THE BROADCAST EMPIRE BUILT FROM THE MICROPHONE UP
Everyone loves a hero. We love old fashioned rags to riches stories about starting at the bottom and zooming straight to the top. Cathy Hughes' story is one of those. In the world of radio and business, she has built an empire and attained status of truly heroic proportions. A college drop-out who became pregnant at 16, Hughes gained 82 pounds and suffered from depression. However, her son, Alfred, became her inspiration and her motivation. Unstoppable, Hughes pushed forward, saying a prayer every morning, and behind the microphone---raising hell. She has slept nights in a sleeping bag on the station's floor and played her own LPs brought from home to fill air time, working in every aspect of radio from sales to talk show host.
In 1973, Hughes was named general sales manager to WHUR-FM in Washington, D.C, and by 1975 was hired as the general manager of the station. Under her guidance, WHUR-FM, which had been struggling along with $300,000 in annual sales revenues, increased its annual revenues to more than $3.5 million. In 1978, Hughes left WHUR for WYCB Radio, where she served as the vice president and general manager of the station.
Hughes and her husband at the time, Dewey Hughes, decided they wanted to buy their own radio station in 1979, and after being rejected by thirty-two banks, they found a lender. With their loan, they purchased WOL, a small Washington, D.C. station and Radio One was born. While Hughes wanted a talk format for the station, the bank was pressing for music. A compromise was reached permitting Hughes to have a morning talk show program that was followed by music programming throughout the day.
Hughes' marriage ended shortly after purchasing the station and she began her path as a single mother. She purchased her husband's share in the station, but hard times soon forced she and her son, Alfred, to give up their apartment and move into the station to make ends meet. Over time, however, the station began turning a profit, largely due to the success of her talk show.
Today, Hughes and her son, Alfred Liggins, the president and CEO, work side by side running Radio One, Inc., the largest African American owned and operated broadcast-company in the nation. It is the first African American company in radio history to dominate several major markets simultaneously, and the first woman-owned radio station to rank #1 in any major market. In 1995, Radio One purchased WKYS in Washington, D.C. for $40 million -- the largest transaction between two Black companies in broadcasting history.
In May of 1999, Hughes and Liggins took their company public. Hughes made history again by becoming the first African American woman with a company on the stock exchange. Radio One's value is currently in excess of $2 billion dollars. In 2000, Black Enterprise named Radio One, "Company of the Year", Fortune rated it one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For", and Radio One was inducted into the Maryland Business Hall of Fame.
This week’s Future Mogul Blue Chip Company to keep your eyes or should I say keep your ears open for are the Radio POWER Duo Sir Daniel and Drama Dupree from www.BetterDaysRadio.com headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. This month they celebrate their 1 year anniversary. The radio media moguls, Sir Daniel (SD) and DRAMA DUPREE (DD) shared with Lil Mogul (LM) their views on the power of the media, their 10 year plan and if Lady Gaga will take over the world in 2010.
(LM) What’s your Zodiac Sign?
(LM) Where were you born?
(SD) The island of the sun, Barbados
(DD) OPELIKA, ALABAMA A SMALL TOWN NEAR AUBURN UNIVERSITY
(LM) Where do you currently live?
(DD) ATLANTA, GA
(LM) Where did you go to college?
(SD) Clark Atlanta University (Go Panthers!)
(DD) I ATTENDED TWO JR. COLLEGES SOUTHERN UNION FOR BUSINESS AND BAUDER COLLEGE FOR FASHION DESIGN
(LM) What do you do (career or claim to FAME)?
(SD) I am the creator and co-host of Better Days Radio, Online radio for us by us (photo of Sir Daniel)
(DD) MY CLAIM TO FAME IS YOUTUBE ON DRAMADUPREE.COM. I ALWAYS TELL PEOPLE I AM NOT A FAMOUS PERSON AND I AM NOT THAT POPULAR AMONGST THE MASSES. BUT I AM POPULAR AMONGST THE POPULAR PEOPLE.
(LM) How did you get started in your new found career or industry?
(SD) For several years I worked as a Producer and Board operator at THE major urban radio station in Atlanta where I soaked up everything you could possibly learn about the industry and creating good shows. One day I stepped back and realized that my personal goals weren't being fulfilled and my talents were not being used. So on a whim I decided to create my own opportunity to showcase my abilities and to talk about issues that meant something to me.
