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Fish 104.7 first to go all-Christmas this year Nov. 21; B98.5 mixes Christmas in but doesn’t go all the way

First Christmas song this year on 104.7/The Fish: Francesca Battistelli's "Christmas Is."

First Christmas song this year on 104.7/The Fish: Francesca Battistelli's "Christmas Is."

As has been the case the past few years, Christian pop station Fish 104.7 is the first local metro-wide station to go all Christmas.

At 7:37 a.m., the station opted for a new Christmas song by Christian artist Francesca Battistelli called “Christmas Is.”

This is the 11th year in a row the Fish has gone this route. Although it doesn’t really improve Fish’s ratings, the Christian pop station has stuck with the format change because its listeners now expect it. Most Christian pop stations focus on Christmas at this time of year. (Southside Christian station Joy 93.3 usually changes to Christmas at some point, too.)

Over the past few years, its primary Christmas competitor was B98.5, which has launched Christmas the same day, usually around noon but opted for fewer overtly religious Christmas songs than the Fish, which makes sense. It had gone all Christmas every year since 2004, but this year will be different.

B98.5 began playing some Christmas cuts on Thanksgiving day but  has decided not to go all Christmas this year. The pop station, which has been going more current the past 18 months despite still playing cuts from the 1980s and 1990s, has been playing three or four cuts an hour and will ramp up more holiday tunes as it gets closer to Christmas Day. It also recently hired a new program director in Chris Eagan.

Some Christmas fans are protesting vigorously about it but the move every year also turns off people who don’t want to hear Christmas tunes all the time. It has in year’s past given B98.5 a big Christmas ratings boost but in recent years, that effect has not given the station any tangible halo effect after Dec. 25.

Here’s Eagan’s statement on the subject:

When a listener inquires about the Christmas music we explain that based on research and ratings we have decided to not play 24/7 Christmas music as we have in the past. This year we’re mixing some Christmas songs in with our regular playlist and gradually playing more and more as we get closer to 12/25. Our research has shown that the vast majority of people don’t want the switch to “flip” per se, they’d like music sprinkled in with our normal programming.

The decision was made to not go all Christmas based upon the research I mentioned above and slipping ratings last Christmas season. If the demand for 24/7 Christmas music changes, we would certainly consider bringing it back next year, but we will have to evaluate that in 2013.

The first station in Atlanta to go all Christmas was soft pop station Peach 94.9 in 2000. It was a huge hit, which led others to follow. But Peach (which became Lite in late 2002) became a country station right before Christmas in 2006, cutting the Christmas music off in mid December.

Fish’s first Christmas hour included a mix of popular favorites sung by Christian artists (Relient K’s “Sleigh Ride,” MercyMe’s “Joseph’s Lullaby”), originals such as Battistelli’s, and classics by secular artists (Burl Ives‘ “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas,” Michael Buble’s “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow”).

As it has in past years, Fish has also teamed with Chick-fil-A to give listeners wishes. Needs range from help with Christmas gifts to home repairs and medical needs. The program typically generates more than 1,000 nominations annually. The program has given away more than $250,000 in goods and services each year.

I’ve already been listening to all Christmas on Sirius/XM’s Love channel, which becomes Holly. That station switched over a week ago.

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25 comments Add your comment

Atlanta Radio Insider

November 21st, 2012
8:35 am

Uncle Jim

November 21st, 2012
8:55 am

Ho,

J93 is now The Joy FM.

Expect huge ratings for WFSH this season.

Ball Ground Bob

November 21st, 2012
9:00 am

Rodney, as you know there’s been a lot of discussion recently on radio boards about B98’s Xmas music plans. No surprise to anyone who knows the ATL radio market that B is not going all Xmas this year, except the radio insider after reading his blog this morning, he’s shocked and apparently out of touch.
Bob

Jeremy T

November 21st, 2012
9:02 am

Radio stations playing Christmas is a non issue, everyone has their own CD’a, I-pods etc.

Terry

November 21st, 2012
9:04 am

I enjoy hearing the Christmas music on the radio while shopping etc but honestly by the time we get closer to Christmas I”m pretty sick of it.
terry

Hershel Goldstein

November 21st, 2012
9:07 am

I wish someone would go all Hanukkah!!!

Patrick

November 21st, 2012
9:14 am

Ha! You called it “Peach” when it was actually Lite FM right before they changed to “The Bull”. I still referred to it as “Peach”, even when it was “Lite”.

