Cathy Hughes was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1947, and began her radio career in 1969 at KOWH/Omaha. Her early success in Omaha radio led her to Washington, DC, where she took a position at Howard University and became general sales manager of the university station, WHUR-FM.
During her time at WHUR, Hughes was credited with creating the romantic evening radio format known as “Quiet Storm.” The station’s revenues increased by more than $2 million and the station moved from No. 35 to No. 3 in the ratings. Hughes’ passion for radio and her entrepreneurial skills led her to WYCB/Washington DC, which became the country’s first 24-hour gospel station in 1978.
In 1980, Hughes began the Radio One network when she and her then-husband purchased WOL/Washington DC. Hughes transformed the station’s format from music to all-talk, and backed her decision by hosting the station’s morning show. Radio One currently owns more than 50 stations, making it the largest African-American-owned radio company in the United States. In 1999, Radio One went public, making Hughes the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded corporation. In 2004, Hughes launched TV One, a cable television channel aimed at the African-American community, where she hosts the talk show TV One on One.
Cathy Hughes was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2010.