Damian Einstein, the longtime WHFS-FM deejay whose removal from the airwaves in May 1989 provoked thousands of letters of protest as well as petitions and demonstrations, will return to his midday shift on Oct. 22.

The move was part of an agreement announced jointly yesterday by WHFS (99.1) and the Maryland Commission on Human Relations, whose preliminary investigation found probable cause for a handicap discrimination complaint filed by Einstein shortly after he was removed from his daily show. Einstein, who had been on the air since 1970, has a slight speech impediment resulting from a 1975 car crash. After a long rehabilitation, he returned to the air in 1977.

After removing Einstein, who uses only his first name on the air, WHFS General Manager T. Alan Hay denied that Einstein's speech impediment was an issue, citing consultants' reports and letters of complaint and saying the new owner of the progressive-rock station, Duchossois Communications Inc., was simply trying to improve its traditionally low ratings. The state commission, however, concluded that Einstein's ratings were among the highest of any deejay's on the station; that WHFS had failed to substantiate that Einstein's disability was a detriment to its business or ratings; and that the action represented "the stereotypical discriminatory attitudes that {since Einstein's} delivery was different from similarly situated employees, it necessarily diminished the station's image, ratings and revenues."

Protests had been lodged not only by listeners and artists whose music was featured on the station, but by many advertisers as well.

Since losing his midday show, Einstein has been reduced to two prerecorded 15-minute weekday slots and a Saturday morning blues show. The agreement to put Einstein back on the air in the 9-to-noon slot was negotiated by Michael Foreman, general counsel for the commission. The complaint had been certified for public hearing, with the next step the filing of a formal complaint. The resolution, Foreman said, does not represent an admission on WHFS's part, adding that "it is in everyone's best interest. ... The real winners are the thousands of WHFS fans who will again have the benefit of Damian's significant music experience."

Yesterday Hay said, "I'm glad that this has been worked out." In a statement, he added: "We anticipate a smooth and successful transition back. ... He has our full support and backing. Now we want to move forward together and return our focus to the business of radio."

"I'm back in the saddle," Einstein said last night. "I feel very relieved and I'm grateful that it's all behind me and I'm glad to be back and involved again."