April 29, 2023 – Cathy Hughes and Alfred Liggins III, Examples of Black Excellence

Cathy Hughes is the Founder and Chairperson of Urban One, formerly known as Radio One; the company is the largest African American owned and operated broadcast company. Radio One is the parent corporation of TV One, home of hit shows such as “UnSung,” “NewsOne Now,” “R&B Divas,” “Reach Media,” “The Rickey Smiley Morning Show,” “Interactive One” and popular websites including The Daily Grind, Hello Beautiful and One solution.

Ms. Hughes began her career in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, at KOWH, a Black radio station. She moved to Washington, DC and was named general sales manager for WHUR-FM.  She quickly raised their annual sales revenues from $300,000 to $3.5 million.  In 1978, she moved to WYCB. 

When she and her husband, Dewey Hughes, decided they wanted to buy their own radio station, they were turned down by 32 bankers. When they found a lender, they bought WOL, a small AM radio station in Washington, DC (the radio station over which “Law Talk With Ethel Mitchell” broadcasts).  Radio One now owns 65 radio stations including stations in every major market in the country.

At one point, Ms. Hughes faced financial difficulty and lost her home.  She moved with her young son to live at the station.  She changed the radio format from being an R&B station to a 24-hour talk format with the theme “Information is Power.” WOL is still the most listened to talk radio station in the nation’s capitol.

Ms. Hughes grandfather, Laurence Jones, survived a lynching and founded Piney Woods School in Mississippi. Her mother was a trombonist with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. 

Ms. Hughes has received many awards.  Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communication trains media communication professionals in advertising, audio production, journalism, media management and public relations.

Her son, Alfred Liggins, III, attended night school at the University of the District of Columbia and worked in the sales department at WOL.  From 1986 to 1994, Liggins worked in the sales department and urged the family to purchase FM stations in Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland.  In 1995, he took over as president and Chief Executive Officer of Radio One. In 1995, he earned his Masters of Business Administration degree from the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. 

In 1999, Ms. Hughes became the first Black woman founder to take a company public.  In 2000, Radio One purchased twenty-one radio stations from Clear Channel.  In 2004, Liggins expanded Radio One’s media sphere when he launched TV One, a cable network for African American adults.  In 2021, revenues reached $441 million.

150 150 Ethel Mitchell

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