I have always admired Cathy Hughes, founder of Radio One. She is a trailblazer who had a vision and worked towards it despite the enormous odds that were against her. She literally lived at the station in the early days with her son to help make ends meet, but she never lost sight of her dream. Her fortunes began to change when she revamped the R&B station to a 24-hour talk radio format. Hughes and Radio One went on to own 70 radio stations in nine major markets in the United States. Her son, Alfred Liggins III, serves as CEO and president and Hughes as chairwoman. In January 2004, Radio One launched TV One, a national cable and satellite television network which bills itself as the “lifestyle and entertainment network for African-American adults.” Hughes interviews prominent personalities, usually in the entertainment industry, for the network’s talk program TV One on One. I have to admit that TV One is way better than BET, but it is much smaller and has a way to go. What I admire about her is that in the face of adversity she did not waver but kept steadfast to her goals. So, naturally I was a little appalled at the recent turn of events at the company.
Liggins would receive $980,000 in salary, a 70 percent increase over the $575,370 he made in 2007, and have the opportunity to match that in an annual bonus, contingent in part on the company meeting certain performance goals. He would be paid a $1 million “signing bonus” because, the Radio One compensation committee said, he has been underpaid for the last three years. Liggins also would be paid $4.8 million to compensate him for losses he incurred when he was forced to repay a company loan to buy Radio One stock several years ago. Liggins received $1.1 million in total compensation in 2007; his mother received $602,252.
Final compensation decisions are to be made by the Radio One board, and salaries could be increased at its discretion, according to the employment agreements. The company is scheduled to hold a shareholders’ meeting on May 28 to vote on retaining Hughes, Liggins and others on the board.
I have heard Warren Ballentine asking people to invest in black owned businesses, involving Radio One and I have no issue with him on that. The problem with this is the fact that these people have been given such generous raises while the company is obviously struggling. I am well aware that a black owned media company and a white owned media company face a lot of dissimilar issues, but if this company is to survive, they cannot engage in such egregious behavior. We need black owned stations in our communities because they give us news, views and programming that the conventional media would turn a blind eye at. With that in mind, you can’t get continue to raid the piggy bank while it is running close to empty. So, Ms. Hughes, while I respect you deeply and honor you in many ways as being a trailblazer, I must point out that your latest salary package sends the wrong message to your shareholders and is clearly not in the best interest of your company, that you fought so hard to build. Just my thoughts, you be the judge…..