Companies

Description

Urban One, Inc. is a Silver Spring, Maryland-based American media conglomerate. Founded in 1980 by Cathy Hughes, the company primarily operates media properties targeting African Americans. It is the largest African-American-owned broadcasting company in the United States, operating 55 radio stations and majority-owning the syndicator Reach Media, as well as its digital arm Interactive One, and the cable network TV One.

As of 2014, it was the ninth-highest-earning African-American-owned business in the United States.

History

Urban One was founded as Radio One in 1980 by Cathy Hughes, a then-recently divorced single mother, with the purchase of the Washington, D.C. radio station WOL-AM for $995,000. She changed the station's programming format from all-music to one that examined politics and culture from an African American perspective. Hughes purchased her second station, WMMJ in Washington, seven years later, which began to turn a profit once she converted it into a rhythm and blues station. This established Radio One's early strategy of purchasing small, underperforming radio stations in urban markets and refocusing them to serve the demographics of their communities.

After joining the company in 1985 and managing its day-to-day operations since 1993, Hughes's son, Alfred C. Liggins III, took over as CEO in 1997, with Hughes becoming the board's chairperson. Under the guidance of recently appointed CEO Liggins, Radio One went public on May 6, 1999, while continuing to be controlled by the family. The company's initial public offering was for 6.5 million shares at $24 per share. This made Hughes the first African American woman to chair a public company. As of 2010, Hughes and Liggins control 90% of Radio One's voting stock.

In 2001, Radio One expanded into 22 markets, with 18 million listeners, making it the nation's largest urban-market radio broadcasting company. Radio One reached a peak of owning 70 stations in 22 markets in 2007. It is the largest African-American-owned-and-operated broadcast company in the US.

In 1996, Radio One moved its corporate offices from Washington, D.C., to Lanham, Maryland. The company is now based in Silver Spring, Maryland.

On May 8, 2018, Radio One was renamed Urban One.

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