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“Casey, I’m not here to make you look bad … Dude, you’re CASEY KASEM! You did the voice of SHAGGY on ‘Scooby-Doo!’ I’m a fan,” I gushed.

We had a good laugh, and he loosened up. After about 20 minutes of great material, I was left with one tough question I had to ask him. I knew it was dicey going in, but if I didn’t ask him about it, I would always regret it.

Knowing he was cautious, I asked my cameraman to turn off the camera, and turn it around to face the wall. I wanted Casey to know that what we were about to talk about was NOT on the record. He seemed nervous.

“Casey,” I said, “I want to ask you about the tape.” That’s all I had to say, and he knew exactly what I meant.

A few years earlier, a bootleg copy of a tape had surfaced in the radio community of Casey Kasem doing a long distance dedication about a dog … and in the tape he LOST it! I mean, profanity flowed out of his mouth with the skill and grace of a prima ballerina. This guy let everyone around him have it with both barrels blazing. It was caught on tape and leaked out for every DJ in America to play bits and pieces on the radio.

I knew that had to be embarrassing, and I wanted to see what his reaction would be. He said, “I’ve never talked about the tape.”

When I explained that the guys who would be watching this video are the same guys who still play it on the radio, he said, “I told Oprah I wouldn’t talk about the tape on her show, but for you, Rusty … I’ll do it.”

He then told the story of how in the ’80s, as music became more rock-oriented, he would ask his producers to avoid having him read sad dedications that would end up sandwiched between hard-driving rock songs — a very reasonable request. But as often as he would remind them, they kept doing it, and one day he just lost his marbles.

It was brilliant, the way he told it: the emotional honesty, the graceful storytelling. It was why Casey Kasem is one of the greatest broadcasters of all time.

We finished the interview, and I gave him the standard release form, which everyone has to sign when participating in such a video. He said he would give it to his attorney, and thus ended a great day with a great man.

The next day Casey called me and said, “Hello, Rusty. This is Casey. I just got off the phone with my attorney, who told me if I sign your release I’m out of my F’n mind! So, you make the video, send it to me and if I like it, I’ll sign it.”

It was a bit of a bummer that I had to go though some extra steps, but it was Casey Kasem, and he had just given me video GOLD, so I wasn’t worried at all about him liking what we did.

Fast forward nine months …

The video was done, and it looked great. I had interviewed most of the biggest names in radio at the time. I had just sent the artwork to the printer, and had a copy of the tape prepared for Casey. He called me the day after I sent it to him. I was proud, ready to take my bow, ready for Casey Kasem to tell me I should be his heir apparent!

“Hello, Rusty. This is Casey. Rusty, I saw the video … It looks great … but you can’t use me.”

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