Contemporary dance-oriented WPGC-FM (95.5) built on its summertime lead during the fall Arbitron ratings survey to finish on top, with an 8.1 share of listeners 12 years and older. The jump from summer's 7.5 share included cumulative audience growth to 570,300 weekly listeners, the largest radio audience in Washington. The Prince George's County station was also No. 1 in the morning race, up to 7.3 from a 5.7 share.

Station General Manager Ben Hill, who began revising the station's sound in 1987 after its adult contemporary "Classy 95" format fell flat, credited WPGC's growth to hard-working, high-energy employees.

"I think we have one of the most talented staffs that I've ever worked with. They are all future superstars," Hill said Sunday.

Hill also has bucked the system. Unlike other stations with strong ratings, WPGC has not purchased television advertising time. Instead, it has devoted large chunks of WPGC air time to and invested staff hours in community events. The strategy apparently is paying off.

Meanwhile, Hill last week hired Jay Stevens of Phoenix's KOY-FM to be the station's program director, replacing Dave Ferguson, who resigned in November. He said Stevens is "mature enough to recognize that PGC doesn't need fixing; that he can simply improve on its success." Stevens will begin on Feb. 1.

Easy-listening WGAY-FM (99.5) rebounded from its summer book of 5.9 to a 6.8 share. In the spring, the Greater Media-owned operation was No. 1, with a 7.1 share over WPGC's 6.8, but dropped to fourth place in the summer. Viacom International's country combo WMZQ-AM/FM (1390/98.7) slipped a tenth of a point from its summer 6.5 share but held on to its third-place position, while urban WKYS-FM (93.9) dropped sharply to fourth place with a 4.8 from 6.6. Longtime ratings-getter WKYS apparently lost ground to hard-charging black adult contemporary WMMJ-FM (102.3), which jumped to seventh place with a best-ever 4.0 share from 2.5. However, "Magic 102's" strong finish is due to a small core of listeners tuning in for long periods and not large groups listening for shorter times, according to Arbitron's cumulative figures.

WMAL-AM (630) apparently is still suffering from its summer of discontent when veteran announcer John Lyon was fired and the 30-year-old personality-driven middle-of-the-road format was switched to talk. The station slipped to a 4.6 from 5.1. The fifth-place finish has to raise some corporate eyebrows at ABC/Capital Cities, considering that the company is shelling out nearly $3 million annually to carry Redskins games. Although it's a given that the 'Skins will not be sacked, watch for weak talkers to get cut.

Rocker WWDC-FM (101.1) was flat with a 4.3 share, while Top 40 WAVA-FM (105.1) was unimpressive with a four-tenths increase to 4.0 considering that its only competition, WRQX-FM (107.3), on Labor Day weekend unveiled a softer contemporary sound aimed at thirtysomething women. Now called "Mix 107," the station has handed WAVA its teenage listeners and shown growth in the all-important 25-to-54 category that advertisers like. For Emmis-owned WAVA, however, it's a different story. The station continued losing adult listeners, dropping to a 2.1 from summer's 2.9 share. Perhaps the worst example of WAVA's missing adult audience was at night, when the 50,000-watt signal attracted a woeful 1.0 share for 24th place. In the same adult category, even WCPT-AM's (730) CNN Headline News format at 19 watts fared better in its survey debut at night with a 1.3 share for 21st place.

News hounds searching for new information outlets apparently helped WCPT, which marched into the book for the first time since it picked up the CNN audio feed with a 0.4 share in the 12-and-over category. WWDC-AM (1260), which in the fall began simulcasting the audio portion of WRC-TV's evening news, jumped sharply to a 1.2 from 0.7; and business news WPGC-AM (1580) jumped three-tenths to a 0.6 share.

But WMAL, WTOP-AM (1500) and WWRC-AM (980), all known for their news/talk, generally did poorly despite news in the Persian Gulf, Marion Barry's sentencing and the general elections. WTOP dropped two-tenths to 3.5 share to tie its slipping sister-station WASH-FM (97.1). WWRC was unchanged from summer's 2.1 share. WMAL, WTOP and WWRC all lost the coveted money demo, adults.

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

................................Fall....Summer

1. WPGC-FM (95.5)..............8.1......7.5

2.WGAY-FM (99.5)..............6.8......5.9

3.WMZQ-AM/FM (1390/98.7)......6.4......6.5

4.WKYS-FM (93.9)..............4.8......6.6

5.WMAL-AM (630)...............4.6......5.1

6.WWDC-FM (101.1).............4.3......4.3

7.WAVA-FM (105.1) (tie).......4.0......3.6

7.WMMJ-FM (102.3) (tie).......4.0......2.5

9.WCXR-FM (105.9).............3.7......4.3

10.WASH-FM (97.1) (tie).......3.5......5.1

10.WTOP-AM (1500) (tie).......3.5......3.7

12.WHUR-FM (96.3).............3.3......3.6

13.WLTT-FM (94.7) (tie).......3.0......3.5

13.WRQX-FM (107.3) (tie)......3.0......3.3

13.WGMS-AM/FM (570/103.5) (tie)3.0......na

16.WXTR-FM (104.1)............2.8......2.4

17.WETA-FM (90.9).............2.5......2.5

18.WHFS-FM (99.1).............2.3......2.6

19.WOL-AM (1450) (tie)........2.1......1.3

19.WWRC-AM (980) (tie)........2.1......2.1

21.WAMU-FM (88.5) (tie).......2.0......1.7

21.WJFK-FM (106.7) (tie)......2.0......2.0

23.WDJY-FM (100.3)............1.6......1.0

24.WYCB-AM (1340).............1.4......1.3

25.WWDC-AM (1260).............1.2......0.7

Tidbits

Sam Donaldson will anchor "What Now, Iraq?," a special edition of ABC's "American Agenda" series, tomorrow at 2 p.m., heard locally on WMAL-AM (630). Donaldson will take calls at 1-800-622-3143 ... WPGC-AM expects to begin broadcasting around the clock this week. Watch for other significant changes at the station soon.