Washington area radio has been suddenly and immeasurably diminished by the loss of half of the on-air staff at WBIG-FM ["At WBIG, An Abrupt Sign-Off; Station Fires Five Of Its On-Air Staff," Style, Sept. 30]. Bowing to the pressures of media marketing demographics and the almighty advertising dollar, Program Director Bill Hess mistakenly linked the "shrinking audience" and "less appealing . . . format" of this station to the on-air personalities who had become like family to regular listeners.

Goldy, Kathy, Ira and Johnny were the reason most of us stayed faithful to the station these past months, as the format became less recognizable, more repetitive and more chaotic.

Perhaps stations could cater more to listener concerns and feedback, and they could build their formats around what listeners want to hear instead of what analysts tell them we want to hear. If advertisers would all stop targeting the same demographic and recognize the vast numbers of consumers in other age groups (who will respond to ads geared to them), we'd have stations worth listening to once again, and advertisers could sell their ads.

In searching for the missing piece of the puzzle, I fear WBIG has alienated its loyal listeners. I'm actually within its targeted age group of 25 to 54, yet these actions have prompted me to do something I have never voluntarily done before: turn off my radio!

CARY CALDWELL

Upper Marlboro