As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built overnight, and the same holds resoundingly true for Urban One, Inc.
Monday marks the 42nd anniversary of when Hughes founded Radio One, a project of her own passions that she turned into one of the top Black-owned businesses in the United States.
From its humble beginnings as a broadcast radio-only business model to not only owning dozens and dozens of radio stations around the country but also making triumphant expansions into television and the internet, Radio One’s ultimate transformation into Urban One is nothing short of remarkable. Not only from a business standpoint but also from one that is cultural, as the umbrella company’s successful media outlets reach a stunning number of Black households — more than 80% of Black households, to be sure.
From TV One to Radio One to Reach Media to One Solution iOne Digital — the company’s digital arm that serves as home to NewsOne and other popular websites with widespread name recognition such as Bossip, MadameNoire and Global Grind — Urban One’s evolution from its humble beginnings in 1980 is an inimitable accomplishment in Black-owned media, and in Black business ownership in general.
1980 was the year that Hughes used her own money to buy Washington, D.C.-based WOL — an AM radio station — for $900,000, with the help of a Black-owned venture capital fund and other local investors. Hughes famously appealed to numerous financial institutions until finally being granted a loan on her 33rd attempt.
The rest is quite literally history — Black history, to be exact.
In that time span since Radio One first bought WOL, the company and its leadership — highlighted by Hughes and CEO Alfred C. Liggins III, her son — have amassed an impressive array of accolades for their significant contributions to pushing the culture forward.
Most recently, Hughes was inducted into the Black Music and Entertainment Walk of Fame in part for using 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.
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. That led to buying WOL, where the media maven tapped into the power of innovation to introduce different radio formats that resonated with listeners.
By doing so, 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. In 2004, Hughes 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 previously said.
The post Cathy Hughes Founded Radio One On This Day In 1980 appeared first on NewsOne.