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Tue, 04.22.1947

Cathy Hughes, Media Entrepreneur born

Cathy Hughees

*Cathy Hughes was born on this date in 1947.  She is a Black entrepreneur, radio and television personality and business executive.  

Born Catherine Elizabeth Woods to Helen Jones Woods and William Alfred Woods.  Her mother Helen Woods, was a trombonist with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm and her father was the first Black to earn an accounting degree from Creighton University. The family lived in the Logan Fontenelle Housing Projects while Hughes' father attended college.  Hughes was far from an only child, growing up with a household of siblings.

She found her love for music at a very young age, while repeatedly each night lying in bed listening to Everly Brothers and the Platters.  In the early life of Cathy Hughes, things were not easy for her because her parents did not have much money. At this young vital age, she struggled to feed. In fact, she lied about her age to get her first job at the age of 14 years of age. 

Hughes went to the University of Nebraska Omaha and Creighton University taking Business Administration courses but was not able to complete and receive a degree.  She got pregnant when she was sixteen and her mom threw her out of her house.  Hughes worked for the Omaha Star and at KOWH in Omaha, but left for Washington, D.C.  Hughes was married to Alfred Liggins Jr from 1965 to 1967. Together they had one child, Alfred Liggins III.  She was offered a job as an administrative assistant with Tony Brown 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.  She married Dewey Hughes in 1979 and they divorced in 1987. They had no children together.   During her marriage in 1979/1980 Hughes and then-husband Dewey founded Radio One in Washington, D.C. After the previous employees had destroyed the facility, she faced financial difficulties. Her fortunes began to change when she revamped the 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.  In 1987, Hughes bought radio station WMMJ with her company Radio One (now Urban One).  

In 1988, she was the first woman awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the twelfth annual ceremony.  In 1995, Radio One bought radio station WKYS.  Hughes was granted an honorary doctorate from Sojourner Douglass College in Baltimore in 1995. That accomplishment drove Hughes back to school 2 years later.  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 under the NASDAQ stock exchange.  Jumping to the year 2000, she was awarded the First Annual Black History Hall of Fame Award. Following that she was presented the National Action Network’s "Keepers of the Dream" award, which is an award that spotlights role models who contribute to and honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy.  

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.  As of 2007, Hughes's son serves as CEO and president of Radio One, and Hughes as chairperson. Hughes is also a minority owner of BET industries. 

Hughes is a 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". In 2016, Hughes was inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.  She is also a member of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s Business Hall of Fame.  Radio One is number nine on BET 100, with a net worth of $450.8 million for 2015.  

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