That same year, he was also given the reigns of "American Top 40" from creator Casey Kasem. He still holds both of those roles today, hosts a daily radio show, "On Air with Ryan Seacrest," for KIIS-FM, and hosts and produces programming for E! Entertainment Television.
Despite their parallel paths, today's times vs. America in the '50s makes Seacrest a different kind of entertainment beast than Clark, according to Grego.
"Ryan Seacrest is more ubiquitous today than Dick Clark was," she said. "That's partially due to Ryan's ambitions and activities and the fact that society is more connected than it was in Dick Clark's era. If you just take the TV part of the entertainment landscape, how that has evolved and spread out since Dick was 30 years old – back then, there were three networks. It was a completely different thing."
Seacrest's genial demeanor, endless supply of energy, and ability to seemingly be everywhere all the time has made him, as Village Voice cultural critic Michael Musto put it, an obvious choice whenever Hollywood is "fishing around for someone to carry on someone else's legacy." (See: Regis Philbin, Matt Lauer.)
"In this case, Dick was obviously helping pave the way for Ryan's ascendance, and now Ryan can probably do the New Year's countdown alone," Musto said. "But there was something about Dick Clark's persona that is completely irreplaceable. He was there, in the early days of the rock and pop explosion, and gave it a venue for the masses. He did that before social networking, reality TV, and other easy means of attention grabbing. That's an achievement that will linger long after the glow of the 'American Idol' competition fades."
Still, "American Bandstand" regular Eddie Kelly can't think of anyone more equipped to do what Clark did best.
"Ryan has the personality, he has the looks -- he just has it," Kelly said. "Some have it, some don't, and I feel that this guy has it."