Kentucky Radio Host Reaches Out to Unemployed

Louisville, Ky., radio host devotes part of her show to helping unemployed.

April 11, 2009 — -- As the number of Americans out of work and filing for unemployment benefits continues to rise, jobseekers in Kentucky are getting some unorthodox help.

Radio host Francene Cucinello has added something new to her morning drive show in Louisville, Ky. Three months ago she started devoting an hour each Friday to helping people find jobs, and helping employers fill vacancies.

"The people who are laid off today have not been out of a job for 10, 15 years," Cucinello said. "They don't know where to start to look for new jobs."

It's no surprise the ads have spurred people to call in. The unemployment rate in Louisville now stands at 10 percent, almost twice what it was a year ago. In that time, 18,000 jobs have disappeared.

Jane Polsky, manager of Stephens Drugs in Louisville, called the Francene Show when she had an opening.

"It was a free way to advertise. In this economy, any kind of free way, we like," Polsky said.

Pitching the job over the airwaves, Polsky made it clear she needed someone with training in medical devices. Elizabeth Mossbarger showed up two hours later.

A depressed Mossbarger had been searching for a job for six months. Now, she's excited to get up in the morning and go to her new job.

"I have something to go to and do," she said. "I feel better about myself. It really has been a big self-esteem booster."

Reaching Thousands Over the Radio

The idea of reaching a massive audience for free is what attracted Jeff Pate. Pate and his wife Rita own Practical Care & Elder Care Solutions. The Louisville-based business helps the elderly stay in their homes by providing services such as cooking, cleaning and bathing.

Pate called into Cucinello's show, and the response was immediate. "The next thing you know we're all running for phones to answer the rings."

One of the callers was Susan Ridling. Out of work for eight months, Ridling had reached a dead end in her job search. She just happened to be listening when she decided to take a chance.

"I called in. I thought maybe that would be a good job for me."

Within days, Ridling was on the job, and her self-confidence was on the mend.

"I feel much better about myself," she said. "When I'm taking care of these people I feel like I'm doing a great job at it."

Radio Want Ads Spread to Other Stations

Back at the radio station, the effort to match up potential employees and employers continues. The phones at Cucinello's show constantly ring with people looking for skilled and unskilled workers.

Cucinello says at least 30 people have found jobs through her radio want ads, and a dozen radio stations across the country are now doing the same thing.

"It's a tiny little bit of economic stimulation that you can hear on the radio," she said.

The response to Cucinello's radio want ads has transcended the airwaves. The station has started posting help wanted ads on its Web site and has hosted job fairs.

Cucinello may not be changing the world, but she is helping a few of her listeners get their lives back on track.