Listen: https://www.americathebizarre.com/listen/episode/23b6472f/33-the-goat-nut-doctor-part-2 In LA, John had learned about the new world of radio and knew that radio was the way to go to expand his business. He could use the radio to entertain his patients and advertise his operation. So when he got back to Kansas, he built a brick building near the hospital to be used as a radio station with the call letters “KFKB” for “Kansas First, Kansas Best” or “Kansas Folks Know Best” and the station’s slogan was “the Sunshine Station from the Heart of the Nation.” KFKB started broadcasting in September 1923 and was the fourth commercial station in the country. John didn’t want the station to air any advertisements or recordings, they would only have live
entertainment. They aired preachers, country music, poetry reading, weather, market news, health talks, etc, and John often hosted himself. The station gained a lot of rural farming listeners by airing at times that worked for farming families and using language that they could easily understand. When talking about his goat gland surgery, he said “Note the difference between the stallion and the gelding. The stallion stands erect, neck arched, mane flowing, champing at the bit, stamping the ground, seeking the female while the gelding stands around, half asleep, going into action when goaded, cowardly, listless, with no interest in anything. Men, don’t let this happen to you. Remember, a man is as old as his glands.” Men started coming to John’s hospital from all over the world seeking out the goat gonad surgery and the hospital was shipping in an average of 40 goats per week. Listeners to the radio show started writing him letters asking for his medical advice. There are some estimates that received as many as 50,000 letters per day. The post office in Milford had to be upgraded to handle all the mail. John decided to start a daily radio program called Medical Question Box. Listeners would write to John about their symptoms and John would go over a handful of them before going on air. He would then read out the symptoms of the listener on air and prescribed the listener a prescription and told them and whoever else had similar symptoms to order the drugs from his drug store in Milford. John would do the Medical Question Box as 3 hour segments as many as two to three times daily. Pharmacists in the area started to become very upset that all of their business was now going to John Brinkley. So John created the Brinkley Pharmaceutical Association that pharmacists could join and John’s listeners would be encouraged to get their prescriptions filled by them as well as by John’s own drugstore. John also noticed that some of the drug names were confusing some of the listeners, so he numbered all of the pharmaceuticals. So when he would prescribe a drug, he would just call it drug 62 or 34 and any Brinkley Pharmaceutical Association pharmacist would have a list of the numbered drugs and would be able to fill the prescription. The pharmacists gave John $1 for every prescription they sold. It's estimated that John made between $400,000 and $750,000 annually from his prescription business while still completing about 50 goat gonad operations a week, which would’ve added up to $1.5 million a year. John bought custom-made $7,000 Lincoln cars with gold-plated hub caps and 16 cylinder Cadillacs. One of the cadillacs had 13 gold plates with Dr. Brinkley or JRB written on them. John also bought a yacht and when the Kansas governor named him a Kansas Navy admiral, he bought the proper admiral uniform and would wear it on his yacht while also carrying a sword. John also really loved diamonds and he wore an eleven carat diamond on his right hand, a fourteen carat diamond on his left hand, had a diamond tie pin that was twenty four carats, and a diamond studded tie clasp. In April, 1930, Morris Fishbein, the editor of the American Medical Association’s journal, wrote an editorial that called John “a charlatan of the rankest sort” and begged the Federal Radio Commission to stop John from spreading medical misinformation. Around the same time, the Kansas City Star newspaper started to put together a series of articles on John. The second article of the series was all about the patients that were extremely dissatisfied with the goat gonad surgery. Some experts believed that patients were being given a shot of vitamins and drugs that made the men feel more manly and robust, but they would go back to feeling normal as soon as the vitamins wore off. Other stories told of men that had gotten terrible infections from the surgery and were never the same again.
