As I switch channels between FOX News and MSNBC I'm finding my eyes fixing on my own name on television: Dr. Drew. The reason is not because my story about young Obama's Marxist ideology has hit the mainstream media, it is because Dr. Drew Pinsky has a new show on HLN.
Accordingly, I have an odd story to tell about how Dr. Drew Pinsky started referring to himself as Dr. Drew and not Dr. Pinsky back when he was a co-host of the seedy Loveline radio talk show here in Southern California. As you may know, Loveline went national in 1995. The television version was launched on MTV in 1996 where it was hosted by Dr. Pinsky and Adam Carolla.
Above all, I think it is time to claim my status not only as the "real" Dr. Drew, but as the "first" Dr. Drew.
The whole "Dr. Drew" concept started when I was running for office in my home town of Santa Clarita between 1990 and 1992. I bought billboard space to promote the Dr. Drew name. I knew it was considered tacky to call myself Dr. Drew, but no one else in the race could make that claim, I liked the alliteration, and as a poor white guy with no money - it was all I had to appeal to the voter's best interests.
My memory is that these billboards seemed to have a tangible impact on the culture around me even as they did me next to no good at all in securing a spot as an elected official representing the interests of my home town.
In the worst consequence, some of the kids at Canyon HS - where my brother taught biology - started scratching the name DREW into the surfaces of their school lockers and using the name DREW as a bizarre form of graffitti. In an era where gangs were starting to mark-up my hometown, it was ironic to see the DREW name competing with street gangs.
I can report with certainty that Dr. Drew Pinsky was near enough to me in terms of geography and politics to perhaps benefit from the modest "Dr. Drew" visibility campaign taking place in Santa Clarita, CA. Pinsky, after all, was born in near by Pasadena, California.
He is a year younger than me. He majored in biology at Amherst College and graduated in 1980. He came back to CA to earned his M.D. at USC's School of Medicine in 1984. He later became chief resident at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena before moving into private practice.
Loveline began in 1983 as a Sunday night dating and relationships segment on Los Angeles radio station KROQ. As Loveline developed the show began referring to him informally as "Dr. Drew". I don't have the timing exactly right, but my memory is that I didn't start hearing anything about a "Dr. Drew" on the radio until after my modest media buys in the Santa Clarita area. The timing for me being the original Dr. Drew seems about right since it was only in February 1992 that Loveline expanded from Sunday nights to five nights a week.
Around the same time, I noticed a second Dr. Drew imitator, in the form of the rapper, Dr. Dre. As you may know, Dr. Dre made solo debut, The Chronic, in 1992 and and released it under Death Row Records. He became one of the best-selling American performing artists of 1993. My story is that I never noticed anyone combining Dr. with the words Dre or Drew until after my little media campaign hit the Southern California area.
I'm not 100% sure, but I've always thought that Dr. Pinsky stumbled on the seeming popularity of the Dr. Drew advertising campaign and realized it was a useful way to build a brand identity without having to associate his own "Pinsky" name with a sleazy, sex-talk radio show. Now, however, I think people are more likely to mistake me for him than the other way around. Nevertheless, I think I have a case for saying that I was the first to promote the Dr. Drew name in the media markets he and I shared in the early 1990s.
John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.
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