“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Atlas District in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Cathy Hughes

Multi-Media & Radio Pioneer


— Hub, Home, Heart: Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail —

Cathy Hughes Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, December 27, 2017
1. Cathy Hughes Marker
Inscription.  Cathy Hughes and WOL-AM have made an indelible mark on this Washington D.C. community. In 1982, Hughes purchased a building at the corner of 4th and H Streets and found it littered with almost 200 hypodermic needles and crack pipes. The home of her first radio station had been used, for years, as a drug den. The surrounding community was still struggling to recover from the riots that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. Residents and merchants knew something significant was taking place when station vans, with the WOL logo, pulled into the neighborhood. It was clear that Cathy Hughes was committed to the revitalization of the H Street corridor and adjoining neighborhoods because WOL-AM became the very first, major business to relocate to the area.

With a group of volunteers, Hughes worked tirelessly, transforming the building into a functioning radio station and resource center for the community. Three large picture windows were cut into the one story, brick, rectangular building, allowing residents to observe media at work, at all times. The station became known as “RADIOVISION,” and crowds
Cathy Hughes Marker (reverse) image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, December 27, 2017
2. Cathy Hughes Marker (reverse)
routinely came out to meet and greet politicians, celebrities and entertainers who visited the station. Cathy Hughes partnered with local businesses, sponsored community initiatives and festivals and created programs, which helped many of the residents to get back on their feet. WOL, an acronym for “We Offer Love,” allowed Hughes to combine her love for radio and the black community. WOL-AM positioned her to create positive change, pride and progress in the northeast H Street corridor.

Armed with her slogan “information is power,” Hughes kept her listeners informed and tackled tough issues facing the community on the “Cathy Hughes Morning Show.” She employed many local residents, several of whom lived close enough to walk to work, and taught them the business of radio. WOL was also singularly responsible for taking “Go Go” music, D.C.’s own popular, homegrown, musical genre, and elevating it to a national level.

With humble beginnings here in northeast Washington D.C., Cathy Hughes went from H Street to Wall Street after WOL-AM became the birthplace of Radio One, Inc. By 2016, Radio One was a multimedia conglomerate with more than 56 radio stations across the country comprised of talk/news, gospel, R&B, and hip-hop formats. It has diversified and branched out into television and digital media and is the parent
4th St NE & H St NE image. Click for full size.
By Bernard Fisher, December 27, 2017
3. 4th St NE & H St NE
corporation of the subsidiaries TV One, Reach Media, Interactive One, and One Solution. Hughes’ media corporation is now the largest African-American owned business of its kind in the country; yet Hughes still credits her neighbors at 4th and H Street NE helping her to lay her foundation.

Trains and streetcars created the Near Northeast neighborhood around H Street. The B&O Railroad’s arrival in 1835 made this a center of energetic, working-class life. Workmen living north of the Capitol staffed the Government Printing Office, ran the trains, stocked the warehouses, and built Union Station. When a streetcar arrived linking H Street to downtown, new construction quickly followed.

H Street bustled with shops and offices run by Jewish, Italian, Lebanese, Greek Irish, and African American families. During the segregation era, which lasted into the 1950s, African Americans came to H Street for its department stores and sit-down restaurants. Most businesses welcomed all customers.

Then came the civil disturbances in the wake of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968. Decades of commercial decline followed. Just off H Street, though, the strong residential community endured. The 2005 opening of the Atlas Performing Arts Center signaled a revival, building evocatively on H Street’s past. Hub Home, Heart
Cathy Hughes on telephone image. Click for full size.
By David Oggi Ogburn
4. Cathy Hughes on telephone
is a bridge to carry you from that past to the present.

