Cathy L. Hughes: Radio One Documentary (2017)
Catherine Liggins Hughes was born on April 22, 1947 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Her father, William Alfred Woods, was an accountant and her mother, Helen Jones Woods, was a member of the all-female jazz band, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.
In addition to a head for numbers and a passion for music, Cathy inherited a legacy of community service from her grandfather, Laurence C. Jones, who founded the Piney Woods Country Life School.
At seventeen, Cathy became pregnant and got married, but soon divorced.
Now a single mother, Cathy shifted her focus to supporting her son, Alfred, and started working for the Omaha Star, a black-owned newspaper published by local businesswoman and civil rights pioneer Mildred Brown.
Cathy attended Creighton University, before landing her first job in radio at black-owned KOWH in Omaha.
She then moved to Washington, D.C. to work for esteemed journalist Tony Brown in Howard University's communications department.
In 1973, Cathy was hired as sales manager for Howard's campus radio station, WHUR-FM.
She quickly rose to vice president and in 1975 became the market's first female general manager.
During this time, Catherine married local television producer, Dewey Hughes, and developed the “Quiet Storm” format that would become synonymous with black radio.
After leaving WHUR-FM, Cathy and her husband decided to buy their own station, but they were turned down thirty-two times before getting approved for a loan.
In 1980, with additional funds from savings, private investors and a black-owned venture capital firm, the Hughes founded Radio One and purchased WOL-AM 1450.
The station's “all talk”, community-oriented programming, however, was a tough sell. Dewey eventually lost interest and they divorced.
Financial issues would force Catherine and Alfred to live at the radio station.
Unable to hire talent, Cathy started hosting her own morning talk show, which became a powerful voice for African-Americans in the nation's capital.
After successfully revamping WOL's format to include music, Ms. Hughes began aggressively purchasing more stations, which earned her the title, “Queen of Radio”.
In 1999, Alfred Liggins III took Radio One public, making Catherine the first black woman to chair a publicly-traded company.
While she has received numerous awards and honors, Ms. Hughes credits God for taking her from “H street to Wall Street.”
At its peak, Radio One owned 70 stations in 22 markets and the cable network, TV One, making it America's largest black-owned-and-operated broadcasting company, with over 1000 employees.