The newspaper also published death certificates of patients that had died at John’s hospital or had died shortly after leaving. Brinkley had signed all of these death certificates, but instead of listing any part of the surgery as the cause of death, John had written that they had died of appendicitis or old age,etc. Fishbein wrote another article calling John the epitome of quacks and that even though the AMA had over two thousand entries of charlatans and medical fakes in its files, John Brinkley was “the most dangerous because he is daring particularly because of his radio. No other quack owns a radio station.” After reading this article, the Kansas Medical Society officially condemned John and his practices and petitioned the Federal Radio Commission to stop KFKB from broadcasting. The AMA also started to receive complaints about Brinkley advertising his goat gonad surgery on the radio and they petitioned the Kansas Attorney General to revoke John’s medical license and radio license. The Kansas Medical Board then charged John with lying about his medical education in order to get his medical license in Kansas, committing felonies, drinking alcohol, diagnosing diseases and prescribing drugs over the radio, and advertising on the radio. While waiting for his trial for his medical license, the Federal Radio Commission announced that they would not renew KFKB’s radio license while they investigated KFKB on three charges: deviating from its assigned wave length, broadcasting obscene and indecent things; and his Medical Question Box answers were harmful to the public interest. John offered to stop doing the Medical Question Box on the radio if he could keep KFKB’s radio license. Despite the offer, the FRC voted to not renew his license indefinitely by concluding that KFKB was not serving the public interest. John was livid and blamed both the Kansas City Star newspaper and President Herbert Hoover for forcing the FRC to discontinue his radio license. He also said that the AMA bribed the FRC with thousands of dollars to reach their decision and he broadcast these accusations over the radio. Postal authorities started to looking into John and trying to determine if they should open a mail fraud case against him and at the same time, one of John’s patients brought a medical lawsuit against him, saying that the goat gonad operation had caused him great pain and the impairment of his health. John’s medical license trial started that July and the evidence against him was damning. After testimony was over, John invited the board to come to his hospital and watch him perform one of these goat gonad operations and the board agreed. Twelve doctors were appointed by the board and they were horrified by what they watched. They said there were no precautions taken when getting the gonads from the goats and there was a high risk of tetanus which made sense since a lot of John’s previous patients had died from tetanus. The doctors said that John also didn’t do anything to connect the new gonads to the men like giving them a blood supply or splicing nerves, he just put them into the patient’s scrotum and sewed him back up. When one of the doctor’s testified about the experience and was asked if the operation could have any effect on the patient, he said “not unless he introduced infection with it.” After this, the Kansas State Medical Board ruled to revoke his medical license after attributing 43 deaths due to his malpractice and found him guilty of immorality and unprofessional conduct. While talking to a friend about his woes on his Kansas radio and medical license, his friend said “Why the hell don’t you go back up there and get on your radio and become a candidate for governor. You can get
yourself elected and then you’ll be in control of the State Medical Board.” It was too late to petition to get his name on the ballot for Kansas governor, but he decided to go for it and run as a write-in candidate and officially announced his candidacy five days after his medical license had been revoked. His platform was to give retirement pensions, lower taxes, have free textbooks, and free medical services for the poor. He also ran on building recreational lakes in every county of the state of Kansas. His reasoning was that the evaporation from the lakes would create more rainfall, which would be better for the Kansas crops. John quickly gathered a huge following and had huge crowds at his rallies, sometimes with as many as 20,000 people. Fearing that John Brinkley had a real shot at winning the governorship, the Kansas Attorney general ruled that John’s name would have to be written exactly as he recorded it when he filed for candidacy, which meant that only votes that said “J.R. Brinkley” would count in his favor. If the vote said “John Brinkley” “Dr. Brinkley” etc, the votes would be tossed out. John stressed to his voters how important it was to write in his name correctly and even gave out thousands of pencils with “J.R. Brinkley” written on them. John received 30% of the votes and placed third in the election of governor, but all the candidates agreed that if the 50,000 ballots that had written in the wrong name for him would’ve counted, he would’ve easily won the governorship. KFKB officially went off air on February 21st, 1931 and in his farewell broadcast, John said the decision to not renew his license was “a blow to the doctrine of free speech.” John then hopped on a plane and flew to Mexico to sign a twenty year agreement to build a transmitter and broadcast a radio station from Villa Acuna, that is just across the Rio Grande River from Del Rio, Texas. KFKB had 5,000 watts of power while this new station, called XER, would have 50,000 watts, which would give his new station enough power to broadcast all over North America and even overtake strong