HUMPHRIES: The Casey Kasem I knew and what I learned from him

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In 1991 I met Casey Kasem when I was working on a documentary about the radio industry called ”Radio In America: The Jockumentary.”

It was great fun. A high school friend of mine had recently graduated from USC film school, and we traveled the country interviewing some of the top radio personalities in the U.S. at the time. Rush Limbaugh, Mancow Muller, Kidd Kraddick, Scott Shannon and scores of other radio guys had agreed to be a part of the film I was making.

Someone had Casey Kasem’s phone number and I gave him a call, not really expecting a response. Within 15 minutes I got a call, and on the line was that incredibly familiar voice: “Hello, Rusty. This is Casey.”

We had an extremely pleasant conversation. He could not have been any nicer, and agreed to be a part of my video if I came out to Hollywood. You have to understand that even before I worked as a radio personality, for most of my life I was a fan and student of the art form of broadcasting. I couldn’t have been more excited by the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with one of the all-time greats.

I was a radio guy, not a film guy, so a video interview was a new experience for me. This also was the first major project my friend had done. We were young and hungry for this great adventure.

We arrived at Casey’s studio in Hollywood at the scheduled time … and that’s when things got a bit odd.

My photographer got his camera set up and shot a bit of “white balance.” That’s where you show the camera what white is, to help it record colors better. Immediately, a producer comes out of nowhere screaming at the top of his lungs to delete what we had recorded.

“Uhhh, OK … it was just the white on the bare wall,” we explained.

“I don’t care and if you do anything like that again, I’ll cancel the interview!” he shouted.

I was young and now intimidated, but still eager to meet the legendary CASEY KASEM. He came out of the studio and the first thing he said was, “Are you going to shoot my pants?”

“Your pants? I don’t think so,” I said.

“Well, I think I’ll go change my pants,” he declared, and walked down the hallway to go change.

About 10 minutes later he retuned and asked, “Where’s the makeup artist and lighting crew?”

To be honest, I hadn’t even thought about those things. I just wanted to ask a few questions, get him on film, and move on to the next subject for my documentary.

When I told him we didn’t have a makeup team or lighting crew, he grew quite annoyed but agreed to continue. After about five minutes of a very uncomfortable interview, I tried to change to mood in the room.

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