When Cathy Hughes got pregnant at age 16, her friends said her life was over. Her mother kicked her out of the house. Hughes said she “was in shock.”
But pregnancy “was the beginning,” Hughes said. The birth of her son, Alfred Liggins, as “an impetus to achieve,” Hughes told The Huffington Post. “It was the reason I took my life seriously for the first time as a teenager and made a promise to myself, my son and God that he would not become a black statistic.”
Hughes did end up becoming a statistic: She started the largest African-American owned and operated broadcast company in the U.S. and became the first African-American woman to head a publicly traded company. Her Washington, D.C.-based Radio One has 53 radio stations in 16 urban markets, with projected 2012 revenues of $433 million. As CEO, Liggins has expanded Radio One into TV and online ventures.
Hughes’ rise from teen mom to media mogul didn’t come easily. Working her way up at the Howard University radio station in the 1970s, she had the opportunity in 1979 to buy a radio station with her husband. When they separated within a year, the business tumbled. She lost her home but refused to give up her company. She and her son slept on the floor of the radio station until she finally turned the business around.
HuffPost Small Business talked to Hughes about her passion for radio, growing up poor and what it was like to raise a child without a home.
How did your love of radio start?
When I was 8, my mother gave me a transistor radio for Christmas, and I became obsessed with radio. We were living in the projects in Omaha, Neb., six of us with one bathroom, and I would lock myself in the bathroom and use my toothbrush as a microphone, looking in the mirror, doing the commercials and news. People were always pounding on the door, telling me to get out, but I was preparing for my future life.
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article courtesy of TheHuffingtonPost.com