Magazine article Black Enterprise

Keeping It in the Black: Cathy Hughes' Radio One Buys Its Seventh Station

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Keeping It in the Black: Cathy Hughes' Radio One Buys Its Seventh Station

Article excerpt

The largest radio transaction between two minority-owned companies recently took place in Washington.

Radio One Inc., chaired by popular radio talk show host Cathy Hughes, paid $34 million for WKYS-FM, a 50,000-watt, urban contemporary station. WKYS was owned by Albimar Communications Inc., whose principal partners include U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and Jim Kelly, husband of former D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly. Albimar will get a tax break for selling to a minority-owned company.

"It's exciting that we could step up to the plate and keep this radio station in black ownership," Hughes says.

The deal will make Radio One, which already owns six stations in Washington and Baltimore, a regional powerhouse. Last year, Radio One reported $17.6 million in revenues.

The willingness to take risks might best explain why Hughes has prospered in the competitive and cyclical radio industry. In fact, she seems to dare it to defy her determination to succeed. Before striking out on her own, Hughes had a thriving career as general manager of WHUR-FM, a radio station owned and operated by Howard University. While there, she increased advertising revenues from $300,000 to $3.5 million, and created the popular "Quiet Storm" format now heard on stations nationwide.

Hughes bought her first station, WOL-AM in Washington, in 1980. Although she got a price break from the FCC because it was a distress sale, it was several years before the station made a profit. It was a stand-alone station, and without an FM brother, Hughes could not offer the same competitive advertising rates as other companies. …

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