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Dedicated in memory of Jim Collins



 

American Top 40's Four Founding Fathers


Casey Kasem


Don Bustany

Tom Rounds

Ron Jacobs

Casey Kasem had worked on the air at WJBK / Detroit, WBNY / Buffalo, WJW / Cleveland and KEWB / San Francisco before moving to KRLA in Los Angles in 1963. In 1966, he began hosting a daily TV dance show, 'Shebang!' produced by Dick Clark. By 1969, Casey's commercial voice-over and cartoon work as 'Shaggy' on 'Scooby Doo' was becoming time restrictive to the extent that he gave up his full time afternoon shift at KRLA but continued doing one weekend shift on Sunday afternoons with (what else?), a local countdown show which became the prototype for 'AT 40'.

He and his partner, Don Bustany were interested in taking the show nationally but were in need of a syndication deal. In a coincidence of cosmic proportions, at the same time, a new syndicator in Hollywood, 'Watermark', headed by former KFRC Program Director, Tom Rounds and former KHJ legendary PD, Ron Jacobs were searching for shows that might be offered to stations.

A meeting of the minds at Art's Deli in Studio City in the Fall of 1969 set the stage for the birth of the program the following July 4th weekend. Getting stations to sign up for the show however proved problematic. Tom Rounds traveled to Boston in early 1970 to secure an agreement with Max Richmond, owner of both WMEX in Beantown as well as WPGC. Getting clearance on two powerhouses such as these would go a long way in convincing stations in smaller markets to do the same. The result of that meeting was that Richmond agreed to carry the show on his stations.

Thus, WPGC and WMEX became the first two stations to agree to run the program. By the time of the show's debut, both stations were among the original 7 affiliates to air it. On WPGC, this occurred on Sunday, July 5, 1970 from 9a-12 noon.

 

American Top 40 'Uncle Sam' logo, by artist, Paul Gruwell, circa 1970

The original American Top 40 'Uncle Sam' logo, by artist, Paul Gruwell, circa 1970.

 

As song lengths continued to increase during the '70's, it became increasingly difficult to squeeze 40 songs into the three hour format of the show. The inevitable expansion of the program to 4 hours began on 10/0778. To fill the extra time, Long Distance Dedications, which had debuted shortly before the lengthening of the show, as well as the AT 40 Archives, a chronological review of all the #1 hits of the '70's (and later, the '60's) were introduced.

In 1982, Watermark, the production company responsible for 'AT40' was acquired by ABC Radio who proceeded to take the show away from long time affiliates in markets where ABC owned stations. In Washington, the show as taken from WPGC (which was running it twice each weekend by then) after 13 consecutive years (the only remaining station of the original 7 and the longest running affiliate at the time) and given to Q107 for this reason in 1983.

In 1988, Casey left the show over a contract dispute with ABC and launched his own show, 'Casey's Countdown' on the Westwood One Radio Network. Rights to the name of American Top 40 reverted to Casey and Don in 1997 with 'AT 40' returning the next year on the AM/FM Networks. The original shows from the '70's & '80's continue to run in syndication today through the Premiere Radio Networks.

Those same shows, now restored digitally are also available from CharisMusicGroup.com where many of the chart lists can also be found. Fans should check out also Walt Bailey's tribute site to 'AT 40' at OldRadioShows.com that has complete chart lists for all the programs in its various incarnations over the years.

Three excellent books on the history of the show are Rob Durkee's, 'American Top 40, The Countdown Of The Century' and 'American Top 40 With Casey Kasem (The 1970's)' and 'American Top 40 With Casey Kasem (The 1980's)' by Pete Battistini.

Read more on the history of the show and its evolution. See which stations are airing re-broadcasts of the original shows nationally.

 

 

Casey Kasem passed away on June 15, 2014 at age 82 after an extended battle between his second wife and his children from his first marriage over visitation rights. His eldest child, Kerri continues his tradition in broadcasting as well as his activism in her fight against Seniors abuse. Just days earlier, Tom Rounds passed away on 06/01/14 at age 77. After Watermark was absorbed by ABC, he became responsible for syndication of the show outside the U.S. through his own company, 'Radio Express'. Ron Jacobs joined his colleagues on Cloud 9 on 06/03/16 after having also created, 'The History of Rock & Roll' for Drake-Chenault as well as initated the 'Cruisin' series of radio broadcast re-creations on vinyl (of which Harv Moore was the featured personality on the 1969 disc).

