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Rachel Anne Maddow (born April 1, 1973) is an American radio personality, television host, and political commentator. Her syndicated talk radio program, The Rachel Maddow Show, airs on Air America Radio. Maddow also hosts a nightly television show, The Rachel Maddow Show, on MSNBC. She was also a guest host of Countdown with Keith Olbermann and other MSNBC shows. Maddow is the first openly gay anchor to be hired to host a prime-time news program in the United States.

Early life and education

Maddow was born in Castro Valleymarker, Californiamarker to Robert B. "Bob" Maddow, a former Air Force captain and an attorney for the East Bay Municipal Utility Districtmarker, and Elaine Maddow (née Gosse), a school program administrator from Newfoundlandmarker, Canadamarker. She has one older brother, David. Maddow was raised a strict Roman Catholic in a community that her mother has described as "very conservative." Maddow always excelled in academics and athletics. Referencing John Hughes films, she describes herself in high school as "a cross between the jock and the antisocial girl."

A graduate of Castro Valley High Schoolmarker in Castro Valley, Maddow earned a degree in public policy from Stanford Universitymarker in 1994. At graduation she was awarded the John Gardner Fellowship. She was also the recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship and began her postgraduate study in 1995 at Lincoln Collegemarker, Oxfordmarker. In 2001, she completed her Doctor of Philosophy degree (styled a DPhil) in politics from Oxford University. Her doctoral thesis is titled HIV/AIDS and Health Care Reform in British and American Prisons. She was the first openly gay American to win a Rhodes scholarship.

Radio career

Maddow's first radio hosting job was at WRNXmarker (100.9 FM) in Holyoke, Massachusettsmarker. The station held a contest for a new on-air personality and Maddow won. She was hired to co-host WRNX's then premier morning show, The Dave in the Morning Show. She later went on to host Big Breakfast on WRSImarker, in Northampton, Massachusettsmarker, for two years. She left the show to join the newly-created Air America in March 2004. There she hosted Unfiltered along with Chuck D (of the hip-hop group Public Enemy) and Lizz Winstead (co-creator of The Daily Show) until its cancellation in March 2005. Two weeks later, in April 2005, her own two-hour-long program, The Rachel Maddow Show, began airing; it was expanded to three hours in March 2008. It was broadcast live from New York from 6 to 9 p.m. ET on weekdays, with David Bender filling in the third hour for the call-in section when Maddow was on TV assignment. In September 2008 the show returned to a two-hour format as Maddow began her nightly MSNBC television program. In February 2009, after renewing her contract with Air America, Maddow returned to a one hour, 5 a.m. morning slot.

Television career

In June 2005 Maddow became a regular panelist on MSNBC's Tucker. During and after the November 2006 election, she was a frequent guest on CNN's Paula Zahn Now. In January 2008, Maddow was given the position of MSNBC political analyst and was a regular panelist on MSNBC's Race for the White House with David Gregory and MSNBC's election coverage, as well as a frequent contributor on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

In April 2008, Maddow was the substitute host for Countdown with Keith Olbermann, her first time hosting a program on MSNBC. Maddow described herself on air as "nervous." Keith Olbermann complimented her work and she was brought back to host "Countdown" in May 2008. The day she hosted was the highest rated news program in the key 25–54 year old demographic. For her success, Olbermann awarded Maddow the 3rd ranking in his regular segment, "World's Best Persons" on the following Monday, calling her "World's Best Pinch-Hitter." Maddow filled in again on Countdown for eight-and-a-half broadcasts while Olbermann was on vacation in July 2008 (including the latter half of the July 21 show). Maddow has also filled in for David Gregory as host of Race for the White House.

MSNBC announced in August 2008 that The Rachel Maddow Show would replace Verdict with Dan Abrams in the channel's 9PM ET time slot beginning September 2008. Since its debut the show has topped Countdown as the highest rated show on MSNBC on several occasions. After being on air for a little over a month, Maddow's program doubled the audience for MSNBC's 9PM hour. Associated Press columnist David Bauder calls her "[Keith] Olbermann's political soul mate" and refers to the Olbermann/Maddow shows as a "liberal two-hour block". Maddow describes herself as more nuanced, saying in one interview that she is a "national security liberal" and in another that she is not "a partisan" and objects to being typecast. The New York Times called her a "defense policy wonk" who is currently writing a book on the role of the military in postwar American politics. During the 2008 presidential election Maddow did not formally support any candidate. Concerning Barack Obama's candidacy, Maddow said, "I have never and still don't think of myself as an Obama supporter, either professionally or actually." Maddow's ratings peaked during the 2008 presidential election and since have fallen from an average 1.9 million viewers to 1.1 million viewers in March 2009, part of a general decline in cable news ratings since that point. However, for the first time in the more than ten years MSNBC has been on the air the network has moved ahead of CNN in primetime and in the key 25-54 year old demographic, in large part due to Maddow taking over the 9pm Monday through Friday spot where she now regularly beats Larry King in the key demo and often in overall ratings.

Personal life

Maddow lives in Manhattanmarker and rural western Massachusettsmarker with her partner, artist Susan Mikula. The couple met in 1999, when Mikula hired Maddow, who was then working on her doctoral dissertation, to do yard work at her home. She does not own a television set, but reportedly is committed to getting one so that Mikula can watch her show. As of 2009, Maddow and Mikula do not plan to marry, though living in Massachusetts gives them the option.

Honors and awards

  • Maddow was named in Out magazine's "Out 100" list of the "gay men and women who moved culture" in 2008.
  • Maddow was voted "Lesbian/Bi Woman of the Year (American)" in AfterEllen's 2008 Visibility Awards.
  • Maddow won a Gracie Award in 2009, presented by the American Women in Radio and Television.
  • Also in 2009, Maddow was nominated for GLAAD's 20th Annual Media Awards for a segment of her MSNBC show, "Rick Warren, Change To Believe In?", in the Outstanding TV Journalism Segment category.
  • On March 28, 2009, Maddow received a Proclamation of Honor from the California State Senate, presented in San Francisco by California State Senator Mark Leno.
  • In April 2009 she was named in Out magazine's Annual Power 50 List, landing at number 4.
  • Maddow placed no.6 in the "2009 Hot 100" list (May 11, 2009) and no.3 in their "2009 Hot 100: Out Women" version.
  • Maddow is included on a list of openly gay media professionals in The Advocate's "Forty under 40" issue of June/July 2009.
  • In June 2009, Maddow's MSNBC show was the only cable news show nominated for a Television Critics Association award in the Outstanding Achievement in News and Information category.


  1. Margot Adler, Rachel Maddow: Sassy, Acerbic And — Yes — Liberal,, All Things Considered, October 23, 2008
  2. In

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