Making waves in broadcasting

by Joy Duckett Cain

I don't think that bad things happen; I think you're faced with challenges. I was 16 when I got pregnant; my son was born when I was 17. My mother and everyone else saw it as terrible--the end of my life. Mom wanted me to have an abortion and continue my education, but I wanted to have the baby. Now everybody, especially Morn, says thank God that I didn't have the abortion. My son, Alfred Liggins III, was the greatest blessing I ever received because he made me think beyond myself. I never dreamed a dream of my personal success; I dreamed of my son's not becoming a statistic. And now he works with me as the CEO and president of Radio One.

I had a variety of jobs before I arrived at Howard University, where I became the general sales manager and then general manager of its radio station, WHUR. At my next job, at Washington, D.C.'s WYCB, the first 24-hour gospel station, I got the opportunity to build a radio station from the ground up--and then the owners ran out of money. They wanted me to get them a loan. I replied that if I did shop a loan for them I wanted a piece of the company. They told me that if I thought I was so smart, I should go and buy my own radio station. It was as if a light went off in my head. That's when I went into business for myself.

I've had some financially dark days. In 1983, about three years into owning my first radio station, in D.C., I lost everything. For about 18 months I ended up sleeping in a sleeping bag on the floor of the radio station and washing up in the public bathroom every morning. But I