(This is Not an official site, the
official site is at40.com)
American Top 40
with Casey Kasem: July 4, 1970 through August 6, 1988
"American Top 40" debuted the weekend of July 4, 1970.
The concept of playing the 40 most popular songs from a national chart
was a new one, and no one was sure of the success of the show at the
time. Listeners first heard Casey Kasem count 'em down on station KDEO
in El Cajon/San Diego, California at 7 pm on Friday, July 3, 1970. KDEO
was one of just a few stations across the USA to air the show on its
1st weekend. Throughout the 1970s, and into the 1980s the show's
popularity increased. One of the ways this happened was that the owners
of the show would send "demo
reels" to radio stations to get them to sign on to the show.
By the early 1980's the show was heard on over 500 radio stations in
the USA alone.
Casey counted down the 40 biggest hits off of
Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart. Originally a 3 hour program, AT40
expanded to the now familiar 4 hour length in 1978. Besides
the top 40, AT40 played Long Distance Dedications and extras. The first
Long Distance Dedication, "Desiree" by Neil Diamond, aired in 1978.
Fans could also write in questions and have the AT40 staff answer them,
sometimes on the air.
In the spring of 1979, AT40 published its first book, "Casey
Kasem's Top 40 Yearbook". This book covered every song that
hit the Top 40 from late 1977 to late 1978. Also included in the book
were biographies and pictures of the artsts who charted. Today the book
is a collectible since another yearbook was never produced.
countdowns aired occasionally through the 1970s and 80s. Year-end
countdowns, Christmas countdowns, and AT40 Book of Record shows are
just a few of the many popular specials aired.
Trouble for AT40 began in 1988. Due to contract
concerns, Casey Kasem left the show. Casey's last show aired August 6,
1988. Many radio stations and fans were upset. Casey joined the
Westwood One radio network and created Casey's Top 40. As a replacement
for Casey, ABC Radio Networks hired Shadoe Stevens.
with Shadoe Stevens: August 13, 1988 through January 28, 1995
On August 13, 1988, Shadoe Stevens became the new host
of AT40. Shadoe began the show by doing a "theater of the mind.":
Shadoe walked through an AT40 museum of sorts,
describing the show's history along the way. Near the end of the tour,
Shaode saw a gold statue of Casey Kasem. The tour ended when Shadoe
reached the studios where AT40 was recorded, and then the show's
regular theme began.
The content of AT40 with Shadoe as host remained
basically the same, but some changes would occur during the next few
years. New features that debuted on Shadoe's watch included Flashbacks,
where Shadoe would play clips of the top 5 from a past show, AT40 Music
News, and AT40 Sneek Peek (sic), where Shadoe would
play the song added to most radio stations that week.
Many of the radio stations upset by Casey's departure dropped AT40 in
early 1989 when Casey's new show, "Casey's Top 40" debuted. Another
blow to AT40 occurred during the early 1990s, when major changes to the Top
40 format took place. Top 40 stations splintered into subformats,
including Top 40/Mainstream, Top 40/Adult, and Top 40/Rhythm. Rap and
Grunge became quite popular as well. At the same time, Billboard
decided to change the way it tabulated the Hot 100. Billboard was now
able to track how many copies of a single was sold as well as how many
times a song was played on radio stations. On November 30, 1991, the
new Hot 100 debuted. Due to the methodology change, more rap and other
nontraditional Top 40 music now appeared in the top 40 positions of
In order to keep a similar pop sound, AT40 switched to an
airplay-only chart, the
Top 40 Radio Monitor, on November 30, 1991. However, this
chart also included the nontraditional Top 40 music. Radio stations
continued to drop AT40 and switch to Casey's Top 40 and Rick Dees
Weekly Top 40. (Casey's Top 40 was hosted by Casey Kasem and used the
Radio and Records Top 40 pop chart, which was an airplay chart.) After
1992, AT40 switched charts again, to the Top 40/Mainstream chart, also
an airplay only chart. AT40 used this chart until the end of its run.
