Dr. John R. Brinkley

Feeling Much Better

Mar 27, 2020
teemus08 / Wikimedia Commons

Take that, you hucksters!  This month, as I thought about trying to come up with something remotely scintillating to say about BORDER RADIO, I had trouble generating much enthusiasm.

Don’t get me wrong:  my problem wasn’t because of the book.  BORDER RADIO is a great read—and certainly a perfect choice for a RADIO Readers book club pick.  The writing is fun and fluid and interesting and entertaining.  The information is perhaps fairly new to many of us, but it might also bring back long-lost memories of hearing Wolfman Jack in the middle of the night, most of us probably not even knowing or wanting to know much about where he was broadcasting from.  We just enjoyed listening to him talk and play music.

The information about Dr. Brinkley, the goat gland man, and other hucksters may have lurked in the back of our memories too—especially if we were from Kansas. Learning about Brinkley’s weird science is both laughable and horrible at the same time.

What Are We EVEN Talking About?

Mar 25, 2020
Wikimedia Commons

This is PJ Pronger from Amarillo with an HPPR Radio Readers BookByte. The third and final selection for this season is “Border Radio” by Gene Fowler and Bill Crawford. Subtitled, “Quacks, yodelers, pitchmen, psychics, and other amazing broadcasters of the American airwaves”, this breezy and easy-reading book focuses on the years in radio broadcasting when people were beginning to see huge commercial potential in it, but regulation was behind the curve.

Glandular

Mar 11, 2020
Kansas Memory / Kansas Historical Society

“Border Radio” starts with Dr. John Romulus Brinkley. Brinkley pretty much gave birth to border radio. He is very much a Kansas character, starting his world-renowned clinic and his first radio station in Milford, Kansas.

In 1917, long before Viagra was even a twinkle in some researcher’s test tube and advertiser’s joy, Dr. J. R. Brinkley let the world know about his goat-gland proposition in which he placed slivers of Billy goat gonads into human scrotums. For that restorative operation he was known by some as “the Kansas Ponce de Leon” and by others as a “loquacious purveyor of goat giblets.”