UpwardAction Salutes Cathy Hughes
Media Mogul, Cathy Hughes was born in 1947 to Helen Jones, a trombonist and her father Alfred Woods. She grew up with her family in the Logan Fontenelle Housing projects in Omaha, Nebraska – where her father worked while studying for an accounting degree at Creighton University. He proudly became the first African-American to earn that degree at the university, setting an example for his family and the stage for his entrepreneurial daughter.
Cathy Hughes is responsible for building the largest African-American owned and operated broadcast company in the U.S. and becoming the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded company. Her company, Radio One, has more than 50 stations in more than a dozen urban markets. In 2012, her revenues were projected to exceed 400 million dollars.
As you got a glimpse in the opening sentences of this tribute, Ms. Hughes did not begin life with a silver spoon. In fact, to the dismay of her parents and friends, she got pregnant at age 16. Her mother kicked her out of the house; her friends said her life was over; and she said that she “was in shock.” Ms. Hughes, however, did not let pregnancy stop her. In fact, she told the Huffington Post
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.
In the late 70s, she married and was working her way up at the Howard University radio station. In 1979, Ms. Hughes was presented with the opportunity to buy a radio station with her then husband. They separated within a year and the business tumbled. After the divorce, Ms. Hughes lost her home but refused to give up her company. She was so determined to win that she slept on the floor of the radio station, with her son in tow, until she’d finally turned the radio station around. This journey took nearly 7 years.
Ms. Hughes has a passion for telling the positive stories of African Americans and has built a business that helps her accomplish this goal.
“Whether it’s this season, next season, or the fifty seasons that are ahead of us, we are interested in the portrayal of black people from a black perspective. There is enough negative news out there in the mainstream media. We’re interested in the positive side of being African-American.”
Continuing the Legacy
Radio One is a family affair. After decades of successful leadership, Ms. Hughes has turned over the reins of managing Radio One to her only son, Alfred Liggins. As CEO he has expanded the company into television, with TV One, and online ventures.
You can learn more about this African American business giant at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/17/catherine-hughes-radio-one_n_1798129.html