City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
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City & State or ZIP Tonight, this weekend, May 5th...
City & State or ZIP

104.7/The Fish launches all Christmas as usual, with B98.5 joining at noon

Bing_Crosby_comp_Irving_Berlin_orchestr-_3It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Christian pop station 104.7/The Fish brought in Montell Jordan to play a Christmas mix of his song “Shake Heaven” at 7:45 a.m. this morning to launch its annual all-Christmas music format. This is about the same time it made the switch the past two years.

In 2009, the first song was Matthew West’s “Give This Christmas Away” with Amy Grant.  Last year, it was Amy Grant’s “Jingle Bells.”

Over the next 32 days, the station will play more than 9,000 Christmas songs, a mix of secular and religious, from “Sleigh Ride” and “White Christmas” to “What Child is This?” and “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” And some of the same songs will be played by at least four different artists. Last year, the station spun versions of “O Come All Ye Faithful” by Steven Curtis Chapman, Jeremy Camp, Third Day, Martina McBride, Casting Crowns and Rush of Fools.

A year ago, the station kept the format rather tight, with 170 songs, some aired as many as five times a day, according to Mediabase 24/7. The oldest song: the Bing Crosby classic “White Christmas” from 1942. Most popular artist: Amy Grant (11 different cuts) Most played: “Angels We Have Heard On High” by Third Day.

And while stations are generally reluctant to try out brand new Christmas songs, Fish did roll out a couple last year, including Matthew West’s “One Last Christmas.” and TobyMac’s “Christmas This Year.”

This is the tenth year Fish has gone to an all-Christmas format, though a former soft rock station 94.9/Peach (late Lite) launched the concept in Atlanta back in 2000 before changing format to country in the middle of Christmas season in 2006.

Since 2004, B98.5 has opted to go full-on Christmas during the holidays, with huge ratings impact. On schedule, as it has the past two years, four hours after the Fish, the station switched to Christmas today at noon with the Barenaked Ladies/Sarah McLachlan version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” followed by Tony Bennett’s “My Favorite Things” and Christina Aguilera’s “The Christmas Song.”

The station’s playlist last year was of comparable length to that of the Fish, according to Mediabase 24/7. It had about 160 songs in rotation, not counting the evening syndicated show Delilah, which played many more.  Its song selection was more conservative than that of the Fish and heavily secular. Last year, it played only one cut in its regular rotation that had been released after 2004: Mariah Carey’s live version of “O Holy Night” from 2010.

Last year, the pop station spun:

11 different versions of “Let It Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” (including Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr. and Aaron Neville)

11 of “Winter Wonderland” (including Eurythmics, Tony Bennett and Englebert Humperdinck)

10 of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (including the Carpenters, the Pretenders and Whitney Houston)

10 of “The Christmas Song” (including Michael Buble, 98 Degrees and Gloria Estefan)

10 of “Sleigh Ride” (including Air Supply, the Ronettes and Boston Pops Orchestra).

Will the playlist change much this year? Yes. Already in the first hour, the station has played several Christmas cuts it did not do so last year, including Bruce Springsteen’s “Merry Christmas Baby,” the Carpenters’ “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” John Mellencamp’s “I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus” and Boyz II Men’s “Let it Snow.”

Lee Cagle, the program director, said the playlist hadn’t been freshened in years so he switched out quite a bit of music, while keeping classics such as “Feliz Navidad”  that cannot possibly be deleted. Sure, it’s many of the same songs we hear each year but the station is mixing up the artists compared to 2010.

Sirius/XM has been playing all Christmas earlier this month on its Love channel, which focuses on more recent artists as well as a separate channel with classic singers and acts. And if you were at many malls, you could hear Christmas music as early as Nov. 1.