(DD) I WAS FIRED FROM MY CORPORATE JOB AT HOME DEPOT AND I WANTED TO VENT. A FRIEND GAVE ME A CAMCORDER AND SO I VENTED, UPLOADED IT TO YOUTUBE AND FRESH FROM CRUNK AND DISORDERLY POSTED THE VIDEO ON HER SITE AND I WAS AN INSTANT HIT
(LM) Do you think entrepreneurship is for everyone and/or important?
(SD) The entrepreneurial spirit is not in everyone. It takes a commitment that could almost be considered a compulsive obsession.
DD) HONESTLY, NO I DO NOT. EVERYONE DOES NOT HAVE A BUSINESS MIND. NOW WITH THAT BEING SAID, I THINK IF SOMEONE FINDS A GREAT PARTNER THEN MAYBE. I, DONT HAVE A GREAT BUSINESS MIND BUT I HAVE GOOD BUSINESS MINDED PEOPLE IN MY CAMP. YES I THINK ENTREPRENEURSHIP IS VERY IMPORTANT, AFTER ALL SMALL BUSINESS' ARE WHAT MAKE AMERICA GREAT.
(LM) What was one of your highlights as an entrepreneur or during your career path?
(SD) So far my biggest highlight was broadcasting live during Atlanta Pride '09 from the lobby of the host hotel.
(DD) WHEN I WAS FEATURED ON CNN AND WAS WRITTEN ABOUT IN ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION. I KNEW THEN THAT SOMEONE WAS LISTENING AND LOOKING. I PRAY THEY STILL ARE. I ALSO LOVE LOVE LOVE THE FACT THAT MY OWN COMMUNITY HAS TAKEN A LIKING TO ME. I JUST KNEW YOU ALL WERE NOT FEELING ME AND THEN WHAM, I WAS HIT IN THE HEAD WITH EMAILS AND COMMENTS AND I WAS ELATED THAT MY OWN KIND LIKE ME AND APPRECIATED WHAT I DO. (photo of Drama Dupree)
(LM) What would you share with other getting started as an entrepreneur or on their career path?
(SD) For anyone on the path to their dream, please know that it can be a lonley place because no one else shares your vision, but that vision is God given. And there is a lot to be said for visualization and projecting your vision and goals. Write it down and make it plain!
(DD) BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. KNOW YOUR BRAND. STAY TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE. NO ONE WILL BUY WHAT YOUR SELLING, IF YOU DONT BELIEVE IN WHAT YOU ARE SELLING.
(LM) If you can TELL the community to AWAKE UP – What should they be aware of?
(SD) The community needs to be aware of their power to create a new reality and to change to world's perception of who we are.
(DD) AIDS. ITS LIKE WE DONT PAY ENOUGH ATTENTION TO THIS DISEASE TODAY. WE DONT SEE ITS REAL AFFECT IN OUR COMMUNITY. THE PEOPLE THAT ARE POSITIVE DONT TELL US THAT THEY ARE POSITIVE OR THEY DISAPPEAR FROM OUR COMMUNITY. THEY NEED TO SPEAK UP AND TELL US THEY ARE STILL HERE. TELL US THEIR STORY SO WE CAN LEARN FROM THEM. TODAY, WE JUST DONT SEE IT. IM GOING TO NEED FOR US TO SEE IT AND FOR US TO KNOW THAT IT IS STILL HERE.
STABILITY AND FINANCIAL INDEPENDANCE ARE ALSO SOMETHING OUR YOUNGER GENERATION AND SOME OLD HEADS NEED TO BE MADE AWARE OF.
(LM) What is your ultimate 10 year plan for The Future?
(SD) In 10 years I plan on being an international media pundit
(DD) TO HAVE MY OWN TV/RADIO SHOW ON A GLOBAL SCALE ON A MAJOR NETWORK. TO BE VERY SUCCESSFUL AND STAY AWAY FROM SEX SCANDALS; UNLESS OFCOURSE IT HELPS MY CAREER...LOL. YOU KNOW THE GAYS LOVE A GOOD SEX SCANDAL WITH A HOT DATE...LOL, LET ME STOP.
(LM) What motto do you live by?
(SD) Manners matter- be gentleman first.
