasem's American Top 40—The 70s and 80s[edit]

On August 4, 2006, XM Satellite Radio began replays of the original 1970s and 1980s AT40 shows with Casey Kasem that were digitally remastered from the original vinyl LPs and open-reel master tapes by Shannon Lynn of Charis Music Group. The event began with a weekend long marathon of original shows, with AT40 then being added as a regular show on two of XM's Decades channels, "The 70s on 7" and "The 80s on 8". With the merger of Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio, these AT40 shows began airing on both services on November 15, 2008. On the 70s on 7, it replaced the 'Satellite Survey', a Top 30 countdown of 70s hits, produced by Sirius and hosted by Dave Hoeffel. On the 80s on 8, it replaced 'The Big 40' countdown produced by Sirius and hosted by Nina Blackwood. As of October 11, 2009, Sirius XM replaced the AT40 countdown on 80s on 8 and debuted a revised version of 'The Big 40' countdown now co-hosted by four of the five original MTV VJs: Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and Martha Quinn.

Sirius XM "70s on 7" currently runs AT40 each Saturday at 12PM with encore broadcasts the following Sunday at 9AM and at 12 midnight. Most show dates roughly correspond to the current week in real time. The mix of AT40 episodes being run on XM include the year-end countdowns, which are typically run in two parts: the first half (#100-#51) in one time slot, and then the second half (#50-#1) in the following time slot. The AT40 specials are also part of XM's rotation; for instance, "AT40 Goes to the Movies" aired prior to the 2007 Academy Awards, and on February 24, "The Top 40 Acts Of The 80s So Far" aired on XM 80s the first week of July 2007. Also, "The Top 40 Songs of the Disco Era (1974-1979)" aired on Sirius XM "70s on 7" the second weekend of July 2011.

From October through early November 2006, oldies radio station KQQL in Minneapolis/St. Paul, which is owned by Clear Channel Communications, ran a series of American Top 40 episodes from the 1970s. Aside from one week, when the station attempted to air a four-hour episode from 1979 in the three-hour timeslot (resulting in the show getting cut off at #11 and the top 10 not being heard), this test run was largely successful. Because of the success, Premiere Radio Networks decided to launch "Casey Kasem's American Top 40: The 1970s" into national syndication featuring the three-hour shows from 1970 to 1978, and the last three hours of shows originally aired from October 1978 through December 1979. (One original four-hour program, first aired in October 1978, was edited into a three-hour program for reairing in 2007, and the four-hour "Disco Hits" special from July 1979 with the first hour optional was aired in 2008, but until the fall of 2010, no other program from the last 15 months of the 1970s was included in the "AT40: The 70s" package. Starting in late 2010, Premiere began airing three-hour versions of four-hour AT40s from 1978-1979, beginning the broadcasts at the start of the countdown's second hour; during the spring of 2012, Premiere began making the first hour of these programs "optional," meaning that stations can choose to air all four hours of the four-hour programs, or just the last three.) Starting in 2012, whenever programs from 1970-1972 were scheduled to air, Premiere began offering affiliates the option of airing a later 1970s program instead (typically, a corresponding year from seven years later, or 1977-1979).

The 1980s version premiered on April 8, 2007, replacing the American Top 40 Flashback reruns. The shows are available in either their full original four-hour format, or an abbreviated three-hour version that omits the first hour of the show. To date, the latest program to air as part of the "AT40: The 80s" package has been August 6, 1988 – Kasem's last show with the original program, and no programs from 1988-1989 with Shadoe Stevens as host have been re-aired.

To date, the only re-aired classic AT40 program that featured a host other than Kasem was the March 25, 1972 show with Dick Clark as host, aired as a tribute after Clark's death.

Newly produced extra segments hosted by voiceover talent Larry Morgan are available for use at stations' discretion. Prior to Casey leaving Premiere Radio, these segments were hosted by his son Mike; when the series first began, these segments were hosted by one of Casey's former guest hosts, Ed McMann. These extra segments are also heard on the 80s show. KQQL was the first to sign on, airing programs beginning on December 30, 2006. Typically, the "optional extras" were songs that had yet to enter the top 40 of the Hot 100. However, some songs never reached the top 40 but had since become popular at classic hits/oldies/classic rock stations, while others were tributes to performers who had just died. For early 1970s programs, some of the "optional extras" were actually extras (i.e., "oldies") that were originally a part of the original program; in this case, Kasem's original commentary and introduction of the song were kept intact, in lieu of Morgan's voiceover.

