Mike Riccio Surveys The Top 77 Of 2016
by Scott Benjamin



The Top 77 Of All Time has reached a notable milestone this year.

It now has been going longer than the Musicradio77 WABC Top 100 lasted.

From 1964 through 1981 – 18 years - the biggest Top 40 station in the nation would play the most popular 100 songs from its weekly surveys of the year. The feature would start the day after Christmas and last through New Year’s.

WABC aired promos to have listeners send a self-addressed stamped envelope to get a copy of the survey, which usually arrived in mid to late January featuring a cover with photos of the All American air personalities. Through the years of WABC Rewound, several listeners sent in tapes of WABC shows during the Top 100 week, apparently because they wanted to have tapes of the top songs and there was more time available while the schools were on vacation.

Mike Riccio, a Long Island Real Estate broker and former air personality at WBLI, WLIX and WGLT, started taking votes at Musicradio77.com in 1998, as the Internet was emerging, for a Top 77 survey of the best songs of all time. Now in its 19th year, the Top 77 is now older than what the WABC Top 100 was in 1981, the last full year that WABC was a music station. It converted to talk shows in May 1982.

OldiesBoard.com also sponsored the voting and Rewound Radio airs the Top 77, starting with a countdown show the day after Christmas.

“We’re trying to recapture the excitement that was there during the holiday week with the WABC Top 100,” said Mike, who discussed the mechanics of compiling the survey many years ago with the late Rick Sklar, the famed WABC program director.

The most popular artist on the Top 77 has been, as expected, The Beatles. Their 1968 hit Hey Jude, which was released on their new Apple label was number one on WABC’s Top 100 that year. It has been the top song on the Top 77 in 17 of the first 18 years.

The one exception was 2010, when the Four Seasons’ Rag Doll took the top place.

Voting for this year’s Top 77 began at Rewound Radio, The Oldies Message Board and Musicradio77.com on October 10 and will conclude November 28. “The ballots have been coming in at a pretty good pace,” Mike said.

For the second time, voters can make up to 10 selections.

“It provides more variety,” said Mike, who is counting the ballots with fellow Musicradio77.com survey guy Tom Natoli. They are among the contributors who some years ago assembled each of the weekly WABC surveys from 1960 through 1982. Frank Thomas again has helped assemble the software.

Mike said through the years they have been better able to block multiple voters as the software has become more sophisticated. Also in the recent years a voter can see the name, artist and year of the song after starting to type the first word of the song’s title.

For many years, Cousin Brucie and later George Michael would count down the WABC Top 20 survey on Tuesday night. The surveys also appeared in record stores in the metro New York City area.

Mike said after the Beatles, the usual most popular artists are the Four Seasons, the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones.

He said through the early weeks there are more votes than usual for Bob Dylan, who recently won a Nobel Prize, and New Jersey-born Bruce Springsteen, who recorded a majority of his hits after WABC became a talk radio station.

“There also has been a lot of votes for the Motown acts,” Mike said regarding the popular record label that Barry Gordy started more than a half century ago.

He added that such standards as Don McLean’s American Pie, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven and Richard Harris’ McArthur Park are again popular in 2016.

Mike said the Rewound Radio Top 77 countdown, which will feature weekly Rewound Radio air personality Bob Radil, a Connecticut native, Tom Natoli and himself, will air December 26. He added that Rewound Radio will play the Top 77 and most of the other songs that got votes through New Year’s Day.

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