It's music to their ears. The Federal Communications Commission last week granted WDCU-FM's (90.1) application to an increase in power from 6,800 to 50,000 watts. That's lots of watts, and will produce some fundamental changes (not format related) in the University of the District of Columbia station. Here's how, according to Station Manager Edith Smith.

First and foremost, it means that DCU will be easier to tune in. Right now, Smith said, some people even in downtown Washington can't get DCU's signal, what with buildings and such in the way. The boost gives the station a cleaner and more distinct signal and enables that signal to travel farther. In fact, the added wattage should double the station's potential audience.

This change in signal, however, has only taken effect on paper. "We still have to purchase a new antenna and transmitter," Smith said, "and we'll have a special {fund-raising} campaign to buy the equipment." She estimates the cost of the hardware at about $113,000, and hopes to raise the money "within the next few months."

Why would a station spend all that money for hardware and all that time and effort applying to the FCC? The higher watts and clearer signal translate into money, whether the station is commercial or nonprofit.

"We can reach more people," Smith explained, "and that represents an increase in fund raising." Or an increase in audience for potential advertisers on a commercial station. In addition, Smith said, "it makes the license more valuable" -- not that DCU is on the market.

The 12 O'Clock Blues

It's too bad WDCU doesn't have the hardware in place yet, because Sunday, from noon to midnight, Steve Hoffman is presenting a blues extravaganza. So much blues, in fact, you'll turn green or see red. Hoffman, who hosts "The Blues Experience" Sundays at 10 p.m., will feature local talent such as Phil Wiggins, John Cephas and the Nighthawks, "then and now" comparisons of individual artists, and more blues than you can shake a stick at.

Of Kids and Violence

Violence, particularly among teen-agers, has become an increasing problem in the city. Last week, WDCU sponsored a luncheon meeting on teen violence, and from noon to 3 p.m. Friday, WWRC-AM (980) will broadcast a "Town Meeting of the Air," with the principal topic of "Children Killing Children Over Drugs," from the main lobby of the Martin Luther King Library. WWRC's Bev Smith will host the live broadcast, and Mayor Marion Barry is among those scheduled to participate. Area school principals have been asked to alert parents about the broadcast and have been asked to allow students to listen to the show. This is the first in a series of live "town meetings" WWRC plans to air in reaction to community problems as they arise.

Einstein's Alternative

You can't keep a good thing quiet. Dave Einstein, program and operations director at WHFS-FM (99.1), received the Alternative Program Director of the Year award from the Gavin Report (a radio trade publication) at its 30th annual meeting in San Francisco.

WHFS has long been a leader in what you could call an "alternative" format, and plans to stay that way. Since the station was purchased by Duchossois Communications in October for $8.24 million, Einstein said, he's been like a kid in a candy store. "We're going to do some more promotions, a lot of things," he said, and reiterated that the eclectic format that made WHFS what it is will not change. The station is currently conducting a listener survey (of some of the most loyal listeners in the area), and "we'll have the opportunity to respond to what our listeners really want," Einstein said.

Three Pitches, You Win

In baseball, three good pitches means you're out. At WMAL-AM (630), three good pitches netted almost $14,000 for KIDS Inc., an organization that grants wishes for terminally ill children. KIDS was short of funds to help two children, and was referred to Chris Core of the afternoon Trumbull and Core show. Core read the letter he received over the air just three times, and $14,000 later some wishes were granted.