SiriusXM And Pandora Turn Up Volume On HBCU Music, Culture
HBCU

SiriusXM And Pandora Turn Up The Volume At HBCU Homecoming Events

Nicole Hughey, SiriusXM ,Pandora, HBCUs
Nicole Hughey, SVP, head of DEI and social impact at SiriusXM + Pandora, speaks at the "For the Love” event hosted by SiriusXM and Pandora in August 2023, which allowed hundreds of kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens to learn about the history of hip-hop. (Courtesy SiriusXM and Pandora)

College-branded cropped sweaters, camo paints, and airbrushed bucket hats painted the scene Oct. 23 as nearly 3,000 college students swagged and surfed at The HBCU PopOut, hosted by SiriusXM The Heat’s Swaggy Sie, featuring DJ Jazzy T from Pandora Now.

In collaboration with Morehouse College, SiriusXM and Pandora brought an exclusive activation to Morehouse and the Atlanta University Center during this week’s homecoming festivities, which featured an evening full of music, giveaways, and an exclusive performance by Grammy-award winning Roc Nation artist Ambré.

“There’s homecoming at a lot of schools and then there’s homecoming at HBCUs, and we are so happy to be able to play a small part,” Nicole Hughey, senior vice president, head of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) and social impact at SiriusXM/Pandora, told BLACK ENTERPRISE.

Hughey was recently interviewed on BE’s HBCU-focused podcast “Class Is in Session” to discuss the various ways her company is turning up the volume to uplift HBCU culture and Black voices, artists, and creators: inside the workplace and outside in the community. The HBCU PopOut at Morehouse is one of many such events.

Promoting HBCU Culture On & Off the Air

Hughey describes SiriusXM as the leading audio entertainment company in North America with three audio businesses: the flagship subscription business (SiriusXM); ad-supported, premium music streaming (Pandora); and an extensive podcast network. There are channels devoted specifically to HBCUs.

“We understand the nuances of our audiences, and so when we think about young and diverse talent, HBCUs hands down become a prime entertainment opportunity for us,” she said.

Hughey has worked in three different industries in DE&I for nearly 20 years, but so far enjoys this work in audio entertainment the most.

“To do it at a place like SiriusXM where the music is very near and dear to me…where DE&I—which really speaks to the broadness of perspective—shows up in our content,” Hughey told BE.

“From old-school to new-school to jazz, we do it all, because we know HBCU students represent all types of interesting ideas and thoughts when it comes to their music,” she said.

It’s more than just good music and vibes: Hughey said her company amplifies Black voices and content creators by fostering career pathways for Black college students interested in entertainment technology and by supporting community events. The Pathways Program provides recent HBCU grads and early-career professionals a yearlong training and mentorship program.

In August, SiriusXM and Pandora hosted “For the Love,” an interactive event through SiriusXM Cares, where hundreds of kids from the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Queens learned about the history of hip-hop at the culmination of their summer youth employment program. Hughey’s company, in partnership with Cricket Wireless, presented the Boys & Girls Club with a $20,000 check, and legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan served as musical headliners.

“We’re serious about the community, and we touch the community in various ways,” Hughey said

HBCU Homecoming Events Continue

In case you missed The HBCU PopOut, there are still opportunities to join the homecoming fun:

  • On Oct. 26, AUC students, staff and faculty can attend the Target Beyond Brilliance Fashion Mixer Powered by SiriusXM and Pandora ahead of the annual HBCU Fashion Show, showcasing Target’s Black-owned or -designed fashion brands, beauty and haircare brand giveaways, and food hosted by Black-owned eateries.
  • Ambré’s interview and performance will air as a takeover on Pandora’s HBCU Dream to Be station, debuting Nov. 3.
  • SiriusXM listeners will also hear the performance on SiriusXM’s The Heat (ch. 46) Nov. 6.

“We’re really intentional about making sure we’re connecting the experience wholistically because we know we are not a monolith. Our experiences vary and we are so multifaceted,” Hughey said, “so anytime we can connect the dots on all of those pieces, we are doing good.”

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