An unabashedly liberal radio host for several stations across western Massachusetts, Rachel Maddow quickly rose up the ranks, eventually becoming a cable news pundit and host of her own top-rated primetime show on MSNBC. From an early age, Maddow was interested in civic issues and politics, and later became the first openly gay American to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University in 1995. Although she had no prior broadcasting experience, Maddow auditioned on a whim in 1999, winning a disc jockey spot at a local radio station. The intelligent and well-versed Maddow soon parlayed that into hosting positions on other programs. In 2004, she landed a short-lived hosting job with the liberal radio network Air America, which later awarded her the self-titled "Rachel Maddow Show" in 2005. It was not long before cable television took notice, leading to Maddow offering up her opinions on a variety of news programs and later guest-hosting "The Countdown with Keith Olbermann" (MSNBC, 2003- ). Filling in for Olbermann impressed the network enough to give the commentator her own platform, "The Rachel Maddow Show" (MSNBC, 2008-12), which proved to be an immediate ratings bonanza, cementing Maddow's position as one of the country's brightest liberal journalists.