Trailblazing media pioneer Cathy Hughes has used her ventures as vessels to uplift, empower and inform the Black community through storytelling; ensuring individuals who have historically been marginalized feel seen and heard. The visionary behind the country’s largest Black-owned and operated broadcast company, Urban One, Inc., will be celebrated by the Black Music and Entertainment Walk of Fame for her pivotal contributions.
Black Music and Entertainment Walk of Fame—an organization cultivated by the Black American Music Association and the Georgia Entertainment Caucus to amplify the transformative work of influential innovators who have shaped Black culture—will induct Hughes into the Crown Jewel of Excellence Black Music Month Class of 2022 on Saturday.
The Black experience isn’t monolithic, and the Nebraska native has used the platforms she’s worked on and created to highlight diverse perspectives and generate content in which people across the diaspora could see themselves reflected. She launched her career in media at the Black-owned Omaha-based KOWH(AM).
In 1971, Hughes relocated to Washington, D.C. to serve as a lecturer at Howard University’s School of Communications. While working as the General Sales Manager at Howard University Radio, she exponentially increased the media platform’s revenue. She later went on to become the first woman to serve as Vice President and General Manager of a station in Washington, D.C. In 1980, she acquired her own station dubbed WOL-AM, where the media maven tapped into the power of innovation to introduce different radio formats that resonated with listeners.
Hughes became the first Black woman to chair a publicly held corporation in 1999 and became the first woman to own a radio station ranked number one in a major market. Radio One is led by her son Alfred C. Liggins III. In 2004, she expanded her company into the realm of television with TV One and launched iOne Digital three years later.
As she’s risen to prominence in the media industry, she’s lifted others by ensuring diverse creatives have a seat at the table. Her efforts have inspired generations of creators to use their work as an avenue for change. “My whole goal in life has been to get pertinent information to my community that they can use to uplift and improve the quality of their lives and their lifestyle,” Hughes shared in a past interview.
Other inductees include Duke Ellington, Robert F. Smith, Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, T.D. Jakes and RUN DMC. “With a national and international appeal, the BMEWOF will acknowledge, preserve, respect, and inspire the Black creative community for generations to come,” read a statement from BMEWOF.
Hughes’ induction comes two years after she was honored by Congress.