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Cathy Hughes and the Women of Urban One Kick-off Women’s History Month Talking to Howard Students

By Breonna Randall, Staff Reporter

Photo by Breonna Randall

Urban media maven, entrepreneur, mother and namesake of the Howard University School of Communications, Cathy Hughes, visited the CB Powell building with an event highlighting her long path to success and tools for achievement with some of the women of Urban One. During the panel they touched on what it is like being women in their fields and tips they learned from their own personal experiences. 

The panel was held on the 153rd anniversary of Howard University’s Charter Day and the second day of Women’s History Month, emphasizing the power of the event.

Amber Tucker opened the night with a detailed introduction of Ms. Hughes, from her humble beginnings at KOHW in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska to her multimedia powerhouse Urban One. Tucker is a senior broadcast journalism major.

“I read her bio and looked up different interviews to try to see what questions she hadn’t been asked,” said Tucker, “I didn’t want it to be the normal ‘How is this?,’ ‘How was that?’ so I tried to create questions as original as possible.” 

In their conversation Ms. Hughes told inspiring stories and dropped very valuable gems for everyone in the audience to be inspired by. 

“My father was a CPA [Certified Public Accountant] and he had taught me about the law of averages, and the law averages teaches you that it is impossible for a no to remain no indefinitely. At some point you’re going to get a yes,” shared Hughes.

She recounted her struggles being the first woman General Manager at WHUR and how she had many critics that felt she wasn’t right for the job. 

“I faced adversities, oh please! The Hilltop point black said a woman should not be the manager of WHUR,” said Hughes. As a testament to how much progress has been made in the almost 50 years, The Hilltop itself is now mainly ran by women.  

Although she never received a degree, Ms. Hughes lifts Howards name up every chance she has to show she is thankful for the opportunities granted to her.

“I love this place. This place nurtured, they groomed me, me they prepared me for what became my career and my life,” said Hughes. 

The second half of the event was moderated by Kaprielle Trenard, a senior broadcast journalism major. On the stage joining Ms. Hughes were the Women of Urban One: Karen Wishart who served as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, Michelle Rice who serves as General Manager at TV One and CLEO TV, Janine Brunson-Johnson who is Radio One’s D.C. Promotions Director and Tracey Uy who is an award-winning producer and editor at TV One. 

The stories told by these women were able to inspire the many students in the audience.  

“Someone on the panel said to not always see something as failure, it’s okay to pivot and that stuck with me the most. We think it’s a failure but really it’s us having to understand that it’s okay to take another turn and realize that something just isn’t for you, that was my biggest take away from the entire event tonight,” said broadcast journalism major Taylor Thibodaux. 

While discussing the do’s and don’ts working in their industries and how to know yourself well enough to work better with others, Johnson said, “it’s important to remember to never burn a bridge.” She continued, “you might have a bad situation, you might have an exchange of words and you might have a difference in opinions but you never know what bridge you might have to cross again.” 

“I think this was extremely important especially as a woman growing in the media industry hoping to make a name for myself, seeing women who have already accomplished this goal and are continuing to excel in this goal further motivates me to get in this industry and it further proves that our voices as women are necessary,” said broadcast journalism major Tia Humphries. Humphries along with Broadcast Journalism major, Tai Spears received a shout out from Uy for being women behind the cameras recording the panel. 

The stories told by the women of Urban One were not just useful for navigating the industry, but it was also touched some on a personal level.

“I know one of the panelists [Johnson] mentioned that she was dyslexic and as someone who is dyslexic and working in the media and having to teach yourself how to read by yourself and really develop your passion with something that is an inherent disability was a really profound moment for me,” said broadcast journalism major and president of Howard University Association of Black Journalist, Julia Weng. “I never met anyone like that, that really shared my journey and shared my story to that length like to my childhood, that was a beautiful moment.”