stations that were broadcasting in the U.S. He returned to Kansas and sold KFKB to a life insurance company for $90,000. The Brinkley hospital stayed open and continued operations by other doctors that John had hired while John traveled between Mexico and Kansas. Brinkley remotely called into his station in Mexico and advertise the goat gonad surgery and to campaign for governor again in 1932 and 1934, though he lost both of those races as well. John decided to move to Del Rio, Texas to open up two new clinics for him to work in, one in Del Rio for prostate and goat gland surgeries, and one in San Juan for colon procedures. That way he could also broadcast in his new radio station. In 1932, the Mexican government agreed to let Brinkley up the station’s wattage to 150,000 watts and just months later, Brinkley upped it to one million watts which made XER the most power radio station in the world. His radio station signal could reach 17 countries and people were picking up the signal in their dental fillings, bedsprings, and barbed wire. Many russians tuned into to the station, which was now XERA, and the KGB used it to teach their spies English. Brinkley ran his radio station very similar to the one in Kansas by offering medical advice, preaching his religious teachings, and advertising prescriptions, many that he claimed would help men regain their sexual prowess. He also would sell airtime to advertisers at $1,700 and hour where they would try to sell products like “crazy water crystals” life insurance, and religious paraphernalia like autographed pictures of Jesus. In between Brinkley’s programs and the advertisers, the radio broadcasted up and coming country singers including Gene Autry, Jimmie Rodger, and the Carter Family, which helped launch their
careers and help country music become popular across the United States instead of just the Appalachian area. Johnny Cash actually heard June Carter sing with her family for the first time on XERA. Brinkley continued to get super rich. In 1936, he bought 16 acres and built a mansion on it where he had a stable for his dozen Cadillacs, a foaming fountain garden, exotic animals imported from the Galapagos Islands, and a swimming pool with a 10 foot diving towers and he owned three yachts. When Hitler and the Nazi party started to rise in Germany, Brinkley allowed Nazi sympathizers to come onto his radio station. Fritz Kuhn, who was known as the American Fuhrer, who we covered in episode 14, Nazis at Madison Square Garden, was invited by Brinkley to be on the show and he had Reverend Gerald B. Winrod on, who was a Wichita preacher that blamed all of the world’s problems on the Jews. Brinkley started to become very involved in the Nazi movement and would even talk about how much he loved Hitler. That pool that I mentioned he built; it was covered in swastika tiles. John also donated $5,000 to the Silver Shirts, an American fascist and Nazi sympathizer organization. Morris Fishbein wasn’t done with John Brinkley and in 1938 he published a two-part series he titled “Modern Medical Charlatans.” The expose went through John Brinkley’s whole career and documented several instances where John’s goat gland surgery either maimed or killed patients and repeatedly called Brinkley a quack. John Brinkley decided to sue Fishbein for libel. The trial was front page news. Several physicians testified that the goat-gland surgery was a fraud and that the medicinal concoctions that Brinkley sold were mostly just water and dye. When Brinkley was called to the witness stand, he couldn’t explain how his surgeries worked, probably because he sometimes changed it up everytime by either doing slices of gonads or whole gonads or even placing gonads in people’s abdomens, sometimes hollowing out a man’s own testicles and then sewing the goats testicles inside of the man’s testicles and then sewing it all up. Jurors ruled for Fishbein, all agreeing that Brinkley was a quack. After that, Brinkley was sued several times by previous patients for malpractice. The IRS also began investigating for tax fraud and the post office began investigating home for mail fraud and Brinkley had to declare bankruptcy in 1941. 1941 was the same year the Mexican government was receiving pressure from the United States to curb any Nazi sympathizers in their country and this included shutting down radio stations in Mexico that allowed the Nazi message to be broadcast. The United States and Mexico also reached an agreement on how much radio bandwidth should be allocated to each radio station and with both reasons, the Mexican government decided to shut down XERA. After he filed for bankruptcy and lost his radio station, John Brinkley suffered three heart attacks. The heart attacks left him with poor circulation that caused him to have a blood-clot and resulted in him having his leg amputated when it became infected with gangrene. Now bedridden, John Brinkley announced that he was now going to become a famous preacher, however he suffered another heart attack and died on May 26, 1942. John R. Brinkley’s last words were “If Dr. Fishbein goes to heave, I want to go the other way.” In the 1950’s, XER hired DJ Robert Weston Smith who called himself “Wolfman Jack” on the radio. Wolfman Jack started playing a new sound that was a blend of country, pop, and the electric blues that was called rock ‘n’ roll and in the same way that Brinkley made country music popular with XER,
Wolfman Jack made rock ‘n’ roll popular in America with XER. Sources: “Nuts!: A Questionable Cure for Impotence” by Evan Kindley “John R. Brinkley Got Rich On Glandular Gullibility” by Peter Carlson “Crafty Crooks & Conmen” by Nigel Blundell and Sue Blackhall “The Bizarre Careers of John R. Brinkley” by R. Alton Lee “Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam” by Pope Brock