30 Most Impactful TV Newsers of the Past 15 Years: Rachel Maddow

By A.J. Katz 

To mark the 15th anniversary of TVNewser this month, Adweek honored the 30 Most Impactful TV Newsers of the Past 15 Years, spotlighting the personalities and execs who were instrumental in the industry’s incredible decade-and-a-half evolution. TVNewser will be presenting expanded versions of each honoree’s interview.

Rachel Maddow

  • Job now: Host, The Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC
  • Job 15 years ago: Radio host, The Big Breakfast, WRSI

Adweek: What were you doing 15 years ago (back in January 2004)?

Maddow: I was working for a great local radio station in Northampton, Massachusetts —WRSI — hosting a morning drive show called The Big Breakfast.

What’s your favorite professional moment of the past 15 years, and why?  

One Friday night a few years ago, I was making a drink live at the end of the show for a segment we called the Cocktail Moment. The drink called for an egg white, but I accidentally dropped the yolk in, too—live on the air, with all the other ingredients already in the cocktail shaker! My partner, Susan, was in the studio that night, and she stage-whispered to me, ‘Scoop it out!’ Panicking, I grabbed the bar spoon, fished around and—what?!—ladled out the egg yolk intact. Which is completely impossible. I’ve never been able to do it again, ever. But that night it saved the f block.

Who have you learned the most from in your career? What did they teach you?

Andrea Mitchell. The biggest day-to-day challenges I have encountered in this job are all related: stamina, resilience, consistency, self-determination. Andrea is a North Star for every woman (and every dude!) in this business for all of these things.

What do you know now about the business that you didn’t know 15 years ago?

Yes, you can wear the same darn thing on TV every single night. No one really cares.