Her entire career she has successfully broken down barriers of women, especially Black women, in the radio industry. Now, Urban One, Inc. Founder and Chairperson, Cathy Hughes, officially made history on Monday, April 8 when she became the first African-American woman to be inducted into the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Broadcasting Hall of Fame in the radio category.
Hughes has successfully grown Urban One, formerly known as Radio One, into the largest African-American owned, diversified media corporation in the nation. The company is an urban market leader with 59 broadcast stations across the country. This distinction made Hughes the first woman to own a radio station that was ranked number one in a major market.
Urban One, Inc. also owns TV One, a television network serving more than 60 million households, and maintains controlling interest in Reach Media, Inc. (blackamericaweb.com), which provides several syndicated programs, including the “Tom Joyner Morning Show.” The company also provides social content, news, information and entertainment through its digital platform, iOne Digital, which includes websites like our own, Bossip, HelloBeautiful, and more. Urban One maximizes its reach to more than 80 percent of the African-American market by offering cross-platform marketing opportunities with its marketing firm, One Solution.
Hughes began her career in radio broadcasting in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, at local radio station KOWH-AM. From there, she went on to become a lecturer at the School of Communications at Howard University in 1971. Her tenure there was a rousing success while acting as the general sales manager for Howard University Radio she increased revenue from $250,000 to $3 million in just her first year.
The milestones for Hughes continued. She was the first woman vice president and general manager of a station in Washington, D.C. and created the legendary radio format known as the “Quiet Storm,” which revolutionized urban radio forever and was aired on over 480 stations nationwide. The decade of the ’80s saw Hughes purchase her flagship station WOL-AM in D.C. in 1980, where she pioneered the innovative format known as “24-Hour Talk From a Black Perspective.”
Speaking of Hughes’ legacy, NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith had this to say of her well-deserved induction:
“Cathy Hughes is a truly remarkable broadcaster and entrepreneur whose contributions continue to greatly influence and drive our industry. We look forward to honoring Cathy with this well-deserved award at this year’s NAB Show.”
Today, Hughes continues her family’s work and legacy at The Piney Woods School in Mississippi, which was established by her grandfather in 1909. The school is the largest of only four African-American boarding schools in the country. She also advocates on behalf of the homeless and minority communities, in addition to mentoring countless women. Urban One, Inc. is currently run by Hughes’ son, Alfred Liggins III.
We salute our Founder and Chairperson, Cathy Hughes, on her induction into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor!