Friday, January 06, 2006

The Goats of KFKB

Here is another carny from the great history of radio. Clement Wood wrote a book titled "The Life of a Man" It's a biography of John Romulus Brinkley. He was born July 8, 1885, the only son of country physician John Richard Brinkley and his wife, Candace. An orphan by the age of ten, he was reared by an aunt and had a rather haphazard elementary school education. After a rather nomadic life as a railroad telegrapher he attended Eclectic Medical College, but never graduated. Read more here.

He was however, able to practice as an electrician in Arkansas with an undergraduate license and managed to acquire several fake diplomas while there. [I get emails for those all the time] Using a fake medical degree in Kansas in 1917 he began to transplant the testicles of goats into his aging customers with the promise of sexual rejuvenation. This is some of the most brazen medical quackery I have ever heard about ever. Desperate stupid midwesterners actually paid him to do this to them. [red state]

Brinkley had theorized that by transplanting the testicles of a goat into the male scrotum, it would renew a male patients vigor and restore a healthy sex drive. Below is a quote from this nutbar:

"So far as I know, I was the first man that ever did this operation of taking the goat testicle and putting it in the man's testicle. The glands of a three weeks old male goat are laid upon the non-functioning glands of a man, within twenty minutes of the time they are removed from the goat. In some cases I open the human gland and lay the tissue of the goat within the human gland. ... I find that after being properly connected these goat glands do actually feed, grow into, and become absorbed by the human glands, and the man is renewed in his physical and mental vigor."
Because of this, he became financially successful and he was able to amass enough capital to build and operate one of the first radio stations in Milford Kansas, 1100 KFKB-AM. the calls stand for Kansas First, Kansas Best. KFKB was almost as eccentric as Brinkley himself broadcasting music, lectures from professors at a nearby college, live banjo players, yodelers, and French language instruction. Clip here courtesy of WFMU.

Interspersed with this entertaining programing were ads for Brinkley's own home-brewed remedies. The local medical community organized and formed a vocal opposition to his advertisements. Ultimately both his medical and radio licenses were revoked. More here.

It was then that he turned to politics. Conducting a vigorous write in campaign for governor in 1930. His popularity was such that when the election rolled around, the major party candidates were panicked, for Brinkley appeared to have a legitimate shot at winning. They saved themselves by exploiting small legal technicality. A Kansas law stipulated that a write-in candidate's name must be written on the ballot by voters exactly as it appears on the official entry papers. When the counting was completed, Brinkley had over 183,000 votes, but at least 10,000 additional votes were disallowed due to various minor discrepancies in spelling, such as the omission of Brinkley's middle initial.

After two subsequent unsuccessful attempts for the office, he shifted his headquarters of operation to Del Rio, Texas, and built what would become radio station 840 XERA-AM in Villa Acuna, Coahuila. He shifted his specialty from testicle implants to the prostate gland implants, and Mercurochrome injections. Mercurochrome contains mercury which is poisonous, harming the brain, the kidneys, etc.

The reason the Clement Wood wrote a biography about John R. Brinkley is that he paid her $5000 to do so. Most of the book is fiction of course even contradicting Brinkley's own statements regarding himself. The parts about growing up in a log cabin, false. The parts about goats, true. In the end under pressure from the US government, Mexican officials closed down XER-AM's transmitter. He was forced to declare bankruptcy. In 1941, Brinkley had a series of heart attacks, and his leg required amputation. During his recuperation, Postal Inspectors charged Brinkley with mail fraud. He died before the case went to trial. More on XERA here.


  1. I'm from New York, but your comments on Kansas being a red state during the time of Dr. Brinkley are inaccurate. Kansas voted for Woodrow Wilson, a democrat, in 1916.

  2. Hello, I am Jose Fritz. We must not have met before. Be advised, I am very sarcastic.