“I stand in lockstep as a sisterhood sharing the challenges of being women in a male-dominated industry and a society that is still grappling with providing equity and equality to women and to minorities,” Hughes said.
On Monday, Urban One founder and chairwoman Cathy Hughes was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcasting Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.
“I stand in lockstep as a sisterhood sharing the challenges of being women in a male-dominated industry and a society that is still grappling with providing equity and equality to women and to minorities,” she said during her acceptance speech.
She is the first Black woman, and one of the few women inducted.
Hughes has had several firsts in her career, including being the first Black woman to become Vice President and general manager of a station in Washington D.C. in 1975, creating the “Quiet Storm” format, and the first Black woman to chair a publicly held corporation in 1999, Radio One (now Urban One). That company became the first in radio history to dominate multiple markets simultaneously, and she was the first woman to own a radio station ranked number one.
But she doesn’t forget the industry has not always accepted women, Black women especially:
Hughes has also been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Washington Area Broadcasters Association and The Seventh Congressional District Humanitarian Award. When honored with a Women Who Mean Business Award in 2016, Hughes said, “Radio can give you an immediate response. If someone needs help, you can get that message out immediately”
“Cathy Hughes is a truly remarkable broadcaster and entrepreneur whose contributions continue to greatly influence and drive our industry,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “We look forward to honoring Cathy with this well-deserved award at this year’s NAB Show.”
— Dennis Wharton (@AirWharton) April 9, 2019
During her NAB Hall of Fame acceptance speech on Monday, the Urban One founder’s poor roots was something she acknowledged along with the village that she credits with lifting her to one of the most powerful positions in radio and media held by a Black woman.
“I am acutely aware of the significance of this moment, not just for me, but for countless women that I represent. As I become the first African American woman inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame in the category of radio, I acknowledge that I do not stand here alone, but I am elevated high on the shoulders of those who have come before me.” She added, “All of my life, I have been surrounded by prayers, support, love, commitments and the efforts of my village. I am the product of many whose lives have touched mine.”
Those shoulders included women like deejays, such as “Chattie” Hattie Leeper, Novella “Dizzy Lizzy” Smith, Vy Higginsen and Martha Jean “The Queen” Steinberg.
She thanked her son, Alfred Liggins III, who now runs the company, for over 40 years of working in partnership.
“I do want you to know that I have loved every day working with you at my side—because I was motivated to succeed because of my love for you.”
The company has over 60 broadcast stations across the country including hip-hop, R&B, gospel, and talk radio formats. Urban One, Inc. also owns TV One.
Other Hall of Fame inductees, Wendy McMahon, President of ABC-Owned Television Stations and FOX NFL SUNDAY.