Monitor music critic Thor Eckert Jr. has been named winner of the 1983 National Headliners Award for ''Consistently Outstanding Special or Feature Column.''
Mr. Eckert was selected for his Wednesday Monitor column ''On Music,'' which covers topics ranging from the quality of performances to the impact that reduced budgets are having on music groups all over the United States.
The prize indicates significant professional recognition, and together with the other winners in this 49th annual -Headliners competition, Eckert will be honored and presented with his award on May 20 and 21 in Atlantic City, N.J.
His counterpart in the ''Consistently Outstanding Magazine Column'' category is Whitney Balliett of the New Yorker. Among the other 1983 National Headliner winners is the Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal, which received ''The Tom Paprocki Memorial Award'' (public service prize) for reporter Joel Brinkley's work ''exposing allegedly lax or nonexistent regulation of incompetent, alcoholic, or malicious physicians in Kentucky.''
The ''Headline investigative reporting award'' went to the team of Gilbert Gaul, Paul Carpenter, and Robert Orenstein of the Pottsville (Pa.) Republican, for an 11-part series on ''a county in fiscal chaos.''