Near Northeast in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Multi-Media & Radio Pioneer
—Hub, Home, Heart: Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail —
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 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
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 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
Reverse 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 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,
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, 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
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.)
Location. 38° 54.007′ N, 77° 0.042′ W. Marker is in Near Northeast, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of H Street NE and 4th Street NE, on the right when traveling east on H Street NE. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20002, United States of America.
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 (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 Near Northeast.
Also see . . . Hub, Home, Heart: Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail. Cultural Tourism DC (Submitted on December 28, 2017.)
Categories. • African Americans • Communications • Entertainment • Industry & Commerce •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 16, 2018. This page originally submitted on December 28, 2017, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 90 times since then and 28 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.