Omaha Native and Prominate Radio Station Owner Will Receive Honorary Degree from Creighton
Omaha native Catherine L. Hughes will close the chapter on her education from Creighton University when she receives a honorary degree in the humanities during Creighton’s spring commencement at 9:30 a.m. May 13 at the Omaha Civic Auditorium.
Hughes is the founder and chairperson of the Washington-based Radio One, Inc. Her passion for radio began in Omaha when she was a child and developed as she grew older. While growing up, she was heavily influenced by her parents. Her father was the first African-American to earn an accounting degree from Creighton and with great effort became one of Omaha’s only black accountants.
Creighton Jesuit the Rev. John Markoe also played a large role in her family. Loaning money to her mother for nursing school, he had Hughes participating in civil rights marches when she was 5 and sponsored her to attend Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, where she became the first black graduate.
During the late 1960s, Hughes took liberal arts courses at Creighton and Omaha University. She left when she began volunteering at the newly formed radio station KOWH. In the early 1970s, she was offered a job as a lecturer at Howard University’s School of Communications where she volunteered at the university’s radio station, WHUR. While there she developed a style of programming called The Quiet Storm, which was a late night music-chatter format, which is still dominant today.
After seeing that Hughes had talent, journalist Tony Brown, sent her to Harvard for a broadcast management course and the University of Chicago where she took a programming design seminar. Hughes left to work at KYCB-AM in Washington, D.C. When station WOL-AM in Washington went up for sale, Hughes went out on a limb to buy it and so began her empire of what is now known as Radio One, Inc. Her network of 71 radio stations and one television station is included in virtually every major black market.
In 1995, she became the first woman owner of a No. 1-ranked major market radio station and, in 2006, Black Enterprise Magazine named her one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in business. With all of her success, Hughes still manages to return to Omaha to visit her mother.