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Reversing a downward trend, WKYS-FM (93.9), the pioneering urban contemporary station, moved into the No. 1 position in the Washington area, according to the winter 1985 Arbitron Ratings.

The two ABC-owned music and personality powerhouses, WMAL-AM (630) and WRQX-FM (107.3), logged in at second and third place in the market, according to the survey released this week. WMAL lost some ground, but Q-107 showed an impressive advance, its gain of two solid share points coinciding with its million-dollar catalog giveaway.

WGAY-FM (99.5), Washington's leading beautiful music station, slipped from second to fourth place. WHUR-FM (96.3) and WWDC-FM (101.1) continued to hold on to their audiences and respectable showings as the fifth- and sixth-ranked stations. The winter book, taken between Jan. 3 and March 27, listed the following stations as the leaders among the 12-year-and-older category:

1. WKYS-FM, 8.0

2. WMAL-AM, 7.6

3. WRQX-FM, 7.3

4. WGAY-FM, 7.2

5. WHUR-FM, 6.5

6. WWDC-FM, 5.9

7. WAVA-FM, 4.7

8. WTOP-AM, 4.4

9. WMZQ-FM/AM, 3.7

10. WLTT-FM, 3.5 Passing the Plate

For the next two weeks the local public radio stations will be passing the plate like crazy.

WETA-FM (90.9) begins its drive at 7 tonight with the three Bs -- Bach, Beethoven and Brahms -- then at 10 it's the Beatles. WAMU-FM (88.5) kicks off at noon tomorrow for seven days. WPFW-FM (89.3) started its spring membership drive last week and plans several specials, including a Southern Africa Support Day on Monday.

This is the first time the three stations have had simultaneous drives. And for the first time ever National Public Radio is assisting its member stations by having a staggering array of personalities do pitches over a six-day stretch. The stars will anchor the shows of Campaign '85 from Washington, New York, Los Angeles and London, starting with Dick Cavett, 4 to 5 p.m. Monday from New York. Pearl Bailey anchors next Friday from Washington.

The effort is designed to help the stations meet their goals so they can help eliminate the NPR debt. Among the more than 75 guest hosts are Jean Stapleton, Ed Asner, Robert MacNeil, Steve Allen, Phil Donahue, Ed McMahon, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Mike Farrell, Anne Jackson, Glenda Jackson, Robert Merrill, Tony Randall, Ben Vereen and Henny Youngman. Both WAMU and WETA will carry the celebrities. Radio for Africa

WKYS-FM (93.9) will broadcast "Radio USA for Africa" Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m., featuring live interviews with most of the stars who recorded the "We Are the World" single. Expected to be on the air from the Westwood One company, a radio production house in Los Angeles, are Pat Benatar, Jackson Browne, Lindsey Buckingham, Kim Carnes, Foreigner, Hall and Oates, James Ingram, Quincy Jones, Melissa Manchester, Joni Mitchell, Ray Parker Jr., Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Paul Simon, Rod Stewart and Yoko Ono. Michael Jackson and Diana Ross may not be there, but will provide a taped interview. Songs from the "We are the World" album will also be played. More on Vietnam

Henry Marcotte, the morning news anchor at WWRC-AM (980), will look at the Southeast Asian refugee communities and other Washingtonians affected by the Vietnam war in a five-part series starting Monday at 7 a.m. Anniversary

Bob Chandler, the debonair man in the WGAY-FM (99.5) television ads and the station's operations manager, is celebrating his 20th year with WGAY on Wednesday. He'll be not at his desk, but in London, recording instrumental music for the station and the International Beautiful Music Association. Opposing Viewpoints

Mutual Radio Network this week announced a new offering: "Viewpoint" will feature New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, a Democrat, and former senator Howard Baker, a Republican, delivering political commentary 10 times a month. Mutual is hoping that the two politicians -- billed as "potential 1988 presidential campaign rivals" -- will play up their respective "independent, unpredictable stands" during the 2 1/2-minute spots that begin airing July 15. Other Events

The Small Stars from WKYS-FM (93.9) will be warming up the floor of the Convention Center tonight at 8 before the basketball game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins . . . Bill Trumbull and Chris Core of WMAL-AM (630) are ready to lead the way down M Street Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. with their almost traditional Gross National Parade . . . WPFW is celebrating its eighth anniversary Sunday with a party and concert at Kilimanjaro Heritage Hall from 4 to 9 p.m. . . . WTOP-AM (1500) has signed up "Lasorda at Large," the daily three-minute show by Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. It airs at 6:51 p.m.