H Street in Washington D.C. wasn’t always known for its vibrant store fronts and electic mix of cultured professionals, celebrating life. There was a period in time when H Street was simply known as the slums, which produced more drug dealers and crack heads than thriving business owners. And then came Cathy Hughes, a single mother with a dream to build an empire.
H Street also wasn’t the most popular choice of residence for a first time business owner, but Cathy was determined to turn her dreams into reality and H Street would be her canvas. In 1980 she bought the AM radio station WOL 1450 on 4th & H Street in Washington D.C. and built the station from the ground up. It was the first of its kind; a station that would serve the African American community and deal with the problems that affected them directly. H Street, it’s flaws and all became her home, it became her family, and it became the beginning of one of the most successful careers in media anyone has ever seen. H Street also helped her build the largest African American media company in the world. They helped her keep it safe, they helped her build the bricks and they helped her turn one station into 70 stations all across the country.
35 years later the H Street Festival and Washington D.C. honored Cathy Hughes for her contributions to the community by renaming the corner of 4th & H Street “Cathy Hughes Corner.”
Many of her original supporters came to the festival to show their respect to the media legend and to be apart history all over again. Cathy walked through the original building that housed WOL in 1980 and reminisced about the companies beginnings. “We gutted the floor and built this entire basement by hand,” she said. “Nothing was going to stop us from creating a staple in the community, Nothing.” As the stage ceremony began, fans gathered in front of the stage and an emotional Ms. Hughes was awarded with a plaque commemorating the newly named “Cathy Hughes Corner.”
“This is one of the best days of my career.”Don’t let anyone ever tell you that one person can’t make a change, because they truly can.”
– Cathy Hughes