(July 2, 2024).  This fall, there will be a change at the helm of one of television’s most beloved game shows, Wheel of Fortune.

After more than 40 years — 41 to be exact — longtime host Pat Sajak will have turned over the reins to Ryan Seacrest, longtime American Idol host.  

Seacrest also happens to be the guy that’s been spinning tunes on radio’s nationally syndicated countdown show American Top 40 ever since the late Casey Kasem handed him the keys to the studio in January 2004 (that makes Seacrest the iconic show’s longest continuous host, btw, as Kasem’s stint, which began in 1970, included a ten-year break between 1988-98).

Oh there’s more.  

Seacrest’s been doing the late Dick Clark’s former duties on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, counting down the seconds in Times Square before the annual ball-drop officially rings in the new year.  He co-hosted with Clark for seven years before taking the job outright after the show’s namesake’s death in 2012. 

All that’s missing for Ryan Seacrest is hosting duties on a reboot of Clark’s American Bandstand or — better yet — Don Cornelius’ Soul Train.

How did it come to this: one man doing the jobs of three titans in entertainment… all at the same time?

Well, technically they don’t all happen at the same time.  The New Year’s Rockin’ Eve duties are seasonal.  American Top 40, which Seacrest now does as an adjunct to his normal weekly radio program (another job btw), is a once-a-week gig (although it probably takes at least a day or two to tape each program).

And Wheel of Fortune, if its production is anything like normal game shows, likely films a week’s worth of programming in one day, meaning Seacrest could probably knock out a month’s worth of shows in less than one week, offering him plenty of spare time for moonlighting (these people are not like us, folks).

In a world where multitasking usually means balancing a laptop on one knee and a phone on the other, Ryan Seacrest has taken it to an Olympian level in an Olympic year! The man is everywhere all the time!  He gives omnipresence and ubiquity special meaning (his face should be in dictionary entries for both terms!). 

Think about it: in one frame juggling talent on “American Idol,” then sliding in front of Casey Kasem’s former mic on AT40, next lighting up Times Square like Dick Clark, and now, spinning the big wheel on “Wheel of Fortune” for Pat Sajak. What kind of trickery is this? How does one man embody the essence of three broadcast legends — Kasem, Clark and Sajak — without spontaneously combusting?  Does he have an army of clones strategically placed around the globe? 

Or maybe he’s cracked the code on time travel.  Seacrest’s ability to be in multiple places at once is something that even quantum physicists might benefit from as a case study.

It’s as if he’s turned hosting into a competitive sport, and he’s the undisputed champion. Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve? Check. American Top 40? Check. Wheel of Fortune? Checkmate. If you turn on any form of media today, odds are Ryan Seacrest is there, smiling, well-coiffed, and affable.

Ryan Seacrest

This blogger, for one, is a bit perplexed by the knowledge that these three iconic gigs could’ve been done by one man all along.  It’s like saying we never really needed a Casey Kasem or a Pat Sajak.  Dick Clark — or any one of the other two — could’ve handled the jobs of all three… or could they?

Back in the day, iconic hosts like Casey Kasem, Dick Clark, and Pat Sajak (and so many others) each had their own distinct personalities, traditions, and show histories. Their unique attributes gave their programs identities. The shows and their hosts were synonymous with one another. They collectively — show and host — became part of the same brand.

Casey Kasem’s never-to-be-duplicated voice and unique storytelling ability carried AT40 for decades. Dick Clark’s hosting duties for Rockin’ Eve came as a natural evolution from his days as a rock-and-roll pioneer in broadcasting. Pat Sajak’s dry wit and longtime synergy with hostess Vanna White made Wheel must-see TV!

Now, it’s as if the broadcast universe has been condensed into a single entity: Seacrest, Ryan Seacrest. It’s not enough that he’s taken over these iconic roles; he’s also managed to make them his own (well, not Wheel yet but he’ll get there).  It’s the 21st Century’s way of asking: who needs three different hosts when one Seacrest can do it all?  It’s like broadcasting’s version of The Highlander: “There can be only one.”

What’s next? Will RS be the voice of Siri, guiding us through traffic and weather updates with his nondescript voice but trademark charm?  Is he secretly training to replace James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader?  At this point, especially with the advent of AI — artificial intelligence, not American Idol — nothing seems impossible!

So, jokes aside, what does this really mean for the future? Will next generations only know of a world where all hosting duties are carried out by one omnipresent figure?  Are we in the throes of some homogeneous era of singular broadcasting stardom?

One thing’s for sure: Ryan Seacrest is redefining the concept of a renaissance man, and he’s likely doing it all with a wink, a smile, and, apparently, the stamina of an over-caffeinated Energizer Bunny. As we marvel (and slightly tremble) at his ubiquity, we can only wonder: what will Seacrest conquer next?


DJRob (he/him) is a freelance music blogger from the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, disco, pop, rock and country genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @djrobblog and on Meta’s Threads.

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By DJ Rob

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