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Cathy Hughes

Radio maven Cathy Hughes was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1947. Beginning her career in radio in 1969, Hughes’ first position was with KOWH, a black radio station in Omaha. Her successes there prompted the Howard University School of Communications to offer her a position as a lecturer and as Assistant to the Dean of Communications.

In 1973, Hughes was named general sales manager to WHUR-FM in Washington, D.C, and by 1975 was hired as the general manager of the station. Under her guidance, WHUR-FM, which had been struggling along with $300,000 in annual sales revenues, increased its annual revenues to more than $3.5 million. In 1978, Hughes left WHUR for WYCB Radio, where she served as the vice president and general manager of the station.

Hughes and her husband at the time, Dewey Hughes, decided they wanted to buy their own radio station in 1979, and after being rejected by thirty-two banks, they found a lender. With their loan, they purchased WOL, a small Washington, D.C. station and Radio One was born. While Hughes wanted a talk format for the station, the bank was pressing for music. A compromise was reached permitting Hughes to have a morning talk show program that was followed by music programming throughout the day.

Hughes’ marriage ended shortly after purchasing the station and she began her path as a single mother. She purchased her husband’s share in the station, but hard times soon forced she and her son, Alfred, to give up their apartment and move into the station to make ends meet. Over time, however, the station began turning a profit, largely due to the success of her talk show.

Since the early days of being a station owner, Hughes’ rise has been remarkable. Today, Radio One owns 65 radio stations throughout every major market in the country, making the company the largest black-owned radio chain in the nation. In January of 2004, Hughes launched TV One, a cable television channel targeted at the African American community.

Today, Hughes has the distinction of being the first African American woman to head a media company publicly traded on the U.S. Stock Exchange, and she continues to serve as Chairperson of Radio One.

Accession Number

A2004.171

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/21/2004 |and| 3/2/2005

Last Name

Hughes

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Sacred Heart Elementary School

Duchesne Academy Of The Sacred Heart

University of Nebraska-Omaha

Harvard University

University of Chicago

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Cathy

Birth City, State, Country

Omaha

HM ID

HUG04

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Nebraska

Favorite Vacation Destination

Home

Favorite Quote

It Is Not Enough For You To Do Your Very Best. You Must Do What Is Required Of The Situation.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

4/22/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Broadcast chief executive Cathy Hughes (1947 - ) is the founder of Radio One, the nation's largest black-owned radio chain, and TV One, which features programming aimed at African American audiences. Hughes is the first African American woman to head a media company that is publicly traded on the U.S. Stock Exchange.

Employment

Howard University

WHUR Radio

WYCB Radio

WOL Radio

TV One

Favorite Color

Earth Tones

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Slating of Cathy Hughes' interview

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Cathy Hughes lists her favorites

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Cathy Hughes describes her father's family background

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Cathy Hughes describes her father's education and career

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Cathy Hughes recalls her father's accounting practice

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Cathy Hughes recalls moving to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Cathy Hughes describes her paternal grandparents' lives, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Cathy Hughes describes her paternal grandparents' lives, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Cathy Hughes reflects upon the need to preserve African American history

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Cathy Hughes describes her mother's family background

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Cathy Hughes describes her maternal grandfather's education

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Cathy Hughes recalls her maternal grandparents' founding of Piney Woods Country Life School

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Cathy Hughes recalls her mother's estrangement from her grandfather

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Cathy Hughes recalls her maternal grandfather's life and service

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Cathy Hughes recalls her maternal grandfather's appearance on television

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Cathy Hughes recalls her grandfather's interview for Johnson Publishing

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Cathy Hughes recalls dinners at her grandfather's home

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Cathy Hughes describes African American women's sacrifices for their community

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Cathy Hughes describes Piney Woods Country Life School's disciplinary policy

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Cathy Hughes describes her mother's personality

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Cathy Hughes describes her mother's career with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Cathy Hughes recalls her mother's career with the Omaha Symphony

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Cathy Hughes describes her mother's connections in the music industry

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Cathy Hughes recalls her mother's lessons in giving, pt. 1

