MELVIN LINDSEY, WHUR -- FM 96.3: Melvin Lindsey says he moves with a "quiet aggressiveness" like a tide. He is unassuming, but rising nonetheless.

In two years, he has risen at WHUR from weekend replacement to star of the "Quiet Storm," the nighttime radio show with the top rating among Washington's over-18 audience.

"Melvin brings a laid-back, smooth sophisticated style to the station," Jesse Fax, WHUR program manager, said.

On nightly from 7 until midnight, the show is a reflection of Lindsey's moods and musical tastes. If he's brokenhearted, "I'm going to make all of Washington cry," he says. If he's happy, D.C. will smile with him.

"When I first started, I was somewhat nervous and scared," he says. "The program developed out of that shyness. I was afraid to talk.

"Then the third weekend, I got a letter from Lorton (Reformatory) signed by 196 inmates, saying how much they liked the program. It really touched me."

But, at 24, Melvin Lindsey says he is changing. He is making it a point to act as slick as other radio personalities, and he is exchanging some of his shyness for a subtle stylishness.

As the urging of friends, he traded in his "tacky (Ford) Capri" for a 1979 luxury model Audi.

He trimmed his hair. Got contact lenses. Signed a three-year contract with WHUR. Enrolled in a master's degree program in business administration at George Washington University. Matured a little. And, he says, aged prematurely.

Occasionally Lindsey alludes to a brief stint two years ago as a promotion assistant at NBC. It was a score point in his career.

"They weren't using my talents," he says. "I felt I was selling an unsuitable product to the public."

At the time, he said, "WKYS was hot," while WHUR was aiming primarily at the Howard University jazz crowd. Lindsey said he sensed a snobbishness at WKYS, an attitude that the people at WHUR "don't know what they're doing."

Lindsey returned to the station with a vengeance. "My goal was to make everyone listen to the "Quiet Storm." At that time WHUR was programming to the talented tenth at Howard. But, hey, you have a Northeast, a Southeast and a Southwest, too.

"I like to think I'm a real person. I'm struggling to pay my rent like everyone else. My biggest critics and the people I look to for programming are the people in the street."

As a result of their guidance, he says, "the radio industry is virtually ours in this city.

"And KYS," he laughs, "is over there trying to make it work.

"I'm competitive," Lindsey acknowledges. "I'm quietly aggressive. I know what I want and I usually know how to go about getting it."