Urban One founder and chairperson Cathy Hughes paid homage to other women and minorities during her Monday evening induction into the National Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcasting Hall of Fame. “I stand in lockstep as a sisterhood sharing the challenges of being women in a male-dominated industry and a society that is still grappling with providing equity and equality to women and to minorities,” she said during her acceptance.
The ceremony took place at the 2019 NAB Show during the Achievement in Broadcasting Dinner at the Encore hotel in Las Vegas. Radio personality Rickey Smiley of “The Rickey Smiley Morning Show” served as host, while the football pre-game show “Fox NFL Sunday” was inducted into the TV Broadcasting Hall of Fame, and the Digital Leadership Award presented to Wendy McMahon, president, ABC Owned Television Stations Group. Last year’s inductee for radio was syndicated radio morning man Elvis Duran.
Taking the stage, Hughes began, “I am acutely aware of the significance of this moment, not just for me, but for countless women that I represent. As I become the first African American woman inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame in the category of radio, I acknowledge that I do not stand here alone, but I am elevated high on the shoulders of those who have come before me.” She added, “All of my life I have been surrounded by prayers, support, love, commitments and the efforts of my village. I am the product of many whose lives have touched mine.”
Radio broadcasting, Hughes said, “provides the significance of working for a cause greater than myself. Countless radio listeners across the years whose names and faces I will never know have supported our stations and championed our causes.” She also noted that “each and every relationship I have been blessed to create across these many years are the thread in my life and career and my accomplishments are unquestionably the results of many.”
Hughes thanked her son, Alfred Liggins III, who now runs the company, calling him her “biggest inspiration,” which drew applause from the audience. “Alfred, I know this NAB Hall of Fame induction would not have been possible if you had decided to play basketball or start a record company like you used to talk about when you were young,” she said. “I thank God that you did not grow any taller than 6 feet and that you fell in love with the communications industry and joined me before you turned 21. Although having you, Alfred, as a partner for nearly 40 years has not always been a picnic, I do want you to know that I have loved every day working with you at my side—because I was motivated to succeed because of my love for you.”
Hughes began her radio career at KOWH-AM in her hometown of Omaha, NE. In 1971, she became a lecturer at the newly established School of Communications at Howard University in Washington, DC. There, she served as general sales manager at WHUR, Howard University Radio, increasing the station’s revenue from $250,000 to $3 million in her first year. She also became the first woman VP/GM of a station in the nation’s capital and created the “Quiet Storm” format, which aired on 480 stations nationwide. In 1980, Hughes purchased her flagship WOL-AM in Washington and pioneered the format known as “24-Hour Talk From a Black Perspective.”
She grew Urban One, formerly Radio One, into the largest African-American owned media corporation in the nation. It owns 59 radio stations in the U.S., TV network TV One, digital platform iOne Digital, marketing firm One Solution, and a controlling interest in syndicator Reach Media.