Casey's childhood friend from Detroit, Don Bustany passed away on 04/23/18 in Santa Barbara. He was the show's original writer and producer. With the success of 'AT 40', within a few years he and Casey also co-created its spin-off, 'American Country Countdown'. But his involvement in the industry would go far beyond 'AT 40' and 'ACC'. In the early 1970's, he began working for 'MTM', first as a camera coordinator and later as a technical coordinator on the 'Mary Tyler Moore Show' and the 'Bob Newhart Show', a program he also directed an episode of. Other shows he was involved with included, 'Phyllis', 'Cheers' and the 'Tony Randall Show'.

In the '80's when Casey took the countdown show format to television with, 'America's Top Ten', Don was by his side easing the transition to the video age for his lifelong friend. Don Bustany was 89.

Read more about his life. Read about his activism. Read more in the Hollywood Reporter. And in RAMP.

Hear the one and only time Don introduced 'AT 40' when the first guest host, Dave Hull filled in for Casey on 11/06/71.

See Don's tribute to Casey in 2013.

With Don's passing, all four of 'AT 40's founding fathers have now gone on to that great transmitter in the sky.... :(

 

 

AT 40 Guest Host, Dave Roberts writes:

Nice site! I'm Dave Roberts, the fill-in for Casey reading the WPGC mention below on 06/21/80. (I guest-hosted a total of 4 times until I became host of "The Hot Ones" on the RKO Radio Network in the 80's.) I was at (AT 40 affiliate), KYA in San Francisco at the time.

Interestingly, and not related to being tapped to guest host, I was also one of the first 7 Sunday morning jocks to rack up those 10-inch reels (AT 40 was not distributed on vinyl LP until 1971) and debut that first AT 40 episode back on the Fourth of July weekend, 1970 on KPOI in Honolulu.

BTW, Tom Moffett, the General Manager of KPOI was also one of the Watermark partners, which is why we were one of the first seven stations (besides WPGC) to carry the show.

When I was working at KYA, (AT 40 Producer), Don Bustany sent us a request for auditions. At the time, I was the afternoon drive DJ, Research Director, and "station voice" for the FM side. The Production Director asked me as I was wrapping up our daily session why I hadn't set up a time for my audition. What audition? I hadn't gotten the memo (literally). So, he said, "Here's the script, why don't you give it a try because I have to send these out today".

So, I cranked it out quickly and ran off to do my air shift. A few week's later, it was announced to the staff that I had been chosen to sit in. The cut with the WPGC mention was from that first show I guest hosted. I did the show three more times (although Don called me at least 2-3 other times, but since I was host of the RKO syndicated show, he said ABC wouldn't go for that.)

What's interesting, is that neither Don Bustany or anybody else including AT 40 co-creator, Tom Rounds (who I had met at KPOI when he came in to do one of those anniversary shows) knew I had worked for their partner Tom Moffett in Honolulu. (I'd do a Long Distance Dedication to "Tom in Honolulu" if I could...he was a terrific boss and a radio guy through and through).

 

 

'Every week, American Top 40 is heard coast to coast
and around the world on great radio stations like.....'

According to Pete's aforementioned books, here is the complete listing of American Top 40 shows during the '70's & '80's in which WPGC was identified as one of the stations carrying the show.

Click on the dates below to see the cue sheets from the show or any of the songs to hear the WPGC mention for that week. Don't miss the 20 minute medley of all the mentions below the individual cuts.

An extra special Good Guy salute to Pete Battistini who compiled the majority of the below. All clips are © 'Watermark', Inc.

Also added, are Question Letters and Long Distance Dedications sent in by WPGC listeners over the years.

 

