Cathy Hughes is the founder and Chairperson of Radio One, Inc., the largest African-American owned and operated broadcast-company in the nation. Radio One is the parent corporation of TV One, a partnership with Comcast, and Reach Media, the home of the Tom Joyner morning show, Rev. Al Sharpton, Yolanda Adams, Russ Parr, Rickey Smiley and James Fortune, as well as Interactive One, home of Black Planet, NewsOne and Hello Beautiful. Radio One is also the first African-American company in radio history to dominate several major markets simultaneously and possesses the first woman-owned radio station to rank #1 in any major market.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, she moved to Washington, D.C. in 1971, and became a lecturer in the newly established School of Communications at Howard University. She entered radio in 1973, as the General Sales Manager at WHUR, Howard University Radio, and increased 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. Purchasing her first station in 1980, WOL-AM (D.C.), Hughes pioneered yet another innovative format --“24 hour Talk from a Black Perspective.” With the theme, “Information is Power,” Hughes served as the station’s Morning Show Host for 11 years. WOL is still the most listened to talk radio station in the nation’s capital. Hughes’ dedication to minority communities, entrepreneurial spirit, and mentoring of women are manifested in every aspect of her work and life. As such, she was honored with the NAACP Chairman’s Award, the Uncommon Height of Excellence Award, the Giant of Broadcasting Award, Ida B. Wells Living Legacy Award and the Congressional Black Caucus’ Phoenix Award.
Radio One is now a public company, making Hughes the first African-American woman to chair a publicly held corporation. As Radio One continues to expand its media presence, the foundation remains based on the spirit of family and commitment to the community.