In March 2008, XM Satellite Radio rebranded the XM broadcasts with the "Casey Kasem's American Top 40" name and logo used for terrestrial broadcasts, although XM still aired the commercial-free broadcasts, while Premiere Radio carries edited and recut broadcasts with commercials. Following the merger of Sirius and XM, the AT40 shows airing on those platforms have occasionally been edited. In some cases, extras and LDDs have been cut from the original broadcasts.

Sirius XM 70s On 7 aired the inaugural AT 40 (which originally aired July 4, 1970) on July 4, 2013 as part of a special July 4 broadcast.

As of 2013, American Top 40 The 70s & 80s are produced by Toby Petty.

Chart data used by American Top 40[edit]

Billboard magazine[edit]

AT40 used the Top 40 portion of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart from the show's inception in 1970 to November 23, 1991. The chart was widely regarded as the industry standard in tracking the most popular songs in the country, and was thus a natural choice to be used. While using these charts worked well for the first half of the 1970s, as music changed during the decade, and disco became popular on the charts, some rock stations began to drop the show because of complaints from program directors that AT40 was "playing too many songs not on their playlist."

This gradually became a wide schism as rock splintered into a half-dozen formats in the early 1980s. Historians have noted that no one station actually played all of the songs on the Billboard Hot 100 list, because they represented overlapping formats—hard rock, mainstream rock, heavy metal, dance, new wave, punk, rap, pop, easy listening/adult contemporary, country, and so on. Stations tended to specialize in only one or two of these formats, and completely ignore the others. As a result, AT40s weekly playlist could be very diverse in the styles and formats of the songs played.

One solution for the AT40 producers was to air frequent specials (at least three or four times a year) that concentrated on the classic music of the past, such as Rock in the Movies, Top Hits of the Seventies, and so on. But as Top 40 stations evolved into CHR, they began to avoid syndicated shows like AT40, preferring to stick with their own special niche formats.

By the early 1990s, many songs, mostly rap or heavy metal/grunge songs, would appear on the chart being fueled by single sales, and had received low airplay; several were very long, others were too controversial or risqué for mainstream airplay (for instance, the very sexually explicit "Me So Horny" by 2 Live Crew made it to #26 on the Hot 100 in 1989). These songs would generally only be aired in brief snippets during the show.

Because of this, American Top 40 began using the Top 40 portion from the Hot 100 Airplay chart (then known as the Top 40 Radio Monitor) in lieu of the Hot 100. These songs generally scored much higher radio airplay, and some were not even released as singles (such as "Steel Bars" by Michael Bolton). During this time, a few songs made big debuts, including 2 that almost debuted in the #1 spot: "I'll Be There" by Mariah Carey, which entered American Top 40 at #4, and "Erotica" by Madonna, which entered at #2.

In January 1993, American Top 40 switched charts again, this time to the Billboard Top 40 Mainstream chart. This chart had more Top 40 Mainstream hits but fewer urban/dance/rap songs.

AT40 did not always use the official year-end chart from Billboard during the 25 years that they used their charts. In 1972 and 1973; in 1977; from 1980 to 1984; and again from 1990 to 1994, AT40 compiled its own year-end chart. These charts were very close to Billboard's, but AT40 would go with a mid-December to early-December time period where Billboard's survey year varied from year to year. AT40 matched Billboard's number one song of the year every time except in 1977, 1984, 1990 and 1993.

Radio & Records magazine[edit]

With the show's revival in 1998, a new chart was implemented, the top 40 portion of Radio and Records CHR/Pop top 50 chart, which was already in use on Casey's Top 40. This chart used a recurrent rule removed songs below #25 and had exceeded 26 weeks in the top 50; these removals, if they occurred in the top 40, would be reflected on the appropriate week's program. In 1999, the rule was modified to further restrict long chart runs. Songs falling below #20 with at least 20 weeks in the top 50 would now be removed.

