More than seven years after Kemal Amin "Casey" Kasem passed away, his daughter Kerri Kasem is aiming to set the record straight on the radio legend's end-of-life care and his final days.
Throughout his long and illustrious career, Casey had one of the most distinct and recognizable voices on the radio. He created the popular music countdown program American Top 40 (AT40), and many grew up hearing him as the voice of Shaggy in the original Scooby-Doo TV series.
The disc jockey ended up being a mentor to Ryan Seacrest, who took over as the host of AT40 once Casey retired in 2004.
His professional achievements have been well-documented, but the public has only gotten brief glimpses into what his final years looked like.
Kerri's eight-part Audible podcast, Bitter Blood: Kasem v. Kasem, will dive into the circumstances surrounding the radio legend's death.
The series, which is narrated by Cobra Kai actor Martin Kove, will also detail why Casey's brother and his three eldest children, Mike, Julie, and Kerri Kasem, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his widow, Jean Kasem.
In an email exchange with Distractify, Kerri opened up about why she's so passionate about telling her father's story and the advice she has for others who are in similar situations.
Kerri Kasem said that her podcast covers the "ugly reality" of her father's death.
Before Casey died in June of 2014, his children from his first marriage were embroiled in a legal battle with Cheers actress Jean Kasem, whom he married in 1980 (the two had a daughter named Liberty Kasem together).
Casey had been diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, which is degenerative. His health began to really decline in 2013, and he lost the ability to speak and to move around easily. His three eldest children wanted to see him, but they said that their stepmother would not allow it.
They ultimately protested outside of Casey's home in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, Calif., and they sought conservatorship. A judge later ordered Jean and Casey's three oldest children to work out a visitation schedule. In May of 2014, about a month before Casey's passing, Kerri was granted temporary conservatorship over her dad.
In addition to the emotional turmoil that the three siblings were going through because they couldn't physically go and see their dad whenever they wanted, they also didn't agree with the level of treatment that he was getting.
Because of this, after Casey passed away, his brother, Mouner Kasem, and the three oldest Kasem siblings filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Jean. They accused Jean of elder abuse, and they claimed that they had experienced emotional distress as a result of not being able to freely see their dad.
The lawsuit never went to trial because the matter was settled in December of 2019. The Bitter Blood: Kasem v. Kasem podcast features "everything the public would have heard if [the] wrongful death lawsuit had gone to trial."
"The podcast includes depositions from family, friends, doctors, caretakers, and staff who were with my father in his final days," Kerri shared with Distractify. "The show reveals what people didn't see on the news — the ugly reality of what happened during the years surrounding my father’s death."
Kerri also told Distractify that she's been able to heal as a result of creating the podcast.
"Bitter Blood: Kasem vs. Kasem is a cautionary tale that exposes what really happened to my father while raising awareness for elder abuse," she explained. "The years surrounding my father's passing were absolute hell, and while it's painful to go into detail about everything my family has gone through, doing this podcast was an extremely cathartic experience."
"I'm grateful to have partnered with producer Aliza Rosen and her content company AYR Media on this project because it gave me and my family an opportunity to share our story and honor my dad's incredible life and career," the former Who Will Rock You judge added.
Years after Casey Kasem's death, Kerri Kasem wants to raise awareness about elder abuse.
The radio star passed away on June 15, 2014, and his immediate cause of death was ruled to be sepsis from an ulcerated bedsore. After her father's passing, Kerri continued to work on sharing her message.
In 2013, she founded the Kasem Cares Foundation to raise awareness and to educate about the signs and the effects of elder abuse. The organization also aims to help those who are restricted from seeing their own ill parent because of another relative's control.
Though Casey already lives on with his legacy on the airwaves, Kerri hopes that her work after his death can help others who are living through similar situations.
"I want my dad to be remembered for his incredible career, commitment to helping others, his passion for philanthropy and being the best father anyone could ever ask for," Kerri said. "What happened to my family was devastating, but those experiences have given me a platform to help people and make my father proud."
All episodes of Kerri's podcast, Bitter Blood: Kasem vs. Kasem are available on Audible.