(DD) LEARN TO USE WHAT YOU HAVE GOT AND YOU WONT NEED WHAT YOU HAVE NOT! RIGHT NOW I DONT HAVE A MAJOR TV SHOW, I HAVE YOUTUBE, I DONT HAVE A MAJOR RADIO SHOW, I HAVE BETTER DAYS RADIO. SO IM USING WHAT I'VE GOT.
(LM) President Obama has completed 1 year in office what do you think about this performance?
(SD) I think President Obama is doing the best he can with what he was given. I believe he is going to turn it up a notch and some people won’t be ready for that.
(DD) I SAW AN INTERVIEW WHERE I BELIEVE HE GAVE HIMSELF A 'B' AS A GRADE. I WOULD GIVE HIM A 'C+'. I KNOW HE CANT DO EVERTHING IN A YEAR BUT I BELIEVE HE COULD HAVE DONE BETTER IN TERMS OF THE LAWS THAT AFFECT THE LGBT COMMUNITY. I KNOW HE HAS HIRED A LOT OF OPENLY GAY PEOPLE AND TRANSGENDERED FOLK BUT I STILL THINK THERE ARE THINGS HE COULD HAVE ADDRESSED IN HIS FIRST YEAR. SO I SAY A 'C+'.
(LM) Have you seen a Change?
(SD) I have seen a change in some of America's behavior since Obama came into office. Some of it is progressive and some of the behavior screams of a darker time in America's history.
(DD) OH GOODNESS YES, I HAVE SEEN CHANGE. THANKS TO HIM I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO MAINTAIN MY LIFESTYLE DUE TO HIS INCREASES WITH THE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. WITHOUT THAT FINANCIAL HELP I DONT KNOW WHERE I WOULD BE. PROBABLY STILL OUT THERE ON THAT CORNER. I ALSO LIKE THE FACT THAT HE MAKES HIMSELF AND HIS FAMILY SEEM APPROACHABLE UNLIKE THE PREVIOUS PRESIDENT. IVE SEEN HOW HE HAS TRIED TO UNITE THE DEMOCRATS AND THE REPUBLICANS. PREVIOUS PRES, NOT SO MUCH.
(LM)What is new in the music industry? (hip hop is a major force but what is next?) World Fusion, Alternative Pop, Indie Bands, etc.??? What would you like to see?
(SD) The music industry is struggling whether we realize it or not. But you will see a lot more hybrid music. Many "rap" artist will become more experimental with their music. I also believe OUT Hip Hop will have a major break-through turning the world upside down.
(DD) WHAT I SEE HAPPENING IS A RESSURGANCE OF OLD; BUT ITS NOT WORKING FOR US, WE ARE NOT BUYING IT, WELL IM NOT BUYING IT. YOU CAN SEE THAT FROM RECORD SALES. WHAT I LOVE TO SEE ARE ALL OF THE INDEPENDANT ARTISTS WHO ARE DOING THINGS FOR THEMSELVES. AND HONESTLY, THEY ARE PRODUCING BETTER MUSIC. I WANT TO SEE DANCE MUSIC FOR THE MASSES, LIKE WHAT THE BLACK EYED PEAS ARE DOING. AND REAL LOVE SONGS, LIKE ANITA BAKER, NOT REMAKES OF R&B ARTIST INTO A NEW VERSION OF R. KELLY.
(LM) Is Lady Gaga going to take over the World? (Music, Fashion, Red Carpet)
(SD) Lady Gaga is brilliant and she willed herself into an icon in only 2 short years. It will be interesting to see how multi-faceted she is in the near future.
(DD) YES, I THINK SHE IS. TO ME SHE IS THE RUPAUL AND MADONNA OF THE NEW DECADE. REMEMBER ALL THE BUZZ RUPAUL AND MADONNA CREATED WHEN THEY FIRST CAME ON THE SCENE. LOOK AT WHO WAS BEHIND RUPAUL'S IMAGE. LOOK AT WHO MADONNA SURROUNDED HERSELF WITH. NOW, LOOK AT WHO IS BEHIND LADY GAGA, A BUNCH OF UBER TALENTED QUEENS. SEE WHAT WE CAN DO, WHEN WE ARENT BITCHING AT EACH OTHER. WE CAN COME TOGETHER AND CREATE SOMETHING GREAT LIKE LADY GAGA.