On October 21, 2000 American Top 40 began using an unpublished chart on a weekly basis for the first time in its history. The chart seemed to be a variant of the CHR/Pop chart provided by Mediabase, the data provider to Radio & Records. The most noticeable feature of this new chart was its ambiguous recurrent rule. Songs would be removed regularly from within the top 15, seemingly regardless of the number of weeks it had spent on the chart. This chart lasted until August 11, 2001, when AT40 returned to the Radio & Records Pop chart. The return coincided with another modification in the recurrent rule; songs would be removed below #25 after 3 consecutive weeks without a bullet (an increase in radio plays). This change would be short-lived, and in November 2001, Radio & Records returned to the 20 weeks/below #20 rule, which remained in place for the remainder of Kasem's tenure.

Spin-off programming[edit]

Adult Contemporary countdowns (AT20 and AT10)[edit]

Beginning in the early 1990s, Casey Kasem also hosted two other shows counting down the top adult contemporary hits of the week. He continued to host both shows even after Ryan Seacrest took over the reins of American Top 40.

Kasem's countdown for Mainstream and Soft Adult Contemporary radio stations debuted in 1992 under the name Casey's Countdown. Originally Casey's Countdown consisted of 25 songs, but in 1994 it was shortened to 20. With the revival of the AT40 brand name, the AC chart became American Top 20. In March 2004, the Mainstream AC edition was shortened again, this time from twenty to ten songs, and became known as American Top 10.

Another show for Hot Adult Contemporary radio stations debuted in November 1994, since the Hot AC or "Adult Top 40" format was rapidly growing in popularity at the time. The original name of the show was Casey's Hot 20. Like its sister Mainstream AC show, it, too, was renamed American Top 20 once AT40 was relaunched (resulting in two different shows being entitled "American Top 20").

The AC shows were three hours in length and included many AT40 staple features, including chart "extras" and Long Distance Dedications (known as "Requests and Dedications" during the Westwood One years), as well as spotlight features on number one hits of each chart week from years past. AT10 continued to feature Long Distance Dedications, and some additional features that were staples on the original AT40 were re-added to both shows during Casey's final years, including the "Book of Records" and "Whatever Happened To...?" AT10 also featured additional chart extras under the banner of "AT10 Spotlight," built around a particular theme (the theme for the first week of the revamped AT10 in 2004 was "Band Members Gone Solo").

As with the Top 40 show, both Casey's Countdown/AT20/10 AC and Casey's Hot 20/AT20 Hot AC initially used the AC charts published by Radio & Records from their inception until 2003, except for a brief period in 2000-2001 when both used unpublished Mediabase 24/7 charts. From 2003 to August 2006 (when R&R stopped using Mediabase to compile its charts), both shows used the Mediabase charts. From August 2006 until the end of its run, the AC shows once again were based on unpublished charts.

In 2005, WLTW in New York City commissioned a shortened one-hour version of American Top 10 featuring only the current hits of the week and eliminating the "extras."

In December, AT10 focused on Christmas music because many of its affiliates broadcast a holiday/Christmas music format around the holiday season.

AT20 and AT10 aired their final episodes on the weekend of July 4/5, 2009. The countdowns wrapped up with Kasem giving a brief history of his countdown programs and how they grew over the years. Following this, he revealed the final #1 songs on both shows. Shinedown's "Second Chance" was the final #1 song on American Top 20 and Taylor Swift's "Love Story" earned that spot on American Top 10. After the respective song finished and Kasem repeated the title and how long it had been atop the AT20/AT10 charts, both shows featured the same voicetrack of Casey's final words to his audience after 39 years of counting down the hits.

I'd like to share with you something I've learned over the years: Success doesn't happen in a vacuum. You're only as good as the people you work with, and the people you work for. I've been lucky; I've worked for and with the very best!
 
— Casey Kasem at the end of the final AT20/AT10 broadcast

[17]

Kasem then closed the show with the end credits and his tagline one final time, and with that his career came to an end. Premiere Radio Networks ended the shows, choosing not to continue them with a new host. Eligible stations were offered the current American Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest as an alternate program, and eligible stations wishing to keep Kasem were offered the 70s and 80s programs. The following year, Kasem's daughter joined the Premiere Radio family, as Premiere debuted The Side Show Countdown, hosted by Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx and Kerri Kasem.

