Disc jockey June Tucker was working the phones Thursday at radio station WINV when a man called with an unusual request.
He was upset over the recent death of his brother, and because he had lost his job recently, he couldn't afford the funeral expenses. "He asked if he could get donations for a grave," said Tucker. "We put it on the air, and someone called him to donate a grave site."
Chalk up another success story for WINV's Trading Post.
For people who need help or want to buy, sell, trade or simply get rid of something in the garage, the Trading Post is available.
From 9 to 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, between country and western songs on the station at 1560 on the AM band, Tucker runs the free listener service feature. She offers and receives folksy advice and chats with callers who are trying to unload everything from pianos and jukeboxes to roller skates and sewing machines.
"It's kind of like a home shopping network on radio," Tucker said. "Folks call in to let us know about their yard sales, and we end up talking about their plans for the weekend."
Jerry Webb, part owner and station manager, said the show has been on the air under names such as Radio Trader and Tradio for 25 years.
"In Citrus County the papers have classified sections, but on the radio we don't charge for calls," he said.
"We do have a classified service for $5 per week for those who want their information read, but we would rather have the interaction on the air."
Tucker said the trend in recent months has been toward swapping items, like the woman who called in Friday offering to trade a truck with a camper for a travel trailer.
"People seem to be trading more, but that is also a seasonal thing," she said. "Snowbirds don't want to swap but to sell things they don't want to take back north. The type of deal depends on the season."
The show also has information spots with experts who give advice to callers. On Tuesdays, Tim Johnston from the County Extension Service answers horticultural questions. "People call to ask if it's time to cut back their roses and how to get rid of sandspurs," Tucker said.
Other features have included a psychic, insurance information, an astrologer and a show about septic tanks.
"You'd be surprised how many people are concerned about their septic tanks," Tucker said. "If something goes wrong, you can have a lot of problems."
Sometimes a simple opinion call from a listener can turn into a marathon of calls and putting people in touch with one another. A lady phoned to warn about cuts in Medicaid benefits, and Tucker suspected there was more to the call.
"I could tell she was upset and asked her about it, and she admitted she was concerned that she would lose her benefits and even her wheelchair," Tucker said.
The woman didn't leave her name or number, but Tucker made a call to a doctor's office and was put in touch with health care workers who said they could help.
Tucker returned to the air and told the woman to call the station. She did, and after meeting with the health care worker, ended up receiving more benefits than before. She also kept her wheelchair.
Webb said the program was taken off the air for one week in late 1989, and the response was overwhelming for it to return. He put it back on and opened the format in 1991 to allow people to express their opinions.
Webb said the program will be a permanent fixture at the station.
"If folks want to call to chat or trade or if they need help, they are welcome to do so between nine and 11 am, Monday through Friday," he said. The number is 726-1560.