Hub, Home, Heart: Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided, 3.2-mile tour of 19 signs offers about two hours of gentle exercise. Free keepsake guidebooks in English or Spanish are available at businesses and institutions along the way. For more on DC neighborhoods, please visit

This Heritage Trail is produced by Linda Donavan Harper, Mara Cherkasky, Maggie Downing, Sarah Fairbrother, Helen Gineris, Elizabeth Goldberg, Pamela Jafari, Leslie Kershaw, Cortney Kreer, lane Freundel Levey, Jessica Marlett, Kyle Rahn, Leon Seemann, and Pat Wheeler, of Cultural Tourism DC in collaboration with District Department of Transportation, Events DC, U.S. Department of Transportation, H Street Main Street, and Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail Working Group. Special thanks to Heritage Trail Historian Sarah Shenfield; Working Group Co-chairs Joseph A. Englert, Marqui A. Lyons, and Anwar Saleem; and Working Group members Mary Bakota, Rick Burns, Brett Busang, Judge Kaye K. Christian, Roslyn S. Christian, Gloria S. Corbitt, Eddie H. Curry, Jen DeMayo, William Dunn, Gwendolyn Faulkner, Elise Fisher, Patsy Fletcher, Thomas Gallo, Lisa Green, Frank Hankins, Edith and Art Hessel, Evelyn Kogok Hier, Thomas Hier, Scott Kenison,
Cathy Hughes on microphone in WOL image. Click for full size.
By Jason Miccolo Johnson
5. Cathy Hughes on microphone in WOL
The "Cathy Hughes Morning Show" was a staple program on WOL-AM. Her guests could be seen every morning, live on the air, through a window that looked in from the corner of 4th and H Streets. Neighbors nicknamed it RadioVision. Photo courtesy of Radio One.
Barbara M. Murphy, Demitri Nader, Doug Pulak, Drew Ronneberg, Robb Santamaria, Ramona Service, Patrick Stewart, Monisha Sujan, Chris Swanson, Katie Turner, Paul Turner, Bill Ulle, Kathryn Warnes, Melvin Warther, Helen Wooden Wood, and Patricia Wrightson.

Thanks also to Zelma Coleman, Lauria Collins, Diane Easterling, Derk Gray, Mark Greek, Faye Haskins, Sue Hersman, Agnes Hill, Lucinda P. Janke, Carole Kolker, Brian Kraft, Richard Layman, Michael Olson, Mark Opsasnick, Eddy Palanzo, Glenn Pearson, Kathryn Schneider Smith, and Wendy Turman.

Cathy Hughes Heritage Sign designed by Rodney Sutton for the DDOT.

©2016, All Rights Reserved.

Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 19.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Greater H Street Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 54.007′ N, 77° 0.042′ W. Marker is in Atlas District, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of H Street Northeast and 4th Street Northeast, on the right when traveling east on H Street Northeast. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 337 H Street Northeast, Washington DC 20002, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Community Caretakers (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sanctuaries
Cathy Hughes image. Click for full size.
6. Cathy Hughes
Cathy Hughes was a voice and champion for the residents of the 4th and H Street corridor. Many of her employees lived in the neighborhood and walked to work daily. Photo courtesy of Radio One.
(about 700 feet away); Get Behind the Wheel (approx. 0.2 miles away); Roll Out the Barrel (approx. 0.2 miles away); Swampoodle (approx. ¼ mile away); The Fires of 1968 (approx. ¼ mile away); At the Crossroads (approx. 0.3 miles away); Gateway to The Nation's Capital (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Atlas District.
Also see . . .  Hub, Home, Heart: Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail. Cultural Tourism DC (Submitted on December 28, 2017.) 
Categories. African AmericansCommunicationsIndustry & CommerceWomen
WOL 1450 Am image. Click for full size.
7. WOL 1450 Am
WOL-AM was known as the Soul Rocker for broadcasting live from the rooftop of the station. Photo courtesy of Radio One.
Cathy Hughes w/ Dick Gregory and Mark Lane image. Click for full size.
By Roy Lewis
8. Cathy Hughes w/ Dick Gregory and Mark Lane
Cathy Hughes interviews Dick Gregory shortly after the 1968 riots. Photo courtesy of Radio One.
4th & H Streets image. Click for full size.
9. 4th & H Streets
The corner of 4th and H Streets, NE became a focal point of this community after WOL-AM, which stands for "We Offer Love" moved here in 1980. Photo courtesy of Radio One.
Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail image. Click for full size.
10. Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail

More. Search the internet for Cathy Hughes.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 16, 2019. This page originally submitted on December 28, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 195 times since then and 66 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 28, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.   4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on December 29, 2017.
Paid Advertisement