Casey Kasem, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 82, is a showbiz legend for more than one reason. He, of course, hosted the American Top 40 radio countdown for nearly 40 years. He voiced the iconic Shaggy in Scooby Doo cartoons for nearly as long. He also did voiceovers for numerous commercials and cartoons, and was even a political activist of note.
However, to a demographic below a certain age, Kasem was known for something else: A notorious audio outtake in which Kasem, while hosting American Top 40, berates his staff for placing a somber long-distance dedication following an uptempo song, leading the host into an incongruous transition. The story of the “little dog named Snuggles,” and Casey’s meltdown over having to talk about “a fucking dog dying,” was that rare thing, a pre-Internet viral clip:
What was so hilarious about the clip was that it was 180 degrees away from Kasem’s established persona- smooth, soothing, friendly, and certainly not screaming like a lunatic about a dog dying. It wasn’t like the Bill O’Reilly “we’ll do it live” clip, when everyone watching probably assumed he acts like that all the time.
Here’s what we know about the story: According to a Mentalfloss article from 2009, the tape is from the September 14, 1985 edition of “American Top 40.” The “up-tempo goddamned record” was “Dare Me” by the Pointer Sisters, while the song dedicated to the little dog named Snuggles was “Shannon” by Henry Gross.
The exact circumstances of who originally leaked the tape, and to whom, are likely lost to history. But in those pre-Internet times, the clip was supposedly passed around by engineers for a few years, before Howard Stern and various other morning radio shows got ahold of it, turning the clip into a minor radio staple by the following decade (I first heard of it on the KQRS Morning Show in Minneapolis, at some point in the early ’90s.)
In 1991, the band Negativland recorded a song called “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which sampled both the “Snuggles” rant and another famous Casem clip, in which Casey took a shot at U2:
As for other parts of the story: The “Is Don on the phone?” is likely referring to Don Bustany, the co-creator of “Top 40.” I have no idea what “what happened to the pictures I was supposed to see this week” is in reference to. And to the best of anyone’s knowledge, the family of Snuggles the Dog has never broken their silence about their part in this iconic American moment.