The awe-inspiring rise of Cathy Hughes, 65, the legendary Founder and Chairperson of Radio One (which owns TV One and Interactive One, parent company of NewsOne.com), was highlighted Saturday on Fox News program, “America’s News Headquarters.”
During an installment of “Beyond the Dream,” Hughes was recognized as being a “trailblazer” who entered a new frontier for women of color when she became the first to chair a publicly traded company in the United States.
“I love radio,” Hughes said. “Radio is to me what basketball is to Michael Jordan. He once said that he couldn’t believe that anyone is going to pay him to go to the hoop. I couldn’t believe that anyone was going to pay me to live my dream.
“I’ve wanted to be in radio since I was 8-years-old and my mother bought me a transmitter radio,” the media pioneer continued. “Growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, I was an expert on Willie Nelson, Conway Twitty, all — what they would call them back then — Country & Western music stars. When I got my radio, for the first time, I heard Black disc-jockeys. Well, turns out that Wolfman Jack was not Black because they did not allow Black men on the radio back then.”
Hughes goes on to discuss the experience that instantly transformed her life, causing her to focus as she had never done before:
“I was 16-years-old when I got pregnant with my son,” shares Hughes. “Which is why I say, ‘My biggest accomplishment is, I figured it out.’ He and I were both destined to be statistics.”
Hughes’ son, Alfred Liggins, now 48-years-old, has been with his mother every step of the way and serves as Chief Executive Officer and President of Radio One.
“It was my son’s idea to diversify,” Hughes said in a 2012 interview with Huff Post Small Business. “When he got his MBA from Wharton, he said, ‘We’re not going to be a mom and son operation anymore. We’re going public.’ This all started from being a family, and even as a public corporation, we operate as a family business. Too much of American industry is focused on the bottom line and not enough is focused on the front lines.”
Speaking to “America’s News Headquarters'” co-host and White House correspondent, Kelly Wright, Hughes said that “faith in God, hard work and perseverance” made it possible for her to achieve her goals. But success didn’t happen overnight:
“Thirty-two times I was turned down, until I ran across a woman banker who said, ‘Yes.’ And I kept giving my presentation and she said, ‘Don’t sell past the close; I’m going to give you a million dollars.’ I couldn’t believe it.
Though Hughes has been wildly successful by even the most conservative estimates, she’s far from finished building her empire:
We reach 82 percent of all of Black America each and every week; I want to reach 100 percent,” Hughes said with a determined twinkle in her eyes. “I want to be to the Black experience what Univision is to the Hispanic/Latino experience.
With her indomitable spirit, and son Alfred by her side, we have no doubt that Cathy Hughes will accomplish just that.