IF YOU'RE OLD enough and local enough to remember when nearly everybody knew the city of Washington by its neighborhood names, you probably also remember a less quaint aspect of life around here in those days: the two worlds of racial segregation. One resident who does remember vividly, and who made it his cherished business to chronicle the goings- on in the less-publicized world of Negro Washington, is R. E. "Ike" Kendrick--man-about-town and publisher of The Capital Spotlight newspaper.

Reminiscing the other evening at a meeting of the oldest largely black communications organization in the country, the Capital Press Club, Mr. Kendrick described his early years as a reporter for a nightclub news sheet that "talked about the waiters and waitresses" and others whose names weren't likely to show up in the social accounts of the dailies. The market for such news proved substantial, which eventually led Mr. Kendrick to establish the Capital Spotlight and, in time, to broaden its coverage to include black civic clubs and minority news of all kinds.

Every Thursday without interruption over the last 27 years, Mr. Kendrick has been keeping his readers abreast of local issues--with reports from neighborhood leaders, columns and editorials, sports items, shopping tips and local news of special interest to black residents.

Last Thursday, which city hall officials had designated as "Ike Kendrick Day," saw the ubiquitous publisher taking poignant note of another notable accomplishment in black communications: the celebration of a year of broadcasting by WHMM- TV/Channel 32, which is the only minority-owned- and-operated public television station in the country.

So what difference does a minority public TV station make? For all viewers, Howard University's Channel 32 has offered informative, detailed and often live coverage of such events as Vernon Jordan's "State of Black America" address; meetings of the Congressional Black Caucus; an international conference on sickle-cell anemia; and the Stevie Wonder March for Martin Luther King. And its expanding daily schedule includes Spanish-language programming and popular news and children's programs carried over the Public Broadcasting Service network.

From the tabloid weekly to the television channel, the contributions of the minority-owned media are valuable community institutions, adding an important dimension to coverage of the many faces of Washington, now more than ever.