Also during this time, AT40 also tried to become more "hip" sounding
and changed its jingles and theme. In the last week of June 1992,
Shadoe announced some changes would occur next week. On July 5, 1992,
the show's 22nd Anniversary, AT40 began with its new theme. Here is a memo
describing the change to radio station program directors. However, all
of this was not enough. AT40 was no longer heard in the USA after
summer 1994, and ended its run on January 28, 1995.
A few specials
aired during Shadoe's reign, including among others "The World Tour",
"Book of Records 80s Edition", and "All-American Fourth of July
Special". When Shadoe took vactions, guest hosts were either music
stars such as Debbie Gibson
or TV actors such as Jay Thomas.
From July 4, 1970 to January 28, 1995, 5363 songs made
the top 40, and
552 songs hit Number One. The first Number One song was "Mama Told Me
Not to Come" by Three Dog Night, and the final Number One was "On
Bended Knee" by Boyz II Men. For examples of important charts in AT40's
history, visit the chart
AT40 with Casey
Kasem: March 28, 1998 to January 3, 2004
At the end of March 1998, "American Top 40" was revived by AMFM
networks, and the show was again hosted by Casey Kasem. In fact, there
were now 3 versions of the show. Besides AT40, which was based on the
Top 40/Mainstream format, there are 2 "American Top 20"s. One version
is based on the Hot Adult Contemporary format (Hot AC), and the other
is based on the Adult Contemporary format (AC). These shows used the
R&R charts. (From October 2000 to August 2001, the shows used
unpublished Mediabase 24/7 charts).
The format of AT40 was very similar to Classic AT40
under Casey's reign.
Ryan Seacrest: January 10, 2004 -
In December of 2003, Premiere Radio Networks announced
that radio and television personality Ryan Seacrest would take over
AT40 in January 2004. AT40's format became more interactive, with
listeners voting on their favorite song via the internet and e-mail to
Ryan being read. In addition, stations could receive the show via the
internet or satellite. Casey Kasem will continue to host American Top
20 and American Top 10 (for more info on these shows, see the history page on the
AT20 section of this site).
Starting at the final weekend of 2000, classic AT40
shows were heard again. The 2nd half of the top 100 hits of 1985 was
played on several stations, especially stations with a 1980's lean.
Each week the show plays the final 3 hours of classic AT40 shows from
the 1980s. The show ended its run in December 2002. For more
information on the show, visit the Flashback
AT40 on XM
After a brief run on XM in 2003, AT40 returned to XM in
August 2006. For the weekend of August 4, 2006, a marathon of shows was
run on both the 1970s and 1980s channels. After the marathon, 1
or 2 shows per week were aired.
The 1970s and AT40: The 1980s
In late 2006, Premiere Radio Networks began producing a show
the old AT40 Flashback. Instead of the 1980s shows, enitre 1970s shows
were made available for radio stations to air. The only catch was that
only 3 hour shows were available to air, meaning only shows before the
1978 switch to 4 hours are available.
In April 2007, Premiere made 1980s shows available once
The format is the same as the 1970s show above. More details about
these shows can be found on this
American Top 40 celebrated its 38th anniversary on July
4, 2008. Come visit this tribute
to the number one countdown show.
Information on Classic AT40
A thorough history of AT40 can be found in Rob Durkee's book "American
Top 40: The Countdown of the Century". As of this writing, the book is
out of print. Ebay sometimes has a copy for sale. Local
or used book stores might also have a copy.
For a detailed analysis of every AT40 show from the 1970s, be sure to
check out Pete Battistini's book "American
Top 40 with Casey Kasem (The 1970s)"
A detailed analysis of the shows under Shadoe's reign of AT40 is being
compiled by the author of this site and can be found on the Show by Show page.
above information comes from: the former "American Top 40 Celebration"
page, reading Billboard Magazine (though no specific articles are
knowingly quoted), listening to AT40 shows, and personal communication
with Mr. Rob Durkee as well as information provided on Mr. Durkee's
AT40 site, and press releases from Premiere Radio Networks. This
information is posted for educational purposes only. For a thorough
review of AT40 history, read "American Top 40: The Countdown of the
Century" by Rob Durkee.
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This page last updated July 13,