It is said that Hughes was turned down by 32 banks before securing a loan to buy her first radio station in the early 1980s. Struggling at first, the single mother and her teenage son literally lived at the office, cooking on a hot plate and bathing in the restroom. But she parlayed her mix of talk, political commentary, and activism into a $287 million company that owns 65 radio stations around the country. She became the first black woman to lead a publicly traded company.
Ms. Hughes has been Chairperson of the Board of Directors and Secretary of Radio One since 1980 and was Chief Executive Officer of Radio One from 1980 to 1997. She was one of the founders of Radio One's predecessor company in 1980. Since 1980, Ms. Hughes has worked in various capacities for Radio One including President, General Manager, General Sales Manager and talk show host. She began her career in radio as General Sales Manager of WHUR-FM, the Howard University-owned, urban-contemporary radio station.