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Cathy Hughes recalls her mother's lessons in giving, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Cathy Hughes describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Cathy Hughes recalls her mother's community activism

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Cathy Hughes recalls being arrested in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Cathy Hughes recalls growing up in a closely-knit community

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Cathy Hughes recalls her early years living in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Cathy Hughes describes her mother's service with the youth

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Cathy Hughes describes her family's life in the projects in Omaha

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Cathy Hughes remembers moving to Piney Woods, Mississippi

Tape: 13 Story: 9 - Cathy Hughes recalls her schooling in Omaha, Nebraska

Tape: 13 Story: 10 - Cathy Hughes describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Omaha

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Cathy Hughes describes the sights and smells of her childhood

Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Cathy Hughes recalls her rebellious nature as a child

Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Cathy Hughes recalls becoming pregnant as a teenager

Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Cathy Hughes recalls filing for divorce from her first husband

Tape: 14 Story: 5 - Cathy Hughes describes how her son's birth changed her perspective on life

Tape: 14 Story: 6 - Cathy Hughes recalls her independence as a young, single mother

Tape: 14 Story: 7 - Cathy Hughes recalls her decision to relocate to Washington, D.C.

Tape: 14 Story: 8 - Cathy Hughes recalls accepting a position at Howard University's School of Communications

Tape: 15 Story: 1 - Cathy Hughes describes her role as a community activist at Howard University

Tape: 15 Story: 2 - Cathy Hughes recalls her challenges as the general manager of WHUR Radio

Tape: 15 Story: 3 - Cathy Hughes remembers resigning from Howard University

Tape: 15 Story: 4 - Cathy Hughes recalls her innovations in radio programming at Howard University

Tape: 15 Story: 5 - Cathy Hughes recalls how WHUR Radio was licensed to Howard University

Tape: 15 Story: 6 - Cathy Hughes talks about her creativity as a radio programmer

Tape: 15 Story: 7 - Cathy Hughes recalls her early experiences of radio

Tape: 16 Story: 1 - Cathy Hughes recalls her educational opportunities at Howard University's WHUR Radio

Tape: 16 Story: 2 - Cathy Hughes describes her experience at Howard University's WHUR Radio

Tape: 16 Story: 3 - Cathy Hughes describes the segregated community of Washington, D.C.

Tape: 16 Story: 4 - Cathy Hughes describes her experience at WYCB Radio

Tape: 16 Story: 5 - Cathy Hughes recalls the reason for WOL Radio's distress sale

Tape: 16 Story: 6 - Cathy Hughes recalls her bid to purchase WOL Radio with Dewey Hughes

Tape: 16 Story: 7 - Cathy Hughes recalls purchasing WOL Radio in 1979 with the help of Herb Fame

Tape: 16 Story: 8 - Cathy Hughes recalls her first night at the WOL Radio station

Tape: 17 Story: 1 - Cathy Hughes recalls meeting her chaplain, Reverend Mozelle J. Fuller

Tape: 17 Story: 2 - Cathy Hughes recalls her chaplain, Reverend Mozelle J. Fuller

Tape: 17 Story: 3 - Cathy Hughes recalls her business mentor Skip Finley

Tape: 17 Story: 4 - Cathy Hughes recalls her hardships during the early years of owning WOL Radio

Tape: 17 Story: 5 - Cathy Hughes recalls hiring an accountant for WOL Radio

Tape: 17 Story: 6 - Cathy Hughes recalls the first time WOL Radio made a profit

Tape: 17 Story: 7 - Cathy Hughes recalls acquiring her second radio station

Tape: 17 Story: 8 - Cathy Hughes reflects upon her sacrifices to expand Radio One

Tape: 17 Story: 9 - Cathy Hughes reflects upon the success of Radio One and the launch of TV One

Tape: 18 Story: 1 - Cathy Hughes recalls acquiring a second radio station, Majic 102.3

Tape: 18 Story: 2 - Cathy Hughes recalls expanding Radio One into Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 18 Story: 3 - Cathy Hughes recalls purchasing Radio One of Atlanta