The earliest I’d heard any radio station switch to Christmas music was back in 2001 right after 9/11. Seemed like a week later, either The Fish or Peach had already made the switch.

I’ll play my “Christmas” playlist probably two weeks before Christmas. It contains the classics, some religious tunes, and a few instrumentals. None of the modern “pop” renditions of the classics. You want to get me heated up, just start a discussion about Justin Bieber’s rendition of “Jingle Bells” or Nicki Minaj’s version of “Santa Baby”. I’ll take the originals, thank you.

ATL Radio Insider

November 21st, 2012
9:20 am

Bob, my projection from earlier was only based on what the salespeople originally told me before B got a new PD. I am not out of touch and not really shocked. Thanks.

Ball Ground Bob

November 21st, 2012
9:58 am

O’K insider, got it. BTW the new PD started Sept 4th, so whatever info you allegedly got recently was inaccurate and came long after Mr Eagan arrived. Good news here is you promoted your blog on Rodney’s, so maybe you’ll get my eyes on it.

Jason

November 21st, 2012
9:59 am

Who cares about Xmas music on the radio anyway.

Mike in Midtown

November 21st, 2012
10:01 am

Maybe the Game will air Christmas music before returning to Dave, now that would be a Christmas gift. What a waste of a great signal.

Wayne stuck in AL

November 21st, 2012
11:02 am

This makes me glad I’m no longer in the Atlanta radio market.

Atlanta Radio Insider

November 21st, 2012
11:50 am

So, Bob, are you going to say “I told ya so” and just stop talking about it? Go talk to any industry analyst in Atlanta and ask what he or she thought about B going Christmas. And the sales people told me B was going all Christmas in late August.

brian j

November 21st, 2012
1:17 pm

@Mike in Midtown – I hope so, bring back Dave fm!!!

Wayne stuck in AL

November 21st, 2012
2:59 pm

I spoke too soon: a station in Montgomery has also gone All-Xmas.

Mike Rafone

November 21st, 2012
7:02 pm

Oh, hey, this is great! A feud between Atlanta Radio Insider and some guy in Ball Ground! That’s about as exciting as dreaming about Dave FM coming back.
Back on topic — with the growth of personal music systems, it really is inconsequential about radio stations shifting their playlists to holiday music. Just another tradition, something else that was well-loved and significant passing away …

Eric

November 21st, 2012
7:33 pm

Don’t know if B98 will be jumping on the Christmas music band-wagon this week. In previous years, B98 would typically start playing Christmas music the day before Thanksgiving. Don’t know if one of the Clear Channel owned stations (like 94.9 The Bull) will be airing Christmas music either. A lot of Clear Channel owned stations (like WLIT Chicago and WASH D.C.) typically start airing Christmas music the Friday before Thanksgiving… even the syndicated Delilah show does too. I’m assuming that B98 must have dropped her show a while back.

Rodney Ho

November 21st, 2012
11:49 pm

B98.5 is going to start playing some xmas music at 7 p.m. Thanksgiving day, then ramp up until Dec. 9, when it plans to go all-Christmas.

Maria

November 22nd, 2012
1:21 am

Enter your comments here

Chuck M

November 22nd, 2012
8:51 am

Let’s hope the DJ’s at B98.5 do away with political correctness, and say they are playing “Christmas” favorites and not say they are playing “holiday” favorites.

Atlanta Radio Insider

November 22nd, 2012
7:17 pm

B98.5FM first “Blended” Christmas song- Train’s take on “Joy To The World”, a new addition to their holiday playlist!

http://atlradioinsider.blogspot.com/2012/11/wsb-fm-will-not-go-all-christmas.html

Atlanta Radio Insider

November 22nd, 2012
7:22 pm

***Actually, Correction on that one. The first christmas song, which aired at 5:42 was Colbie Caillat’s “The Christmas Song”.

Joan

November 23rd, 2012
3:36 pm

I miss the old B98.5. Now it’s just a Star wannabe.

Ina Parry

November 25th, 2012
9:10 pm

I love listening to holiday music on the radio while in my car and look forward to it every year. So besides the Fish, who is playing it PLEEZE

Rodney Ho

November 25th, 2012
9:13 pm

Besides Joy 93.3 and Fish, nobody else in metro Atlanta is playing all Christmas music. B98.5 is playing three or four cuts an hour right now.