The Wichita Eagle and Beacon Publishing Co. yesterday announced the merger of its two papers effective Oct. 1.

Davis Merritt Jr., executive editor, said declining circulation was the primary reason for dropping The Wichita Beacon, the paper's evening edition.

"It doesn't say anything about the quality of the paper," said Merritt, who added that evening newspapers across the country have reported drops in circulation because of changing life styles.

The Wichita Eagle and Beacon will be published once every morning seven days a week. Merritt said there will be no reduction in full-time staff because of the change.

Norman J. Christiansen, president and publisher, said the company had spent nearly four months working on a special project to improve readership to its readers and advertisers.

The combined publication will include four new community newspapers called "Neighbors" along with expanded coverage of sports, entertainment and leisure, business, finance and consumer news.

The Cleveland Press, city's only afternoon daily newspaper, is also facing a potential, but necessary, takeover.

The Press told union representatives that the paper may fold if a sale to new proprietors doesn't materialize.

The E.W. Scripps Co. of Cincinnati, majority owners of the 102-year-old Scripps-Howard newspaper with a daily circulation of more than 300,000, has been negotiating with Cleveland businessman Joseph E. Cole for a position sale, Cole confirmed last week.

The newspaper, the largest afternoon daily in Ohio, has about 800 employes.

Edward W. Estlow, president and general business manager of the newspaper, sent a letter yesterday to eight unions that are holding contracts with the newspaper.The letter says that if the paper is not sold, there's a "grave possibility that the Press would go out of business," the paper reported yesterday morning.

Carmen E. Parise, business representative of Teamster's Local 473 and spokesman for the newspaper's drivers union, told a meeting of Press and other newspaper drivers Monday night that his union would not negotiate with Cole until the E.W. Scripps Co. indicates its stance on the sale.

In a letter to the owners, Parise demanded financial information on the newspaper and asked weather there were potential buyers other than Cole, chairman of the Cleveland-based Cole National Co.

Cole said last week that Cole National, which operates optical, key, cookie and monogram shops, is not involved in the bid to buy.