Individual WPGC Station Mentions
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#7 - In The Summertime - Mungo Jerry
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#14 - 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 Years Of Love - Presidents
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#16 - One Toke Over The Line - Brewer & Shipley
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#9 - Draggin' The Line - Tommy James
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#32 - Wedding Song (There Is Love) - Paul Stookey
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#32 - Thin Line Between Love & Hate - Persuaders
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#12 - Drowning In The Sea Of Love - Joe Simon
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#20 - You Are Everything - Stylistics
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#35 - Could've Been A Lady - April Wine
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#33 - Old Man - Neil Young
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#29 - Isn't Life Strange - Moody Blues
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#2 - Too Late To Turn Back Now - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
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#31 - Lean On Me - Bill Withers
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#34 - Sunny Days - Lighthouse
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#23 - Could It Be I'm Falling In Love - Spinners
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#39 - Hocus Pocus - Focus
WPGC Play Audio Button 06/03/73 #10 - Playground In My Mind - Clint Holmes
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#12 - I Believe In You (You Believe In Me) - Johnnie Taylor
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#15 - Space Race - Billy Preston
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#38 - I Like To Live The Love - B.B. King
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#35 - Can This Be - Natural Four
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#20 - I'm In Love - Aretha Franklin
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#7 - Be Thankful For What You Got - William DeVaughn
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#15 - Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
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#22 - Walking In Rhythm - Blackbyrds
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#34 - Just A Little Bit Of You - Michael Jackson
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07/20/75 #2 - The Hustle - Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony
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#24 - My Little Town - Simon & Garfunkel
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#6 - Get Closer - Seals & Croft
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#32 - Love Ballad - L.T.D.
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#24 - Year Of The Cat - Al Stewart
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#8 - Year Of The Cat - Al Stewart
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#18 - Do Ya Wanna Get Funky With Me - Peter Brown
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#36 - Swingtown - Steve Miller Band
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#11 - Kiss You All Over - Exile
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#31 - Heart Of The Night - Poco
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#17 - Let's Go - Cars
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#16 - Sexy Eyes - Dr. Hook
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#18 - Stomp!* - Brothers Johnson
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#7 - Shining Star - Manhattans
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#26 - I Believe In You - Don Williams
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#9 - Kiss On My List - Hall & Oates
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#34 - Fool In Love With You - Jim Photoglo
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#7 - Slow Hand - Pointer Sisters
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#5 - That Girl - Stevie Wonder
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#15 - The One That You Love - Glenn Frey
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#25 - Heart Of The Night - Juice Newton
*Guest Host - Dave Roberts

 

WPGC Station Mentions Montage
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1970 - 1983
Medley of WPGC mentions on AT 40
20:03

 

WPGC Listener Question Letters
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06/13/71 Rockville, MD What song was on the charts the longest?
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07/04/71 Washington, DC Are the other Osmonds on Donny's songs?
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04/08/72 Silver Spring, MD What's the most controversial song ever?
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01/14/73 Washington, DC Same artist, same title, but different song?
WPGC Play Audio Button 02/17/73 Washington, DC Did any White artists hit #1 on Soul chart?
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08/05/73 Suitland, MD Did any artist have #1 song of the year, twice?
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06/22/74 Washington, DC Did any White artists hit #1 on Soul chart?*
WPGC Play Audio Button 11/29/75 Bowie, MD Artists with the most Top Ten hits?
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05/16/76 Lexington Park, MD Did Any #1 Song Of The Year Not Hit #1?
WPGC Play Audio Button 01/29/77 Accokeek, MD Disappearing Acts on the LP Charts after hitting #1?
WPGC Play Audio Button 11/25/78 Silver Spring, MD Which family had the most recording acts - 1?
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03/04/79 Silver Spring, MD Which family had the most recording acts - 2?**
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09/21/80 Arlington, VA Which married couple hit #1 the most?
WPGC Play Audio Button 02/07/81 Potomac, MD Did any TV Stars have #1 records?
WPGC Play Audio Button 01/23/83 Laurel, MD Did any debut album become the #1 LP of the year?
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02/27/83 Laurel, MD Which recording act had the shortest name?
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06/26/83 Columbia, MD Did Any Artist Hit #1 Album with Their First LP?***
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08/07/83 Silver Spring, MD How Many Female Duos on the Charts?****
*Same question sent in by the same listener, used 16 months later.
**Same question sent in by the same listener, used 14 weeks later!
***Same question sent in by a different listener, used 6 years later.
***Sent in by a WPGC listener but aired several months later on Q107.

 

WPGC Listener Questions Montage
WPGC Play Audio Button 1971 - 1983
Medley of WPGC Listener Question Letters Montage
26:54

 

WPGC Long Distance Dedications
WPGC Play Audio Button 12/10/78 Damascus, MD Just Remember I Love You - Firefall
WPGC Play Audio Button 10/28/79 Leesburg, VA When Will I See You Again - Three Degrees
WPGC Play Audio Button 04/27/80 Manassas, VA Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin
WPGC Play Audio Button 02/22/81 Riva, MD Woman In Love - Barbra Streisand
WPGC Play Audio Button 06/21/81 Rockville, MD If - Bread
WPGC Play Audio Button 12/20/81 Washington, DC All You Need Is Love - Beatles

 

WPGC Long Distance Dedications Montage
WPGC Play Audio Button 1978 - 1981
Medley of WPGC Long Distance Dedications
14:35

 

Casey Custom WPGC Production Elements
WPGC Play Audio Button 01/01/71 Promo for WPGC :06
WPGC Play Audio Button 01/01/71 Promo for Good Guys Radio :06
WPGC Play Audio Button 04/71 Promo for Big Wilson :06
WPGC Play Audio Button Mid '70's WPGC Custom tracks :17

 

 

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