Acacia James, Sydney Davenport, Ian Mahon, DaShea Smith NewsVision
Media Mogul holds Candid Conversation with HU Students
Media mogul Cathy Hughes visited Howard University on Tuesday, March 20 to speak to students and faculty about her life and to discuss the role of African-Americans in the media. She spoke at the Inclusive Innovation Incubator (iN3) building before a crowd of roughly 100 students.
Nayo Campbell, a Howard University senior broadcast major, moderated the event, a momentous occasion for not only her but the School of Communications students in attendance.
“Like Judayah said, your name will be on my degree and anybody in the school of communications’ degree,” said Campbell, who has aspirations of being a media personality.
Hughes candidly discussed her rise to success, which started with a sense of knowing exactly what she wanted to do at a young age.
From her recollections of producing her own radio show in her home using her voice, a mirror and a toothbrush as a young girl, Hughes said she knew she was destined for a greatness that she would not find in Omaha, Neb.
“I tell young people, if you want to do something, don’t let anybody talk you out of it,” Hughes said.
Hughes, who had her son at 17-years-old, did not let early pregnancy stop her. Instead, it fueled her desire to work harder.
“When that baby was placed in my arms for the first time,” Hughes said, “That was the defining moment in my life because that’s why I became a servant of those who listen to my radio station.”
Her journey eventually led her to Howard, where she was a lecturer at the then new School of Communications for nearly a decade. She also became the general sales manager of WHUR, one of the few university owned radio stations, where she also served as the first female vice president and general manager of a station in the nation’s capital.
“The best job that I’ve ever had in my life,” Hughes said, “Was being in the classroom at Howard University.”
Howard School of Communications was officially renamed the Cathy Hughes School of Communications on Oct. 23, 2016. The motion was thanks for a multi-million contribution given to the school by her son, Alfred C. Liggins III, who is also CEO of her media company.
During the conversation, Hughes asked Campbell if she could “flip the script” and conducted a small focus group session among the students attending the event.
By giving the microphone to students, Hughes started a poignant discussion about the issues of African-Americans lacking follow-through and perpetuating negative stereotypes of African-Americans in the media.
Ultimately, the discussion came to a peak when Hughes said, “If we do not validate something that is inaccurate and not a true representation of who we are as black people, nobody else will. It really starts with us.”
Hughes, whose net worth is reportedly $460 million, began as a jockey for WHUR-FM radio in the 1970s and is now a successful black entrepreneur. She owns over 70 radio stations under Radio One and the popular black-owned television network TV One, which is home to shows like “UnSung” and “R&B Divas.”