It’s either Christmas in Albany or it’s a holly, jolly publicity stunt.
At midnight Wednesday, PopCrush 105.7 WQSH-FM stopped playing top-40 hits and started playing only Christmas music under a new name — 105.7 Santa-FM.
Townsquare Media of Albany, which owns the station, announced the change Wednesday.
“This might strike some as being risky in this environment of new media, but I’ve looked at the numbers and they don’t lie,” said Jake Demmin, the company’s local market president, in a news release. “There’s literally a clamoring for Christmas music 24/7/365/52.”
Steve Richards, the company’s operations manager, denied claims people made on social media sites that the change was only temporary — a way for the station to get some free advertising as it prepares to launch a new format.
“This is our format,” he said. “It’s holiday music 24/7, 365 days a year.”
Richards said the company had an independent party poll Albany radio listeners, and the listeners wanted more Christmas music.
“People wanted this, so that’s why we’re giving it to them,” he said. “It’s been a long winter, and it truly is everything from Sting to Bing.”
He said the response from listeners calling in and on social media has been “great so far.” Even though it’s March, snow was falling when the station made the switch, he noted.
The station had a plow truck driver call right after the Christmas music started and say he loved it, Richards said.
“There was a listener who emailed and said they were getting ready to put their Christmas lights back up,” he added.
Even the employees, who will now be listening to Christmas music daily, have embraced the move, he said.
“Our talent loves it,” he said. “We even had one of our sales guys dressed up as Santa.”
People took to social media after the announcement to offer comments — but they weren’t all jolly.
“I would rather listen to a romance novel book on tape narrated by Roseanne Barr,” one commenter said on The Daily Gazette’s Facebook page. “I would rather listen to Gilbert Gottfried read ‘Crime and Punishment.’ ”
“I always have my radio tuned to 105.7, until this morning when I heard this,” said another. “Now it’s B95.5.”
Said another commenter: “You all have to know this is just a stunt to get publicity before switching to a new format, right?”
Richards said the negative comments didn’t surprise him.
“There are always Grinches,” he said. “Even when stations switch to Christmas music during the holiday season, there are always naysayers.”