Louisville radio host Francene dies - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Louisville radio host Francene dies

Francene reporter for FOX19 Francene reporter for FOX19

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Francene Cucinello, the popular host of WHAS radio's "Francene Show," has died after suffering a heart attack and aneurysm. She was 43.

 In a statement issued by the hospital Friday, her family said Cucinello suffered a heart attack Monday, followed by a brain aneurysm Wednesday and died at 3:15 p.m. EST Friday.

 She had hosted the show since October 2003 and worked in television in Ohio, Maryland and Tennessee. Her talk show gave her a chance to interview politicians and other newsmakers, and she was not uncomfortable challenging their views.

Afternoon host Terry Meiners said the phone lines were "absolutely blowing up" with people calling to express their sympathy. A public memorial was scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday at Southeast Christian Church.

Gov. Steve Beshear called her "one of Kentucky's most beloved radio personalities" and said she he was saddened by her death. "I considered her a friend, despite her tough questions, and I enjoyed our frequent interviews on her show," Beshear said. "People felt like they knew Francene because she was so open and honest, and her death is a terrible blow to the community. She was savvy, warm, whip-smart and compassionate."

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell said in a statement that he sends his condolences to Cucinello's family friends and WHAS co-workers. "Francene's open debate on a wide-range of political and social issues kept Louisville talking, and that's one of the reasons her show was so popular," McConnell said.

Attorney General Jack Conway said Cucinello "contributed greatly to the public discourse" in Kentucky. "Francene never minced words and frankly, she made me a better public servant," Conway said. "When I was on her show talking about the issues, I knew she and her listeners were holding me accountable," he added.

 A native of New Jersey, Cucinello attended West Virginia University where she had her first job in radio as a disc jockey. In addition to her job at WHAS radio, Cucinello also covered news for WXIX-TV in Cincinnati.

 She had previously worked as a reporter at WBAL-TV in Baltimore and WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tenn.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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