To veteran DJs in Singapore, Kasem was the voice of America

To veteran DJs in Singapore, Kasem was the voice of America
American-based DJ Casey Kasem (right) visiting his son Mike, a DJ in Singapore.

SINGAPORE - Local radio veterans say that Casey Kasem in his prime was an on-air giant in Singapore.

His syndicated American Top 40 show used to be aired every Saturday afternoon on Rediffusion, Singapore's first cable-transmitted commercial radio station.

Former Rediffusion DJ Larry Lai, 74, says of the man: "Casey was a big part of music industry, a big part of the airwaves. He was the voice of America." Lai, who also used to host television singing show Talentime, says that Kasem was not just a voice on the show, he was also a producer who led a team dedicated to putting out a solid show.

"He and his team put out this terrific package of a show that would arrive at Rediffusion studios in the form of vinyl LPs and we'd play them."

Another former Rediffusion DJ, Paul Cheong, says that listeners loved Kasem because his voice sounded "genuine". He adds: "Kasem had this vulnerability in his voice, he sounded like a down-to-earth guy that the listener could associate with."

"His lines were all very well-researched and he had all these stories that kept the show interesting.

It wasn't just a bland voice on the radio reading out the song titles," says Cheong, who was with Rediffusion from the 1970s to the early 1990s, and is now an events MC.

Musician, singer and Kiss92 DJ John Klass, who started on radio on Rediffusion, remembers playing Kasem's shows on the air in the early 1990s and being influenced by his style.

"I spent a lot of Saturday afternoons with his voice," the 44-year-old remembers. "The thing about Kasem's show was that it might sound spontaneous but it was all well-scripted. That was the thing that I learnt - while it sounded like the DJs were talking off the top of their heads, they are actually reading from well-researched scripts.

Delivering the lines and making it sound conversational is a skill.

"I've conducted DJ classes and I still use Kasem's scripts as a teaching tool for aspiring DJs who want to learn the craft."

One fan who misses hearing Kasem's voice is brand and marketing manager Gilbert Ong, 39, who listened to the late DJ's shows in the early 1980s.

"When I was a kid, his shows were a must-listen and I always caught them with my late father.

"There'll be only one Casey Kasem. His gentle voice and cheerful mannerisms on radio are irreplaceable."

Share your memories of Casey Kasem on Redifussion.

Write to stlife@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 17, 2014.
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