Television spinoff[edit]

From 1980 to 1992, a video version of the show entitled America's Top 10 was aired in syndication to television stations across the United States. Kasem hosted this version from 1980 to 1989. When Kasem left American Top 40 in 1988, he remained as host of America's Top 10 until the end of 1989, when he would be replaced by Siedah Garrett and later Tommy Puett. Kasem returned by 1991, and the show ran until 1992.

Other formats[edit]

Based on the success of American Top 40, Kasem and Don Bustany created a spinoff top 40 countdown for Watermark for Country Radio called American Country Countdown, patterned after Kasem's program. "ACC" premiered in 1973, and was hosted by Don Bowman until 1978, then by Bob Kingsley until 2005 when Kix Brooks of the late country music duo Brooks & Dunn took over, and has been doing so since.

After Kasem left ABC, the network launched American Gold, a spinoff oldies countdown (featuring far fewer songs, and often focusing on a particular artist) hosted by Dick Bartley. American Gold's last show aired at the end of March 2009, replaced with another show hosted by Bartley for United Stations Radio Networks, Classic Countdown.

The American Top 40 format was adapted in an Australian show titled Take 40 Australia, similarly counting down the top 40 songs in the country.

Censorship, offensive songs and affiliate standards[edit]

American Top 40 airs radio edits for American radio stations, no matter what the country it airs in.[citation needed]

Casey Kasem and Watermark's policy regarding putting American Top 40 together was to always play the 40 most popular songs in the United States and never to ban a record from the countdown. However, whenever songs with potentially offensive lyrical content made the top 40, Watermark would send out memos to affiliated stations alerting them of the presence of that song in the countdown and sometimes provide stations with suggestions on how to edit the song out of their AT40 broadcasts. The first song to receive this advisory was in April and May 1971, with a spoken word piece, "The Battle Hymn of Lt. Calley", by Terry Nelson and C-Company.[19][20] Some more well-known songs which received this treatment included "Kodachrome" by Paul Simon, "Roxanne" by The Police, "Ain't Love a Bitch" by Rod Stewart, and "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" by Meat Loaf.

Perhaps the most infamous of these songs was Chuck Berry's number-one hit "My Ding-a-Ling", which put some stations in the odd position of having to air AT40 without playing the number one song. The censorship of this song continues even today as some stations, such as WOGL in Philadelphia, replaced this song with an optional extra when it aired a rerun of the November 18, 1972 broadcast (where it ranked at #14)[21] on December 6, 2008.

In the summer of 1977, radio station KRNQ in Des Moines, Iowa, edited out "The Killing of Georgie" by Rod Stewart, because of the subject matter of a homosexual being murdered;[citation needed] that song peaked at #30 on the countdown.

Another example of this policy dates from 1978, when Billy Joel's "Only the Good Die Young" was on the charts. Because of the nature of the song (Joel singing about urging pre-marital sex by a teen Catholic girl, Virginia), AT40 had placed warnings in shipments to warn affiliates in highly Catholic populated areas along with a special break in the countdown for stations to substitute another song in its place. The affiliates usually used the suggestion, though some did not and no major complaints were ever heard. Many of these memos have been reprinted in Pete Battistini's book, "American Top 40 with Casey Kasem (The 1970s)."

Although Kasem and his crew never banned a song from airplay on the countdown, there was at least one instance in which Kasem refused to announce the title of a song on his show. When George Michael's "I Want Your Sex" hit the Billboard charts in the summer of 1987, Kasem refused to announce the name of the song; only its artist (e.g., "George Michael's latest hit is up five notches this week...") Also, as had been done with previous controversial hits, because of the song's suggestiveness, the show's structure was altered slightly, so stations could opt out of the song. This pattern was also evident during the 1987 Year End countdown. The song title was mentioned five times during its chart run (6/20/1987; 6/27/1987; 7/4/1987; 9/12/1987 and 9/19/1987), during the week-ending episode of September 26, 1987, when it dropped out of the Top 40, and during the Top 100 of 1987 show; Shadoe Stevens, his successor, however did mention the title on the show from July 31, 1993 as part of the Flashback feature, as it was in the top 5 from that week in 1987. In the spring of 1991, when "People Are Still Having Sex" by LaTour and "I Wanna Sex You Up" by Color Me Badd debuted the same week, their titles were announced in full.

