A Washington-based group of minority broadcasters and private investors that includes WKYS-FM (93.9) afternoon personality Candy Shannon and former WRQX-FM (107.3) general manager Ernie Fears Jr.has entered the competition to buy urban contemporary WKYS, which NBC put on the market last week.

"I think we have a good shot," Tony Rose, one of the investors, said yesterday. "I think all the ducks are in a row." Rose, sales executive at "Kiss" for a dozen years, said Washington FM Radio Partners was formed more than a year ago when NBC first announced that it expected to have to sell the station because it operated WRC-TV here.

Rose said Radio Partners is offering $45 million to $50 million. If the group buys the station, NBC's parent company, General Electric, could benefit from a tax certificate because of the group's minority status. Thomas Hart, a broadcast attorney who represents the group, said the certificate is worth $7 million.

When formed, Washington FM Radio Partners included Donnie Simpson, WKYS' morning host and program director, but he dropped out soon afterward. Simpson has since expressed an interest in buying the station but last August denied rumors that his partners included boxing champ Sugar Ray Leonard and NBC-TV weather personality Willard Scott. Simpson is believed to be working on a purchase proposal, but is on vacation in Europe and could not be reached.

Fears, general manager of Top 40 Q-107 for a decade until last month, when he and Capital Cities/ABC management parted company, would run WKYS if his group gets the station. Several other bidders, including a community organization led by WOL-AM (1450) owner Cathy Hughes, are thought to be working on offers.

"We haven't gotten together all the information to properly market the station," NBC Radio President Randy Bongarten said yesterday. "We've had a large amount of inquiries, including many from minority groups, but there is no one who has an inside track. It will be an open process."

Bongarten expects to begin negotiations with potential buyers within the next several weeks and says he hopes to complete a deal by the end of the year.

Make Your Own Kind of Humor

With funnyman Christian Paul having left abruptly last month, it would seem that WRQX would want to get all the comedy help it could for the otherwise music-oriented new morning show. But the ABC-owned Top 40 station has decided against renewing its $12,000-plus contract with the American Comedy Network, a Bridgeport, Conn.-based troupe that provides radio stations with humorous songs and routines geared to the adult contemporary/Top 40 morning drive audience.

"We weren't really happy with what we're getting," says Program Director Chuck Morgan, who denies that the move was part of Capital Cities Broadcasting's budget slashing.

DC-101: Doing Damage in Baltimore?

Although rocker WWDC-FM (101.1) and its morning man of mayhem, Doug (Greaseman) Tracht, have been slipping in the Washington Arbitron ratings recently, it appears that more listeners to the northeast are tuning in DC-101's strong 50,000-watt signal -- so much so that WIYY-FM's (97.9) veteran morning man Allan Courduff thinks it was reason enough for "98 Rock" management to dump its lively morning team.

"I'm unemployed -- by the boss' design," said the mild-mannered Courduff last week. "I don't think it was one incident. What they told me was they were making changes in the morning. I think they were unhappy with some of the ratings erosion to DC-101. They {DC-101} have been promoting very heavily in Baltimore, particularly in Anne Arundel County. They have even installed an 800 line."

"The overall ratings for the last year have really maintained in the mid-fives {the middle of the market}," said station manager Chuck DuCoty. "But we thought we should perform better in morning drive." DuCoty admitted that DC-101's popularity has influenced his strategy. Three months ago, Courduff's partner John Panzarella was also let go.

"The thing is that the Greaseman, who has already peaked in Washington, is just peaking in Baltimore," figures Courduff. "I think he did me in."

Courduff says he has applied at other stations in Baltimore, in his home town of Philadelphia and at WBMW-FM (106.7), WRQX and DC-101 here.

On the Air

The congressional Iran-contra hearings, this week starring Lt. Col. Oliver North, resume at 9 a.m. today and can be heard live daily on WPFW-FM (89.3) and WTOP-AM (1500) . . . Joel A. Spivak ("Speaking") returns to WWRC-AM (980) this weekend for a tryout. He'll be on 9 a.m. to noon Saturday; 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday.