Catherine Elizabeth Woods
April 22, 1947
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
|Occupation||Entrepreneur, radio and television personality|
Alfred Liggins Jr.
(m. 1965; div. 1967)
(m. 1979; div. 1987)
|Children||Alfred Liggins III|
|Parent(s)||Helen Jones Woods (Mother), Williams Alfred Woods (Father)|
Catherine Liggins Hughes (born Catherine Elizabeth Woods; April 22, 1947) is an American entrepreneur, radio and television personality and business executive. Hughes founded the media company Radio One (now known as Urban One), and when the company went public in 1999, she became the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded corporation. In the 1970s, Hughes created the urban radio format called "The Quiet Storm" on Howard University's radio station WHUR with disc jockey and fellow Howard student Melvin Lindsey.
Cathy Hughes was born to Helen Jones Woods, a trombonist with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm at Piney Woods School, a private boarding school in Mississippi, and William Alfred Woods, who was the first African-American to earn an accounting degree from Creighton University. The family lived in the Logan Fontenelle Housing Projects while Hughes' father attended college. Hughes was far from an only child, growing up with a household of siblings. She found her love for music at a very young age, while repeatedly each night lying in bed listening to Everly Brothers and the Platters. In the early life of Cathy Hughes, things were not easy for her because her parents did not have much money. At this young vital age she struggled to feed. In fact, she lied about her age to get her first job at the age of 14 years of age.
Hughes went to the University of Nebraska Omaha and Creighton University taking Business Administration courses, her fathers alma mater, but was not able to complete and receive a degree, which led to her getting a job as a sales manager at Howard University's radio station, WHUR-FM.
Before radio, in the mid-1960s, Hughes worked for an African American newspaper called the Omaha Star. Hughes began her career in 1969 at KOWH in Omaha, but left for Washington, D.C. after she was offered a job as an administrative assistant with Tony Brown at the School of Communications at Howard University. In 1973, she became General Sales Manager of the university's radio station, WHUR-FM, increasing station revenue from $250,000 to $3 million in her first year. In 1975, Hughes became the first woman Vice President and General Manager of a station in the nation's capital and created the format known as the "Quiet Storm," which revolutionized urban radio and was aired on over 480 stations nationwide.
During her marriage with Dewey Hughes in 1979, they set out to purchase a radio station. Successfully finding a lender after being denied thirty-two times by banks, in 1980 Hughes and then-husband Dewey founded Radio One, subsequently buying AM radio station WOL 1450 in Washington, D.C. After the previous employees had destroyed the facility, she faced financial difficulties and subsequently lost her home and moved with her young son to live at the station. Her fortunes began to change when she revamped the R&B station to a 24-hour talk radio format with the theme, "Information is Power." Hughes served as the station's Morning Show Host for 11 years. In 1982 the bank had threatened to cease payments to Hughes investment unless she agreed to airing music. She decided to keep her station as a talking format in the AM and music throughout the day. WOL is still the most-listened-to talk radio station in the nation's capital.
Radio One went on to own 70 radio stations in nine major markets in the U.S. In 1999, Radio One became a publicly traded company, listed under the NASDAQ stock exchange. As of 2007, Hughes's son, Alfred Liggins, III, serves as CEO and president of Radio One, and Hughes as chairperson. Hughes is also a minority owner of BET industries.
In January 2004, Radio One launched TV One, a national cable and satellite television network which bills itself as the "lifestyle and entertainment network for African-American adults." Hughes interviews prominent personalities, usually in the entertainment industry, for the network's talk program TV One on One.
In 2015, a local business organization unofficially named the corner of 4th Street and H Street NE in Washington, D.C. "Cathy Hughes Corner".
Hughes' life story is featured on the documentary series Profiles of African-American Success. In 2016, Hughes was inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.
Hughes was married to Alfred Liggins Jr from 1965 to 1967. Together they had one child, Alfred Liggins III, born January 30, 1965, in Omaha, Nebraska. She got pregnant when she was sixteen and her mom threw her out of her house. Hughes married Dewey Hughes in 1979 and they divorced in 1987. They had no children together. Hughes, Cathy, said that the debt was overwhelming for him. He was never an entrepreneur. She, on the other hand, was focused and knew she could pay back the 1 million dollars they were able to borrow from their "angel" lender. After her divorce and with looming debt, she ended up moving into the station with her son. When asked if it was hard or stressful to deal with she said "No, number one I was in awe of Washington DC. I was in Georgetown. I haven't been able to get back there yet! During my struggling days, I had a prime corner. You would see the president having dinner at one of the restaurants." Even with her determination, her son always came first. He had his first little tuxedo before he was out of grade school because he was her date, she took him everywhere. They would always have dinner together and do his homework. 
Cathy Hughes has titled many awards. Granted an honorary doctorate from Sojourner Douglass College in Baltimore in 1995. That accomplishment drove Hughes back to school 2 years later. In 1988, she was awarded the first woman to receive to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the twelfth annual ceremony. Hughes is also a part of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame. Jumping to the year 2000, She awarded the First Annual Black History Hall of Fame Award. Following that she was presented the National Action Networks "Keepers of the Dream" award, which is an award that spotlights role models who contribute an honor and contribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy.
Radio One is number nine on BET 100, with a net worth of $450.8 million for 2015.