April 22, 2022
Photo by: TV One
When you think of leaders in the business and entertainment/broadcast industries, Ms. Catherine Liggins Hughes is certainly at the top of the list.
Ms. Hughes is a change-maker and deserves every flower. She is the epitome of broadcast and entertainment.
Cathy Hughes was born on April 22, 1947, in Omaha, Nebraska. Her first job in radio was with KOWH, a black radio station in Omaha, where she started not only her career but catapulted her empire.
In 1971, the Howard University School of Communications offered her a post as a lecturer and Assistant to the Dean of Communications because of her achievements at KOWH. She was General Sales Manager at WHUR, Howard University Radio during her time there, and in her first year, she increased the station’s income from $250,000 to $3 million.
Not only did Ms. Hughes’ success grew relatively quickly, but so did her empire.
She made history as the first female Vice President and General Manager of a radio station in Washington D.C. She pioneered the “Quiet Storm” format, which transformed urban radio and was broadcast on over 480 stations across the country.
The “Quiet Storm” format was named after Smokey Robinson’s 1975 album A Quiet Storm, which featured the song “A Quiet Storm.” The groundbreaking radio format comprised a seductive talking style accompanied by smooth, romantic jazz-influenced R&B music.
1980 was a pivotal year for Ms. Hughes, as she sought to own her radio station. She bought WOL-AM, a minor Washington, D.C. radio station, and thus renowned Radio One was formed.
This major event in her career led Ms. Hughes to create yet another groundbreaking format: “24-Hour Talk from a Black Perspective.” She hosted the station’s morning show for 11 years, with the theme “Information is Power.”
After becoming her radio station owner, Ms. Hughes made history again.
She became the first African-American woman to chair a publicly held corporation in 1999, after the public sale of more than seven million shares of common stock.
Ms. Hughes’ dynasty didn’t stop at this accomplishment and milestone in her career.
She expanded what was then Radio One into a multi-media corporation with more than 60 stations around the country, including hip hop, R&B, gospel, and discussion radio formats, with the help of her son and business partner Alfred Liggins, III.
Hughes became the first woman to own a radio station ranked number one in a large market. It became the first African-American firm in radio history to dominate many significant markets simultaneously.
This has created more opportunities for African-Americans in the radio broadcasting and television industries.
Her contributions have led her to be showered with awards and recognition. Some of her accolades include her Seventh Congressional District Humanitarian Award for her selfless act of uplifting the African-American community, her 2005 Business Trailblazer Award, The Madam C.J. Walker Award for Entrepreneurship award, and lastly, her NAB Lifetime Achievement Award 2019 Hall of Fame Inductee award.
The name of Radio One was changed to Urban One in May 2017 to reflect the market it serves.
TV One is the country’s largest African-American-owned cable television network, and the current home of the hit shows Unsung and Uncensored. Reach Media produces syndicated radio shows like the Rickey Smiley Morning Show and the Tom Joyner Morning Show; iOne Digital, the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, and the Tom Joyner Morning Show; iOne Digital owns several popular websites like Hello Beautiful and Cassius.
And One Solution is a marketing firm that allows advertisers to target specific demographics.
Ms. Catherine Hughes is an absolute icon, and TV One thanks her for ALL of her extraordinary contributions!
Join us as we say Happy birthday, Ms. Hughes.