Tape: 18 Story: 4 - Cathy Hughes describes Radio One's expansion

Tape: 18 Story: 5 - Cathy Hughes recalls the establishment of TV One

Tape: 18 Story: 6 - Cathy Hughes recalls her son renaming her company Radio One

Tape: 18 Story: 7 - Cathy Hughes recalls her son's education at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School

Tape: 18 Story: 8 - Cathy Hughes recalls the initial public offering of Radio One in 1999

Tape: 18 Story: 9 - Cathy Hughes reflects upon her relationship with her son

Tape: 18 Story: 10 - Cathy Hughes describes securing her first loan for Radio One

Tape: 18 Story: 11 - Cathy Hughes describes her loan payment strategies

Tape: 18 Story: 12 - Cathy Hughes reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 18 Story: 13 - Cathy Hughes reflects upon her hopes for the African American community

DASession

2$2

DATape

15$18

DAStory

4$8

DATitle
Cathy Hughes recalls her innovations in radio programming at Howard University
Cathy Hughes recalls the initial public offering of Radio One in 1999
Transcript
I created for Howard University [Washington, D.C.] a program called the Quiet Storm, a format that almost got me fired. Ultimately, it went on to become the most successful, urban format in the history of black radio. It was on nearly five hundred radio stations at one time. I tried to get Howard University to license that. By now, they would have generated billions, with a B, not millions; billions of dollars in revenue. Radio stations named their whole station the Quiet Storm and did my format 24/7. I then tried to convince Howard to do a black Muzak, which still has not been done to this day. Howard was building a new hospital. And one of my fellow faculty members had been the highest ranking African American and the only African American actually with the Gallup Poll. So he knew how to do polls. He was a black pollster. So we did a poll of four hundred African American professionals, doctors and lawyers and other professionals, real estate agents, insurance executives. We asked them, number one, Leroy [ph.] said to me--that was the gentleman who was the pollster's name, that he had never seen it, 84 return, percent return rate, 84 percent of the four hundred people we polled returned their questionnaires. They were willing at this time, which was how many decades ago, to pay up to hundred and fifty dollars a month for the service. We described it as a black Muzak. Howard University had the equipment. When Katharine Graham, and The Washington Post gave WHUR [WHUR Radio, Washington, D.C.] to Howard University--WHUR, W-Howard University Radio. It had before that been WTOP-FM Radio. When they gave the station to Howard, they gave the equipment for a sub-channel. Muzak is sub channel. Muzak is actually an FM radio station on a sub channel. We had the equipment. All Howard had to do was say yes. They were already wiring the hospital. Every room in the Howard University Hospital [Washington, D.C.] has radio and television already wired in. All I had to do was sit the transmitter in the basement and bring the signal up. So there was no additional cost. All they had to do is say yes. They said no. Here we have a 84 percent respondent rate. We have people saying that they'd be willing to pay Howard up to hundred and fifty dollars a month to have a black Muzak service, because by now, my Quiet Storm was so successful, they knew it would be like the Quiet Storm. But even today, it hasn't been done. How many black professionals in the whole country would love to have a beautiful, black music service being pumped in. Now, Muzak is no longer popular because we got CDs. It kind of got--technology kind of kicked it out the back door. I think it wouldn't have been kicked out the back door as quickly if there had of been a black version of it. I think that white folks would have gussied it up a little bit. Remember, it used to be called elevator music[AB2].$$That's right.$$But they still have different forms of it. It's just called different things. When you go in grocery stores now, you have a version. They even do their own commercials. "You're listening to the Giant Food music network," you know. Now, you have satellite radio. You have so many other things. So, by then I realized that Howard University did not have the level of understanding and appreciation for my innovations and ideas that God was blessing me with that I was sharing with them. And I was not trying to get any--it wasn't for me. I wasn't trying to get anything out of it. It was for them. It would have generated--in hindsight, I now understand. Other than the bookstore, they had never had any type of revenue-generating ventures. They didn't know about being in business, and remember, I said earlier, they were government funded. So they were accustomed to filling out requisitions, sending it to the federal government, getting the money. And they went through a lot of--as any, anybody would, all of a sudden they have hundreds of millions of dollars put in a bank account in their name. They had to establish accounting procedures and, so they really didn't have an understanding, a time or a commitment to the radio station at that time.$Alfred [Hughes' son, HistoryMaker Alfred Liggins, III] then became like a tutor, a mentor, a teacher. He walked me through the entire process, and even when I still had reservations, he did a high-yield bond offering to run a test balloon up, a test run on our management team, because one of my last reservations was, we run real slim and trim, even now. Wall Street likes that, but my managers wear a lot of hats. And I was like, will they be able to withstand the rigors of the reporting required of a public corp--publicly-held corporation which are far greater now with Sarbanes-Oxley [Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002]. But even back then, the rigors were quite strenuous. So he did the high-yield bond offering to test himself and our staff, and they came through with flying colors. May 19th, Martin--Malcolm X's birthday, 1995, we're in New York [New York]. We're going public. And I'm in the bathroom regurgitating as if I were pregnant. That's how nervous I was, because right before our ticker came across the board, one of the Wall Street analysts said to me, "Do you realize that you will be the first corporation in the history of Wall Street headed by an African American female? This has never been done before." And that reaction of me getting sick to my stomach was almost like being pregnant and giving birth. I realized that this was bigger than me and Alfred having growth capital. This was bigger--this was me really lifting the bar for black womanhood, (laughter) you know. I almost wanted to sing, "I am woman," (laughter) you know. I needed an anthem. And it made such an incredible difference. So many of our staff members became millionaires because of the friend--friends and family list. So many of our friends and acquaintances were able to achieve incredible financial success. We opened at twenty-four and went to ninety-two in our first twelve months. We then split, and it was such a glorious time, that first year. Since then, the sector has been so depressed. All radio properties have been undervalued. And particularly when you're last in and you're African American, but we think that that will turn around. We have never missed a projection. Everything we have told Wall Street since day one has been the reality of the operation of my company [Radio One, Lanham, Maryland]. And that's why we're considered the best. We are now the seventh largest broadcasting corporation in America, and we plan to be the sixth, the fifth, the fourth, the third, the second and who knows? We might bump Clear Channel [Clear Channel Communications, Inc.] out of the number one spot before God finishes blessing us.

