John R. Brinkley and the Origin of the Radio Station broadcasting from Del Rio, Texas
San José State University

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Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
& Tornado Alley
USA

John R. Brinkley and the Origin of the Radio
Station broadcasting from Del Rio, Texas

Most of us older folks remember listening to a radio station out Del Rio, Texas that specialized in country music and outrageous religious artifacts such as "plastic glow-in-the-dark Jesuses for your dash board." The origin of this station quite surprising to say the least.

There was a man named John Romulus Brinkley who started practicing medicine in a little town in Kansas called Milford. Sometime around 1920 he came up with the idea the transplanting of goat testicles into men suffering from impotence, infertility or general lack of energy would solve their problems. His procedure wasn't really any attempt at transplanting; it was just the insertion of a slice of goat testicle involving a token bit of surgery. Nevertheless the placebo effect produced satisfied customers and Brinkley started making a lot of money. He then built the most powerful radio broadcasting station in the world there in Milford, Kansas to advertise his practice. By the end of the 1920's he became the target of the American Medical Association to put him out of business. They could not stop his medical practice but they got his radio station license withdrawn by the Federal Communication Commission.

Seeing that his opponents were trying to destroy him using government officials he decided to run for governor of Kansas in 1930. It was too late to get his name on the ballot so he had to run a campaign as a write-in candidate. Brinkley used an airplane and a sound truck to campaign around the state. He actually won that election but the state attorney general invalidated any write-ins that were not exactly "J.R. Brinkley" even ones that were "John R. Brinkley." Brinkley did not contest the count. He really did not want a job that only paid twelve thousand dollars per year. He had showed politicians his popularity and he felt that was enough to keep them from targeting him.

Brinkley then had an even more powerful radio station built in Mexico where it was outside of FCC control. However Brinkley wanted to live in Texas where he could practice medicine so he located in Del Rio, Texas. He sent his broadcasts to his station via a telephone line. His opponents then got passed a law in Congress prohibiting sending broadcasts from the U.S. out of the country by telephone line for rebroadcasting to the U.S. Brinkley found his way around this by recording his broadcasts and sending the recordings to his station in Mexico.

Brinkley finally met his downfall when he sued a magazine editor for a piece published calling Brinkley a fraud. The trial exposed fraudulences of Brinkley's practices which led to suits against him by former patients and these suits bankrupted him. Mexico then confiscated his radio station and started its own broadcasts.


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