Another song that had its title unannounced after its first week was "Me So Horny" by 2 Live Crew, in the fall of 1989 [the Shadoe Stevens era]. It was mentioned twice at the beginning of the song, and back announced once, its debut week. For the rest of its chart run, the title was never again mentioned. When the 2 Live Crew returned to the top 40 in the Summer of 1990, with "Banned in the U.S.A.", Shadoe did mention that it was the follow-up to "Me So Horny". The song did come with edit out instructions for stations as well. Other songs around that time with edit out warnings were "The Humpty Dance" by The Digital Underground, and "Tic Tac Toe" by Kyper.

As has been mentioned previously, many rock radio stations in the late 1970s adopted anti-disco stances, and this, too, was reflected in the way some affiliates edited AT40. For example, one 1979 show featured a story about disco saving New York; again, the show was structured so that anti-disco stations could edit the story out of the show. (Notably, Kasem ended the monologue with the prediction that "disco is here to stay," which was proven false in short order, as disco rapidly fell out of fashion by 1980.)

More famously, on the weekend of July 7–8, 1979, Cleveland, Ohio AT40 affiliate WGCL (now WNCX), instead of carrying the "American Top 40 Top 40 Disco Songs" special because of being an anti-disco radio station, did its own version of American Top 40 using the July 7, 1979 Billboard chart as the source with Townsend Coleman handling the hosting duties for Casey Kasem. The special Cleveland-only American Top 40 episode did not feature the AT40 Archives, extras, or Long Distance Dedications — just the top 40 singles of that week, which was preceded by a recap of the previous week's top three. Most of the songs played were longer album versions or 12-inch extended versions. Through clever editing, Coleman also took the "Casey's Coast to Coast" jingle (pronounced "K-C's Coast to Coast") and spliced in a "T," to provide an appropriate "TC's Coast to Coast" jingle. Kasem did not learn about the deception until 1996, laughing the whole thing off by saying, "Maybe I don't want to hear it!"

Coleman's sleight-of-hand was actually the second time a version of the AT40 had aired that was not quite on the up and up. According to Rob Durkee's book "American Top 40: The Countdown of the Century", Dave Morgan of WDHF (now WNUA) in Chicago ghosted an edition of the program sometime in the summer of 1975. When the station's copy of the show did not arrive in time, he used Billboard's list and merely played the records, apparently heavily implying that the show was American Top 40 without actually identifying it as such. "My program director made me do it!" Morgan said years later.

From 1992 to 1994, two radio stations still carrying American Top 40 had to carry customized versions of the show. WPLJ in New York City aired the show with the urban/dance/rap songs mentioned but not played and were replaced here and there by Hot Adult Contemporary leaning extras. KUBE in Seattle, Washington aired AT40 with a few songs that did not fit the station's Top 40 Rhythm format omitted each week. It has also been reported that WSTR in Atlanta, Georgia, being an anti-rap station and a very Adult Contemporary-leaning CHR, edited "Another Night" by Real McCoy (a Eurodisco record with rap breaks) out of its broadcasts of Casey's Top 40 in 1994, even while the song was at #1 on the show (which used the Radio & Records CHR/Pop chart). "Fuck You" by Cee Lo Green was changed to "Forget You" for radio airplay in 2010 and hit #1 the following year after re-entering the American Top 40. "Fuckin' Perfect" by Pink was changed to "Perfect" for radio airplay and also hit #1 on the American Top 40. "Tonight (I'm Fuckin' You)" by Enrique Iglesias was changed to "Tonight (I'm Lovin' You)" for radio airplay and hit #1 on the American Top 40 as well. "Niggas in Paris" by Jay-Z & Kanye West was changed to "In Paris" for radio airplay. "Ass Back Home" by Gym Class Heroes, which was changed to "Get Yourself Back Home" for radio airplay. The most recent radio edit was by Neon Hitch with her song "Fuck U Betta"; it was changed to "Love U Betta" for radio airplay (this song was first played in Subway's Fresh Buzz song of the week).

Most recently, Justin Timberlake's single "Mirrors" had to be edited for time, as the song is over 8 minutes long.

