media Tag

Black Is Beautiful 2021 – Cathy Hughes

Cathy Hughes was born in 1947 in Omaha Nebraska and knew from an early age knew what she wanted to be on the air. Before TV or the web was big it was all about radio. Cathy came from a family of entrepreneurs. Her mom was a professional trombonist with the group “International Sweethearts of Rhythm” an all ladies band. Her dad was a successful accountant and her grandfather founded a school for Black children. She became a teen single mother and began working for the Omaha Star which was one of the big Black newspapers owned by Mildred Brown. She went on to work for Omaha’s station Kowh before she met Tom Brown, a broadcaster who recognized her talent and asked her to come work for him as he established Howard’s (HBCU) first school of communications. There she helped build the station as a sales manager and eventually as general manager. Then the Washington Broadcasters brought her on to restructure and rebrand a failing station. When they wouldn’t make her an equal par owner she decided to start her own radio company and purchased 1450 Am WOL in 1980. She was turned down by over 30 banks and lending institutions when she wanted to buy it. And when she finally got it she had to live there with her son. She made it work. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week she was on the air or hired DJs tto be on the air. She developed a format most of us know from Black radio-the quiet storm. A program of sexy sweet soul and blues. She did well expanding to news coverage from a Black perspective and buying more stations. 
At the height of her company she owned over 70 radio stations. She founded a TV company (TV One) in 1988 which still runs today. Her son took over of the umbrella company “Urban One” as CEO in 1997, the largest Black owned company of radio in the country. And her son , now a business school grad took the company public making her the first Black woman to own a publicly traded company in history. She is a powerhouse of business and media achievement touching Black families all over the country. In this illustration I imagined she must have mentored some younger folks along the way and she is literally passing the microphone to them. Inspiring work and she’s still going!
Sources: BOSS-The Black Experience in Business (film), How I built this (podcast), Block Starz TV
Did you catch this one about Robert Sengstacke Abbott (Chicago Defender)? 
The last one from 2021 was Little Richard!

Black is Beautiful (2018) 5 – Robert Sengstacke Abbott


Robert Sengstacke Abbott
started was a poor kid from the south who became a man of immense wealth. Not just monetarily, but with knowledge and power. Born in 1870 Robert traveled to the world’s fair and was inspired by a speaker named Fredrick Douglas. He would later move to Chicago, and on the dining room table of his landlord start one of the biggest Black owned media companies; The Chicago Defender. Robert wanted to be a lawyer and went to school for it, but faced so many obstacles racially, financially, etc that he decided to start the Defender. He researched and worked hard figuring out how to get it printed and how to distribute it. And once he got it started it spread quickly. Realizing there were vast parts of Black life that White newspapers ignored Robert began covering life, death, social events, small businesses, news from a Black view point, and everything in between. He spoke about lynchings when white newspapers acted like they did not exist. The newspaper started to get around, mostly in Chicago and a few spots in the south. He bought a press, hired writers, illustrators, expanded the copies printed, and started to make a living. Then, whites in the South started to ban his newspaper. Not only because it told the truth about lynchings, but because it invited and encouraged Black folks from the south to come north to Chicago. The Defender taught new comers how to get there, who was hiring, how to find a place to live, and even what nightlife there was.  When the paper started to get confiscated, he called on a powerful union of men to distribute it; the Brotherhood of the Sleeping Car Porters who rode trains all over the US. Robert was part of a wave of Black presses that told stories about Black life and he started a parade that still happens today called the Bud Biliken Parade & Picnic in Chicago.


Sources:
The Defender, Wikipedia, The Black Press Documentary, The Sengstacke Eye

Dig this? Check out this piece about Cathy Hughes

Black is Beautiful 21-KDIA radio station (Oakland)

Every weekend almost as a kid I would go to San Francisco from the East Bay to visit my grandparents in the city. We would cross the old Bay Bridge and on the way we’d pass this radio station on the right of the freeway. I didn’t know it at the time, but it is one of the first stations to play black music in the Bay Area alongside KSOL and KPOO. “Kdia Lucky 13”, was founded in 1959 and covered Alameda, Contra Costa, SF, Solano, Sonoma, Santa Clara, and reached almost out to Stockton. You would hear songs like “the midnight hour” by Ray Charles, “tell it like it is” by Aaron Neville, or Bay Area musicians like “Confunkshun” and “Marvin Holmes and The Uptights”.  I consider it part of this months history because for over 30 years this radio station not only played Black Music but hired Black DJs and was awarded for some of their reporting and/or segments. There were DJs there like Roland Porter, Belva Davis, John Hardy, Jay Sweet, Diane Blackmon, and later would be owned by Adam Clayton Powell, journalist Chauncy Bailey, Elihu Harris, and Willy Brown. I was reminded of KDIA by the African American library on 14th st. in Oakland recently. Why is media black owned or directed media important? You tell me! Shout out to Hard Knock Radio and Block Report Radio.