Ronald Davenport

Businessman and lawyer Ronald Davenport, Sr., was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 21, 1936. After earning his B.S. degree in economics from Pennsylvania State University in 1958, Davenport went to law school; earning his LL.B. degree from Temple University in 1962, he went to Yale Law School for his LL.M. degree in 1963.

Davenport started his career as a professor of law at Duquesne University in 1963, where he remained for twenty years. When he took over as dean of the law school in 1970, Davenport became the first black man to be dean of a predominantly white school. In 1982, Davenport became a partner at Buchanan Ingersoll Professional Corporation, and a fellow of the U.S. State Department, reviewing legal systems in South and East Asia. Davenport also served as a consultant to the Constitutional Convention Preparatory Committee of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention. Not content with simply the practice of law, in 1972, Davenport became chairman of Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation, a group he and his wife formed from the purchase of four radio stations. By 1976, Sheridan Broadcasting owned half of the Mutual Black Network, later completing the buyout. Sheridan Broadcasting was heard through more than three hundred radio affiliates across the country; he also served as the co-chairman of the American Urban Radio Networks.

Beyond his endeavors in the practice of law and broadcasting, Davenport gave his time to a wide variety of other organizations. Davenport served on the board of Colgate University; was chairman of the Visiting Committee of African American Studies at Harvard; and served on the board of Aramark. Davenport was awarded numerous honorary degrees; the Man of the Year Award from the Masons; and participated in several conferences with U.S. presidents.

Davenport and his wife, Judith Marylyn, raised three children.