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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk

35 comments Add your comment

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November 23rd, 2011
9:43 am

Actually, Sirius/XM has two Christmas stations. Channel 147 and channel 17. One is more recent songs while the other is more of the “old favorites”

Fish Fan

November 23rd, 2011
10:00 am

Rodney, The 1st Fish Christmas song was actually Montell Jordan’s “Shake Heaven Christmas Remix.: He helped launch the Christmas music in studio with their morning show.

Wayne stuck in AL

November 23rd, 2011
10:47 am

If I had to listen to that station, I’d be screaming like Ted Nugent at the end of “Cat Scratch Fever”.

Rodney Ho

November 23rd, 2011
11:18 am

Thanks @Fish Fan. I tuned in at about 7:50 a.m. and missed the official launch. I went on to check the playlist and didn’t realize that Montell Jordan song had any Christmas connection. You informed me now that it was a “Christmas mix” which is why.


November 23rd, 2011
11:54 am

The Fish has a limited playlist all year long and the morning show is hard to listen to.

Sirius/XM is the way to go. Terrestrial radio sux so bad in this town.


November 23rd, 2011
12:11 pm

@Leedawg what makes the morning show so hard to listen to? I think, considering their limitations, Kevin and Taylor do a pretty solid job.


November 23rd, 2011
12:52 pm

christmas music sucks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hershel Goldstein

November 23rd, 2011
12:59 pm

Where is the Hanukkah music?!?!?!


November 23rd, 2011
1:03 pm

My favorite is CHRISTMAS IS by Jack Jones..I only hear it on 98.5 at least 4xs a day and I never get tired of singing along..only problem is it makes me think of my moms who left this world Oct 2008. But hey its sure puts me in the Christmas Mental.Tears and all.


November 23rd, 2011
1:08 pm

Have to wait for 90.1 WABE’s Hanukkah music special with Leonard Nemoy – great program!

As for the Christmas music, long live the “oldies but goodies” – too many pop versions make me sick!


November 23rd, 2011
1:31 pm

Yeah, let’s start the day before Thanksgiving. We rush through the year as it is, no sense enjoying one holiday before moving on to the other. I’ll be on talk radio until Friday.


November 23rd, 2011
1:34 pm

Got it all on the iPhone….No commerical radio, no listening to the same 4 songs over and over and over and over…..

Unfortunately radio in Atlanta is dead. Has been dead for years. No variety, no oldies, just a bunch of useless crap with too many commercials. You hear the same songs over and over and over and over, and most of them are played at the same time every day…

I ditched Atlanta radio a few years ago!!! All my music is on my phone. I have a docking station at home, and a wireless transmitter for the car. Oh and Pandora internet radio is good too.


November 23rd, 2011
1:35 pm

Yeah 104.7 is sometimes irritating. Kevin & Taylor are a great pair – but Kevin sounds more like a woman than Taylor many times. The words he uses and his expressions grate me, as a man!


November 23rd, 2011
1:42 pm

never listen to the fish,and now wont be listening to b98.5 until dec 26,christmas songs suck and b98.5 you lose me every year when you start this stupid stuff

Merry Christmas

November 23rd, 2011
1:51 pm

B98.5 thank you for the Christmas music,its ok to say “Merry Christmas” instead of Happy Holidays


November 23rd, 2011
2:35 pm

I wouldn’t mind this so much if they didn’t play the same stinking 10 Christmas songs over and over.


November 23rd, 2011
2:41 pm

I truly enjoy listening to Christmas music and it was a delight to wake up to it this morning to FISH. Christmas is only once a year and this music just spreads it out a little longer and gives me a lift. I feel sorry for those who have made negative comments. Personally, I just enjoy listening to music that has no profanity , or rude lines etc in it.

Let me take this opportunity, to say MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HANUKKAH to my Jewish friends. May this time of the year, bring you all peace, happiness and blessings

Captain Midnight

November 23rd, 2011
3:08 pm

I can only HOPE they’ve dropped that aweful, ghetto, 15 min rendition of Silent night from Christina Auguliera.


November 23rd, 2011
3:16 pm

I would like to get to Thanksgiving first, before we start playing Christmas music.

