In 1979, Cathy Hughes bought what would be Washington, D.C’s first Black perspective talk radio station. Hughes is featured in the Walker’s Legacy Report Black Women Entrepreneurs: Past and Present Conditions of Black Women’s Entrepreneurship as a modern-day example of success.
Sources from Howard University informed The Hilltop that a potential new building for the School of Communications, which celebrated its 45th Anniversary in early September, will be named after Radio One’s Cathy Hughes. Howard announced a donation made by Hughes’ son, Alfred Higgins, in honor of his mother, in an official statement made on October 6th.
The name change, which will occur formally on Sunday, October 23rd and serve as one of the closing events for Howard’s 2016 Homecoming, comes as no surprise considering Hughes’ success.
Hughes began her career in 1969 at KOWH, a Black radio station in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. In 1973, Howard University offered Hughes a position as a lecturer, which she held until 1975 when she became the general manager of Howard’s on-campus radio station, WHUR-FM. During her time there, the station’s annual revenue increased from $300,000 to $3.5 million. She stayed at Howard until 1979, when she and her then-husband bought WOL, a small radio station in Washington, D.C., which would go on to become the top Black-owned broadcasting company, Radio One (which also recently celebrated their 36th Anniversary). Hughes served as the chief executive officer from 1980 to 1997 and now serves as Chairperson alongside her son, who serves as CEO.
Despite her many accomplishments, including a NAACP Chairman’s Award, Hughes credits her ambition to her son, to whom she was a teen mother. In a 2012 interview with Huffington Post, Hughes describes various managing tactics, specifically focus, that she applied to her business from learning how to be a parent. Shortly after she and her husband separated, her business began to suffer, but she “was determined that my son and I would build a successful business.” Howard University’s President Wayne A.I. Frederick notes Hughes’ “pioneering work in the field of communications” and states that Higgins’ donation “will have a transformational impact on the School’s commitment to serve the communications industry.” Howard intends to use the donation to invest in new technology and equipment for its academic programs.