cathy-hughes

Cathy Hughes – Radio One and TV One Founder

Catherine L. Hughes, more commonly known as "Cathy" Hughes is an entrepreneur, radio and television personality, and business executive.

Hughes founded the media company Radio One, and when the company went public in 1999, she became the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded corporation. 

Cathy Hughes was born Catherine Elizabeth Woods on April 22, 1947, to Helen Jones Woods, a trombonist with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and William Alfred Woods, who was the first African-American to earn an accounting degree from Creighton University.

The family lived in the Logan Fontenelle Housing Projects while Hughes' father attended college. Hughes attended University of Nebraska-Omaha and Creighton University, her father's alma mater, but never completed her degree.

Cathy Hughes and her son Alfred Liggins III

Cathy Hughes became pregnant at age 16, her friends said her life was over. Her mother kicked her out of the house. Hughes said she “was in shock.” Pregnancy “was the beginning,” Hughes said. The birth of her son, Alfred Liggins, was “an impetus to achieve,” “It was the reason I took my life seriously for the first time as a teenager and made a promise to myself, my son and God that he would not become a black statistic.”

Cathy Hughes and son Alfred C. Liggins III

In the 1970s, Hughes created the urban radio format called "The Quiet Storm" on Howard University's radio station WHUR with disc jockey and fellow Howard student Melvin Lindsay.

Before radio, in the mid-1960s, Hughes worked for an African American newspaper called the Omaha Star. Hughes began her career in 1969 at KOWH in Omaha but left for Washington, D.C. after she was offered a job as a lecturer at the School of Communications at Howard University. 

In 1973, she became General Sales Manager of the university's radio station, WHUR-FM, increasing station revenue from $250,000 to $3 million in her first year. In 1975, Hughes became the first woman Vice President and General Manager of a station in the nation’s capital and created the format known as the “Quiet Storm,” which revolutionized urban radio and was aired on over 480 stations nationwide.

In 1980, Hughes founded Radio One, and with then-husband, Dewey Hughes, bought AM radio station WOL 1450 in Washington, D.C.  After the previous employees had destroyed the facility, she faced financial difficulties and subsequently lost her home and moved with her young son to live at the station. Her fortunes began to change when she revamped the R&B station to a 24-hour talk radio format with the theme, “Information is Power.” Hughes served as the station's Morning Show Host for 11 years. WOL is still the most listened to talk radio station in the nation’s capital.

Cathy's son Alfred joined the company in 1985 as a salesman and by 1989 Alfred had risen to president. Cathy credits Alfred's leadership and vision as the driving force that took the company public and grew it into the media powerhouse it is today.

Radio One went on to own 70 radio stations in nine major markets in the U.S. In 1999, Radio One became a publicly traded company, listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. As of 2007, Hughes's son, Alfred Liggins, III, serves as CEO and president of Radio One, and Hughes as chairperson. Hughes is also a minority owner of BET industries.

In January 2004, Radio One launched TV One, a national cable and satellite television network which bills itself as the "lifestyle and entertainment network for African-American adults." Hughes interviews prominent personalities, usually in the entertainment industry, for the network's talk program TV One on One.

Both Cathy Hughes and her son, Alfred Liggins have been named Entrepreneur of the Year by the company Ernst & Young. She is a notable member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

In 2015, a local business organization unofficially named the corner of 4th Street and H Street NE in Washington, D.C. “Cathy Hughes Corner”.


Part of the Court.rchp.com 2017 Black History Month Series


Article text republished from Wikipedia.

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