Captain Midnight

November 23rd, 2011
3:25 pm

And the Diana Ross version of Silver Bells…terrible…nails down a blackboard.
” It’s Christmas time in tha CiiiiiiTeeee…” head hurts thinkin about it.

Captain Midnight

November 23rd, 2011
3:27 pm

Honorable mention..BonJovi BUTCHERING Eagles “Please come home for Christmas”.


November 23rd, 2011
4:25 pm

Christmas Shoes = WORST song of all time

Plain Jane

November 23rd, 2011
5:45 pm

@dtanner: Last year, if I’m remembering right, B98.5 didn’t come off the all-Christmas format until December 27!

Rodney Ho

November 23rd, 2011
5:52 pm

@Plain Jane. I checked the call logs. B98.5 switched back to regular pop/rock at 7 p.m. December 26 with “Smooth” by Santana. The final xmas song of that year was Whitney Houston’s “Do You Hear What I Hear?”

Plain Jane

November 23rd, 2011
6:13 pm

Oh, OK. I just remember passing by that station at some point during the day on the 26th and wondering they’d forgotten to go back!


November 23rd, 2011
6:23 pm

Who is Felix Navidad? The Christmas Shoes is a great song, however it makes me cry every time I hear it. I personally like Christmas music.


November 23rd, 2011
6:46 pm

I love Christmas music, and I’m glad they waited until (nearly) Thanksgiving. My only gripe is the # of songs they play over and over. EXPAND THE PLAYLISTS!!!! There are a lot more than 200 Christmas songs out there. If it’s not a great version, don’t play it as often, but variety is required. Thank you.


November 23rd, 2011
7:25 pm

“Honorable mention..BonJovi BUTCHERING Eagles “Please come home for Christmas”.” – Captain Midnight, 3:27pm

While I prefer the Eagle version, too, it was also a cover! The original artist was Charlie Brown – the jazz/R&B guy, not the cartoon character. :D

Obama Downgrade

November 23rd, 2011
7:32 pm

EarlyCuyler Sucks


November 24th, 2011
1:00 am

No Christmas music yet! I’m boycotting The Fish, which is typically the only station I listen to, until December. Sure, it’s only a week, but come on . . . just discovered another Christian music station today, so I may be gone from The Fish for good. Why does EVERY SONG have to be Christmas? It tends to lose the meaning after a while… Boo!


November 24th, 2011
5:42 am

For the love of all humanity, DELETE FELIZ NAVIDAD!!! Good God, man! Why must you torture us so, B98.5? While you have that delete key ready, go ahead and get rid of these songs too: STEP INTO CHRISTMAS(Elton John), WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME(Paul McCartney), HAPPY X-MAS(John Lennon), PLEASE COME HOME FOR CHRISTMAS(Eagles), and most definitely LAST CHRISTMAS(Wham!). If you could do that for us, Atlanta would be eternally grateful.

Oh, and you can actually say the phrase, “Merry Christmas”, B98.5. I promise that Jewish people and Muslims and people of every other religion are very much aware that this is the Christmas season. They can get over it if they feel offended.

girl 6

November 25th, 2011
10:24 am

wow, and this started as such a tender hearted subject. anyway, let me add- ” The 1st Fish Christmas song was actually Montell Jordan’s “Shake Heaven Christmas Remix” ????hunh– “this is how we do it” montell has a Christmas song? dont think i wanna hear it. most of the artist named and the songs listed are nice, though. great Christmas favorites–i think ‘do you hear what i hear’ ‘little drummer boy’ and bing’s ‘white Christmas’ are prob my favorites.

girl 6

November 25th, 2011
12:38 pm

oops, artists


November 30th, 2011
11:25 am

We have to listen to B98.5 during xmas at work. The program directory lied about changing the playlist. Same crap as past years. Stupid work won’t let us listen to our own music. Yet, EVERYBODY is complaining about the music.