Special Countdowns[edit]

Occasionally American Top 40 airs special countdowns in place of the regular American Top 40 countdown show. These included1:

Additionally, the top songs of the year were counted down at the end of every year. In 1970 & 1972, AT40 counted down the year's top 80 hits. In 1971 & 1973, they only counted down the top 40 because of their top 40 Christmas Countdowns those two years. Beginning in 1974, the top 100 songs of the year were counted down and was done so every year with few exceptions. In 1979, they did the top 50 songs of that year and followed it with the top 50 songs of the 1970s. This was done again in 1999, except only the top 40 of the year and decade were aired. In 2009, the year-end countdown took place as usual (two weeks long, with the top 100 songs of the year being counted down), but on the first week of 2010, the top 40 songs of the decade were counted down. The year-end shows were counted down over a two-week period (although stations could edit the shows into one long show) until 1983, when the year-end show ran just one week for eight hours. In 1992, the year end countdown was temporary back to its two-week format, in 1994 (the last year of the old AT40) the year end countdown was only 50, and with the AT40 return in 1998 the year end countdowns were the 2 week format (except for 1999 when it was 50).

During the run of "American Top 20" and "American Top 10," an updated Christmas countdown, the "Top 60 Christmas Songs," would air annually the two weeks immediately preceding Christmas.

Substitute hosts[edit]

Over 50 celebrities—among them radio personalities, game show hosts, and even charting artists—have substituted for these three throughout the show's run. Radio announcer Charlie Van Dyke filled in for Casey a record 31 times in the 1980s.[22]

Substitutes for Ryan Seacrest have included:

Some well-known guest hosts for Casey Kasem have included:

Los Angeles deejay "Emperor" Bob Hudson attempted to substitute for Casey sometime between 1976 and 1978 (no specific date was given); however, Hudson had trouble recording his material for AT40, giving up after realizing that he could not host AT40 the same way he would host his morning drive show. As a result, Casey cancelled his vacation and returned to Los Angeles to record that week's AT40, but made sure that Hudson, a legendary disk jockey and comedian, got paid for his work anyway.[24]

Guest hosts for Shadoe Stevens included:

1 The week Jay Thomas hosted, October 31, 1992,[25] Chris Cox of KEZY in Anaheim, California (now KFSH-FM) taped a special version for that station at Watermark's studios, because of contractual stipulations that prohibit talent from Los Angeles-based stations from being heard on KEZY.[26]

Notable songs played on American Top 40[edit]

References[edit]


  1. ^ Durkee, p. 259.
  2. ^ a b c d "Casey Kasem's American Top 40, 7/4/70: Debut Show". oldradioshows.com. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved October 29, 2007. 
  3. ^ Durkee, p. 65. The story here was that George Barris (designer of cars for TV and movies, including the Batmobile) added gold lacquer into the hubcaps' brass coating of Lindsay's Rolls-Royce Phantom V.
  4. ^ Durkee, p. 53-54.
  5. ^ Durkee, p. 53.
  6. ^ Partial Listing Of Items From Pete Battistini's At40 Collection
  7. ^ Durkee, p. 137.
  8. ^ Durkee, p. 90.
  9. ^ Durkee, p. 69, 86.
  10. ^ Durkee, p. 189.
  11. ^ According to Durkee, p. 252: "The word 'sneek'...was misspelled in the script for the first show that aired the feature, and [it] was never never subsequently corrected."
  12. ^ Durkee, p. 240-241.
  13. ^ Durkee, p. 216.
  14. ^ Durkee, p. 218.
  15. ^ Durkee, p. 165.
  16. ^ Durkee, p. 253.
  17. ^ a b FMQB In Brief - June 5, 2009. Retrieved on 2009-06-05.
  18. ^ "Premiere Radio Networks - Home". Premiereradio.com. 2010-03-16. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  19. ^ Durkee, p. 66.
  20. ^ oldradioshows.com: Casey Kasem's American Top 40, 4/24/71. Retrieved on 2008-11-26. This song would chart in the high-30s for four weeks, dropping out after 5/15/1971.
  21. ^ oldradioshows.com: "American Top 40, 11/18/1972". Retrieved on 2008-12-08.
  22. ^ Durkee, p. 144.
  23. ^ Durkee, p. 123-124.
  24. ^ Durkee, p. 126-127.
  25. ^ Old Radio Shows: "SHADOE STEVENS AMERICAN TOP 40– 10/31/92"
  26. ^ Durkee, p. 247.
  27. ^ oldradioshows.com: Shadoe Stevens' American Top 40, 7/9/94. Retrieved on 2009-07-05.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]