Mr. Ruben Hughes entered the world with his powerful presence on September 9, 1938 in Forest, MS. He attended E.T. Hawkins High School and became esteemed for his keen ability to speak and impact his peers. As a witty and charismatic 16-year-old, he began his career as a radio disc-jockey. Three years later, he debuted his self-produced blues segment at WMAG. His earliest gigs fortified his relationships with industry professionals, fueled his determination for success, and laid the path for a lifelong career in entertainment.
After high school, he enrolled at Tennessee State University, where he studied political science with a minor in speech and ran track with Olympian, Wilma Rudolph. Ruben’s full-time radio career began at WQIC in Meridian, MS, where he worked as an on-air personality and the station’s program and religious director. He subsequently ventured into promotions, where he worked with world-class gospel artists: Shirley Caesar, Rev. C.L. & Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson, and the Mighty Clouds of Joy.
In 1964, he took his talents to WMOZ in Mobile, AL, where he served as the station’s Program Director and affectionately became known as “Sugar Daddy.” He later began establishing entrepreneurial roots by founding two successful businesses: a record shop and a nightclub. In 1969, he was featured in the Jet magazine for his collaboration with Vernon Floyd and Robert Floyd to build WORV radio in Hattiesburg, MS, which became the first African-American owned station in the state. He later developed a lifelong friendship with James Brown that encouraged his ultimate dream. He then proceeded to have a rewarding career at the Mobile Press Registry for over 15 years.
Known for his fearless ambition, incredible tenacity, and hard work, in 1988, he achieved his lifelong goal of opening his own radio station. Ruben founded WGNL 104.3 in Greenwood, MS, which ultimately became the most dynamic and trusted radio station in the Mississippi Delta. Featuring an extensive R&B catalog, all-day Blues formats on Saturdays, and Sunday morning gospel, WGNL became an influential radio force throughout the Delta, North Mississippi, and parts of Central Mississippi. In 2002, he ventured into the Urban/Contemporary markets and founded WGNG at the 106.3 frequency. For several decades, Ruben led the Mississippi Delta region in producing highly successful and legendary Blues concerts, including the Cotton Capital Blues Festival.
Ruben was preceded in death by his parents, John Hughes and Ethel Body Hughes, and his siblings: Julius C. Hughes, Nettie Hughes, Johnnie Mae Hughes, Carrie Hughes Bates, James Hughes, Fred Hughes, Willie Hughes, Vivian Hughes Anderson, Fannie M. Hughes, Boaz Hughes, and Bobbie Jerry Hughes.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Maxine Hughes; four (4) children: Tony (Marion) Hughes of Madison, MS, Cyreio (Willete) Hughes of Greenwood, MS, Charmaine Hughes of Mobile, AL, and Vikki (Perry) Williams of Stockbridge, GA; three (3) sisters: Emma Jones of Fort Wayne, IN; Alice Faye Holifield of Mobile, AL, and Bobbie Jean Hughes Hunter of Brandon, MS; six (6) grandchildren: Jasmine Hughes, Jamison Hughes, Armesha Shelby, Jay (Rhea-Anna) Hughes, Sydney Williams, and Kennedy Williams; three (3) great-grandchildren: Addisyn Shelby, Christian Shelby, and Brooklyn Hughes, and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends.