The end of yet another era is upon us as the NBC Washington radio bureau prepares to close its doors after nearly 61 years of feeding news and information to hundreds of stations coast to coast.

The NBC radio network, sold last month to Los Angeles-based Westwood One, told four reporters in its 16-member bureau here last Friday that they would be let go. Three others -- Bill Groody, Steve Porter and C.D. Jaco -- along with bureau chief Rusty Lutz and computer specialist Tom Foty, will move to the Westwood-owned Mutual Broadcasting System in Crystal City.

The slimmed-down bureau will continue to operate from the Mutual studios and maintain its "NBC Radio News" signature, but its reporters will also file occasional reports for Mutual.

The bureau's seven news editors have been reassigned to NBC television and will not collect severance pay. The five staffers moving to Mutual will collect three weeks' severance for each year they have worked for NBC, while the four laid-off correspondents -- Peter Laufer, Clif Webb, David Rush and Russ Ward -- will receive severance and their personal service contracts will be paid off in full.

"It's time for me to go and I acknowledge that," said Senate correspondent Ward, 61, who began his career with NBC as a news writer at WRC in 1953. "It's like seeing a beloved relative go. NBC has been a big part of my life and I never thought I would see it disappear. It'll still be alive in name, but it won't be the same."

Westwood One has agreed to pay $50 million for the radio news operation and two other networks, Talknet and The Source. However, the deal is not yet final, and a last- minute legal hurdle yesterday forced NBC to keep the bureau open at least through today.

Simpson's Decade Ten years ago today, a successful youngster from Detroit named Donnie Simpson arrived at urban contemporary WKYS-FM (93.9) to host afternoon drive time. Soon, the station brass saw something in Simpson they liked, promoted him to program director and sent the 23-year-old to morning drive. Since then, Simpson, who started in radio at age 15 by hosting teen reports at his hometown WJLB-FM, has guided WKYS to the top of the Arbitron ratings in 14 of the past 22 quarterly surveys of listeners 12 and older. That includes the most recent spring book, which ranked WKYS No. 1, with 7.2 percent of the audience. Simpson is currently ranked fourth among morning deejays.

WKYS staffers intend to surprise Simpson on the air this morning with sound clips from his celebrity interviews over the past decade and anniversary greetings from area and out-of-town disc jockeys and in-studio guests -- celebrities from the music and sports worlds and Mayor Marion Barry. Listeners can wish Simpson a happy anniversary at 7 p.m. Friday during a WKYS party at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. For details, call 885-4797.

P.S.: In case you're concerned that this column might ruin Simpson's surprise, don't be. Staffers promise to hide the Style section from their favorite morning man.

In the Fast Lane Dan Lane appears to be following in Simpson's footsteps. The 13-year-old Vienna boy is the host of "Teen Rap," a half-hour teen-oriented talk show broadcast on Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on Gaithersburg's WMET-AM (1150). This week, Lane's guest is Mutual's late-night talker Larry King. Lane's recent guests on the 1,000-watt, middle-of-the-road station have been WRQX-FM's (107.3) evening jock Uncle Johnny and WAVA-FM's (105.1) night owl Ken Martin.

"He's pretty good and very professional," said an impressed Uncle Johnny. "Anyone who's into it this young probably has a good future in it. If he sticks with it he'll go places." Moving Down the Road A July 12 stroke has forced Raymond Woolfenden to put his family-owned radio station on the market. He's asking $1.2 million for WPWC-AM (1480), a 1,000-watt daytime, 500-watt nighttime country music outlet in Dumfries. A perennial nominee for the Country Music Association's Top 5 Deejays Award (Small Market), 71-year-old "Cousin Ray" has run the station with his wife Doris since 1973 and says he's "feeling much better" but is "not able to do the job I want to do. I wouldn't sell it otherwise," said the crusty announcer, "and I still am not that interested {in selling}." Quips, News and Stuff Actor Elliott Gould to NPR's Scott Simon on Saturday's "Weekend Edition" about flamboyant New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner: "He's my favorite -- favorite actor" ... Q-107 morning newsman Paul Fuller said it best recently when he compared the U.S. mine-sweeping operation in the Persian Gulf to "a deadly Easter egg hunt" ... Former WPGCer Lauri Butler, most recently of Associated Press Radio, has become news director and morning news anchor at new-age WBMW-FM (106.7). Since joining AP nearly 10 months ago, she's used her real name, Lauri Neff, a practice she'll continue at WBMW. Neff replaces Stacy Isaacs, who left after 3 1/2 years at the station.

"It's a mutual parting of the ways," Isaacs said Friday. "I felt I didn't fit the format, and they didn't feel like I fit the format. There's no hard feelings." Isaacs said she's talking with another station and would "be on the air in Washington soon."