Accession Number

A2003.182

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/12/2003

Last Name

Davenport

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Spring Garden Elementary School

Stoddart-Fleisher Middle School

West Philadelphia High School

Pennsylvania State University

Temple University Beasley School of Law

Spring Garden School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Ronald

Birth City, State, Country

Philadelphia

HM ID

DAV07

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Interview Description
Birth Date

5/21/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pittsburgh

Country

USA

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Academic administrator and radio station owner Ronald Davenport (1936 - ) is the Chair of Sheridan Broadcasting, heard on over three hundred nationwide stations. Davenport had a career teaching law and has served as the dean for the Duquesne University School of Law.

Employment

Duquesne University School of Law

Buchanan Ingersoll Professional Corporation

Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation

Favorite Color

None

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Ronald Davenport interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Ronald Davenport's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Ronald Davenport talks about his parents' and his grandmother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Ronald Davenport discusses the experience of living with his grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Ronald Davenport describes his childhood personality and his neighborhood

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Ronald Davenport details his education in Philadephia

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Ronald Davenport talks about avoiding the negative influences in his neighborhood as a young boy

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Ronald Davenport recalls his religious upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Ronald Davenport talks about the neighborhood survival skills he developed as a young boy

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Ronald Davenport recounts his grandparents' influence and leadership in his community

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Ronald Davenport details his experiences living with his mother and stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Ronald Davenport talks about his high school experience

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Ronald Davenport discusses briefly his plans to go to college

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Ron Davenport discusses his decision to attend Penn State University

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Ron Davenport describes the small black population at Penn State in 1954

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Ron Davenport recalls adjusting to the small black populace in State College, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Ron Davenport explains his decision to major in economics at Penn State University

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Ron Davenport details his participation in student government at Penn State

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Ron Davenport discusses his participation in the economics department at Penn State

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Ron Davenport talks about the things that influenced him at Penn State

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Ron Davenport talks about his decision to go to law school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Ron Davenport explains his decision to attend Temple University's law school

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Ron Davenport recalls his experiences at Temple Law School

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Ron Davenport compares his undergraduate and graduate attitudes towards education

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Ron Davenport talks about his first jobs while in law school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Ron Davenport describes his experience as a law clerk in the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Ron Davenport talks about his career focus and his drive to become a leader

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Ron Davenport describes his courtship and marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Ron Davenport discusses his mentor and his acceptance to Yale Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Ron Davenport details his coursework at Yale Law School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Ron Davenport talks about his experiences at Norris, Green, Harris and Higginbotham law firm

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Ron Davenport recalls one of the law firm's biggest clients, Father Divine

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Ron Davenport discusses his mentor, Austin Norris

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Ron Davenport discusses civil rights in the Philadelphia area

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Ron Davenport describes becoming a professor at Duquesne University School of Law

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Ron Davenport recalls his teaching experiences at Duquesne University

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Ron Davenport describes his civic involvement in Pittsburgh

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Ron Davenport explains his adjustment to the community in Pittsburgh

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Ron Davenport describes his civic activities in Pittsburgh while teaching at Duquesne University

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Ron Davenport talks about his work for the mayor's office in Pittsburgh

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Ron Davenport describes his leadership roles with the Urban League and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Ron Davenport recalls other aspects of his civil rights activities

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Ron Davenport talks about becoming Dean of Duquesne University's law school

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Ron Davenport explains his career transition from law to radio broadcasting

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Ron Davenport details the origins of his broadcasting company

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Ron Davenport talks about other radio broadcasters and his other business ventures

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Ron Davenport details his expanding radio business

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Ron Davenport recalls his feelings toward becoming a black business owner

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Ron Davenport details the development of the Sheridan Broadcasting Network

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Ron Davenport discusses Sheridan Broadcasting and its affiliates

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Ron Davenport talks about his success at Sheridan Broadcasting

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Ron Davenport discusses his hopes for the future of Sheridan Broadcasting

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Ron Davenport discusses his successes and mistakes in the radio business

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Ron Davenport talks about his children's participation in the broadcasting business

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Ron Davenport considers decision-making opportunities for African Americans

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Ron Davenport considers the future successes of the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Ron Davenport shares his concerns for the black community

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Ron Davenport considers his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Ron Davenport considers how he would like to be remembered