Casey Kasem made a couple of cameos during Saved by the Bell‘s run. He also made a cameo at my high school. We felt like Bayside for a day. When Casey Kasem died this summer, there were many angles to look at when considering his lengthy and storied career. There was the tragic family drama surrounding his end-of-life care which continue today with where exactly he will be buried/cremated. There were the touching tributes from music critics and fans about how American Top 40 had a profound impact. To a lesser extent, there was Kasem’s voice acting credits (including Shaggy from Scooby Doo), but that’s almost a given if your main drag is radio. When I heard the news, I thought about high school.
It was ninth grade and we were going to a school assembly featuring guest speaker Casey Kasem. I was well aware of his contributions to the pop culture landscape (see above), and that this was kind of a big get for any school.1 As the audience chattered away waiting for the assembly to start, I could overhear conversations about people wondering who this guy is. “He’s the guy from that Saved by the Bell with the sprain.”
I couldn’t help but feel a little offended. We were about to be an audience for a guy who has been in The Industry for decades, and a cameo on a stupid show was the only touchstone? Looking back it was an ugly moment of thought. Who cares if a bit part—which may have been forced by NBC to create crossover with the music countdown—is the only reference point? It was enough to get people excited to hear what he has to say. Casey’s speech was about the contributions of Arab-Americans in American society. Although it read more like a who’s who of long distance dedications, it was exactly the kind of message our high school should be hearing.2
Although I wish I had appreciated the speech more for its content at the time, I can now watch the Sprain and Zack Attack episodes3 and appreciate being a part of the audience that day.