It wasn't until his first trip out of Arkansas as a 16-year-old that Huckabee realized that not everyone acknowledged Jesus as their personal savior.
"I assumed that everyone had faith in the church, lived the same value system. It was shocking to me to find out that I was living in a very protected and different kind of a world," he said in the interview.
Huckabee graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia in just over two years, magna cum laude. At the same time, he worked on-air at local radio station KVRC and pastored a Baptist congregation on weekends. "He had a great sense of humor that came out on the radio, in his sermons, and in the dorm room with the guys," says college roommate Rick Caldwell, who is on leave from his business to work with the Huckabee campaign.
In college, Huckabee began a lifelong practice of reading a chapter in Proverbs every day. "There are 31 chapters, and you can read through the whole book every month. It's a great source of wisdom and principles of life that are very valuable," he says. That's not just a casual goal, notes his wife, Janet. "If it's the 22nd of the month, he's on Chapter 22."
After attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth for a year, Huckabee moved to Dallas to be director of communications for James Robison, an evangelical leader who helped broker Evangelicals' support for Ronald Reagan's presidential bid in 1980.
By the time Huckabee returned to Arkansas in 1980 to preach at the Immanuel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, he was a skilled communicator. At age 21, Huckabee was directing a faith-based advertising agency, including producing television programs. He set up a 24-hour broadcast ministry and, by 1984, was hosting a TV show. When he moved to the Beech Street First Baptist Church in Texarkana, he did the same.