The soothing sounds of instrumentals and light vocals were the hands-down favorite among local radio formats in the spring as easy listening WGAY-FM (99.5) shot back to the top of Arbitron's quarterly list, claiming a 7.1 share of listeners 12 years and older. During the survey, taken from March 29 to June 20 and was announced yesterday, the Greater Media-owned station's audience share grew by nine-tenths of a point from winter's third-place 6.2. (The station was No. 1 with a 7.7 share in the fall report.) Urban dance WPGC-FM (95.9) dropped to a 6.8 share from winter's top spot, 7.4. Viacom International's contemporary country combo, WMZQ-AM/FM (1390/98.7), maintained its solid position as one of the area's leading cash cows, with a third-place 6.3 share, up half a point.

There was almost no competition among Top 40 music stations as WAVA-FM (105.1) rebounded from a winter rating of 4.0 to a 5.1 share while Capital Cities/ABC-owned WRQX-FM (107.3) slipped to a 3.2 share, fueling rumors that a format change is in the works.

"They will be out of format in 10 days," predicted WAVA's general manager, Alan Goodman. "If they're smart they'll go adult contemporary, full service, using some of the news people at {sister station} WMAL-AM {630}."

But Q-107 Operations and Program Director Lorrin Palagi denied Goodman's prediction, rumors and a report published in yesterday's Washington Times that indicated the station would soon undergo a format change.

"I'm not changing the format," Palagi said, acknowledging, however, that he is going to "tinker with it... . We have a teen image. We have to fix it so adults know it's okay to listen to Q-107. It's a perceptional thing."

Palagi said he will continue to add music to the station's daytime playlist that tests well with "women over 25," perhaps aiming at the younger spectrum of those tuned to WAVA-FM, WMZQ, WASH-FM (97.1), WXTR-FM (104.1) and WLTT-FM (94.7), all of which have sizable female audiences. Palagi said evening programming will continue catering to listeners in the 12-to-24-year-old bracket.

Urban station WDJY-FM (100.3) continued a downward slide to 1.1 from winter's 1.3 share, also adding to speculation of a format change. Jack Simpson, assistant station general manager, refused to discuss a format change and referred all such questions to General Manager Gary Gross, who'll return to town tomorrow. Two weeks ago, Gross denied rumors that the station would soon move to an adult-contemporary format.

WAVA's Goodman, who suspended his "Morning Zoo" team of Mike O'Meara and Don Geronimo following an on-air tirade by the duo after their poor winter ratings were reported, yesterday asserted that "the last book was just a fluke." (In morning drive ratings, the duo was up sharply, finishing fourth in the market of listeners 12 and older and of the lucrative 25-to-54-year-olds.)

Other big gainers in the 12-plus ratings race were classical WGMS-FM (103.5), jumping eight-tenths of a point to a 3.3 share after dropping a short-lived and sharply criticized "Top 40 classical" format; rock-formatted WWDC-FM (101.1), with a 2.9 share, and talk-formatted WWRC-AM (980), with a 2.2, each up four-tenths of a point.

Urban contemporary WKYS-FM (93.9) nose-dived to a 4.8 share from winter's stunning 7.0, while classic rock WCXR-FM (105.9) fell to 3.9 from 4.3. Too few diary keepers responded to WNTR-AM's (1050) conservative talk programming to get a mention in the survey, but after nearly two years in a business format, WPGC-AM (1580) finally made its mark with a four-tenths share.

Here are the commercial stations' ratings of listeners 12 years and older:

RANK ........................... Spring....Winter

1. WGAY-FM (99.5) ............ 7.1 ..... 6.2

2. WPGC-FM (95.5) ............ 6.8 ..... 7.4

3. WMZQ-AM/FM (1390/98.7) .... 6.3 ..... 5.8

4. WAVA-FM (105.1) (tie) ..... 5.1 ..... 4.0

....WMAL-AM (630) (tie) ....... 5.1 ..... 5.0

6. WKYS-FM (93.9) ............ 4.8 ..... 7.0

7. WASH-FM (97.1) ............ 4.2 ..... 4.5

8. WCXR-FM (105.9) (tie) ..... 3.9 ..... 4.3

. ...WHUR-FM (96.3) (tie) ...... 3.9 ..... 3.9

10. WTOP-AM (1500) ........... 3.9 ..... 3.8

11. WLTT-FM (94.7) (tie) ..... 3.3 ..... 3.1

... WGMS-FM (103.1) (tie) .... 3.3 ..... 2.5

... WMMJ-FM (102.3) (tie) ... 3.3 ..... 3.2

14. WRQX-FM (107.3) .......... 3.2 .... 3.4

15. WHFS-FM (99.1) (tie) ..... 2.9 ..... 3.1

....WWDC-FM (101.1) (tie) .... 2.9 ..... 2.5

17. WXTR-FM (104.1) ......... 2.8 ..... 3.1

18. WWRC-AM (980) ............ 2.2 ..... 1.8

19. WOL-AM (1450) ............ 2.0 ..... 2.1

20. WJFK-FM (106.7) .......... 1.9 ..... 1.8

Shop Talk "Captain" Paul Porter, most recently of WDJY-FM (100.3), joins urban adult WHUR-FM (96.3) Saturday where he'll host the popular "Quiet Storm" from 7 to midnight on weekends. Porter replaces Alvin Jones, who moved to competitor WKYS-FM (93.9) to host weekends there. That slot opened nearly three months ago when Kevin James, whose soothing voice got huge weekend ratings, signed off, citing financial reasons. James, who had worked in this market for nearly two decades, said Albimar Communications cut him back to part-time employment and he could no longer afford to work there. He's pursuing a career in making commercials and hopes to land in Los Angeles.