June 19, 2014 6:38 AM EDT

At 17, I fell in love so deep it lasted a lifetime. The love of my life? Radio. It was then, on the way to my first “on-air” audition, that I turned on the car radio and heard a fascinating voice. He sounded like a cartoon character. He was counting down the hits from No. 40 to No. 1. When he said, “This is Casey Kasem,” I was hooked. I knew at that moment that if I could learn to count backward, I might have my own show someday. Thanks to Casey’s inspiration, there hasn’t been a day that I did not love being in front of the microphone (in my case, the Neumann U47).

Even though we competed for the same audience at times, I enjoyed a unique friendship with Casey, who died on June 15 at 82. We even shared the same recording studio in Hollywood. Like our friend Dick Clark, Casey was an original. We dedicated this week’s Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 Countdown to Casey Kasem and reminded all artists who strive to be No. 1 to remember Casey’s closing words: “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.”

Dees is the host of the internationally syndicated Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 Countdown

This appears in the June 30, 2014 issue of TIME.

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