Rachel Maddow was born on April 1, 1973 in Castro Valley, California. In 2005, Air America offered her her own liberal political radio show, The Rachel Maddow Show. In January 2008, Maddow signed an exclusive contract with MSNBC as the broadcasting station’s political analyst. That September the launch of her TV show, also called The Rachel Maddow Show, marked MSNBC’s most successful show debut to date.
Political journalist and TV/radio host Rachel Maddow was born on April 1, 1973 in Castro Valley, California, to an attorney, Robert, and a school administrator, Elaine. Maddow showed an interest in journalism at an early age. She started reading the newspaper when she was only seven, concluding her cover-to-cover reading sessions with pertinent questions about what she had read.
As a teen, Maddow competed on the swimming, volleyball and basketball teams at Castro Valley High School, but a sports injury to her shoulder led her to abandon sports. Maddow devoted the opening in her schedule to volunteer at a local AIDS clinic. Maddow’s conservative parents had just recently found out that she was gay. Fearing their objection, Maddow opted not to tell them about her volunteer work.
In 1994, Maddow received a bachelor's degree in public policy from Stanford University. After graduation she moved to San Francisco and became an activist for the AIDS organization ACT UP. Her work earned her a Rhodes Scholarship, making Maddow the first openly gay U.S. resident to win the award. Maddow applied her scholarship toward attending Oxford University, where she obtained her doctorate in political science.
In 1999 Maddow landed a job as co-host on WRNX Radio's The Dave in the Morning Show. Her next job was a two-year stint as host of WRSI's morning show Big Breakfast. In 2004 she auditioned for Air America, a newly founded liberal radio network, and held a co-host position until the show was cancelled in 2005. The cancellation turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Maddow, when Air America offered her her own liberal political radio show, The Rachel Maddow Show. Although the radio show has changed time slots several times, dedicated listeners have continued to tune in, making the nationally syndicated show one of Air America’s highest-rated programs.
In 2006 Maddow managed to parlay her radio career into cable television when she became a regular on the MSNBC show The Situation with Tucker Carlson. She was also a recurring guest on CNN’s Paula Zahn Now show during the 2006 midterm elections.
In January 2008, Maddow signed an exclusive contract with MSNBC as the broadcasting station’s political analyst. That September the launch of her nightly cable television program, also called The Rachel Maddow Show, marked MSNBC’s most successful show debut to date. Since its inception the show has boosted MSNBC’s ratings and received a number of awards, including the Television Critics Association award for "Outstanding Achievement in News and Television" and a 2010 GLAAD Award. Maddow herself has also been honored numerous times for her excellence in journalism; the Washington Post named her "Breakout Star of 2008." In 2010 she won a Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award for her documentary The Assassination of Dr. Tiller. The documentary also earned her a 2011 Gracie Award.
Maddow came out about her homosexuality when she was a 17-year-old freshman at Stanford. She met her partner, artist Susan Mikula, when Maddow was working odd jobs in Massachusetts while finishing her dissertation. In 1999 the pair moved into an old farmhouse in rural Massachusetts. In recent years, Maddow has divided her time between her homes in New York and in Massachusetts, where she has continued to reside with her girlfriend Susan and the couple's Labrador retriever.
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