Doc Brinkley, Goat Gland Doctor

(Deb) Well one of the reasons that we got to thinking about the incredible life of Doc Brinkley, and again another Robert Redford connection, he’s just on my mind today, the recent Sundance Film Festival, which is another really big deal. Robert Redford I guess, started Sundance, didn’t he? So, one of the films that was being screened is the story of Doc Brinkley. And it is fittingly called “Nuts.” And our friend from Topeka, Jim Reardon was involved with that. I think he actually appears in the film. He had written a project, I guess a book manuscript on Brinkley years ago and that didn’t get published, but articles were published from it. And then he was contacted by a film maker in New York City and so that’s how the story just kind of mushroomed. And that’s how the movie “Nuts” got made. (Frank) Yea, Doc Brinkley really was something else. And you know he understood the power of radio early on. And of course he had a radio station in Kansas. And that was what really advertised a lot of what he did. And later on he lost that radio station, but then of course went to Mexico and right across the border and started XERF. And those of you that are Wolfman Jack fans know that’s where Wolfman Jack made his fame. Anyway XERF was like a million watts. Even fences in Texas were broadcasting the radio station. (Deb) You can’t make this up. (Frank) No, no. But the guy got away with it. And he became fabulously wealthy. (Deb) And very well known. Incredibly well known. But yea, he basically transforms media marketing, politics, and I don’t know if I’m giving anything away or not, but he kinda creates that whole… (Frank) Yea. (Deb) I don’t know if people were really thinking about it. Of course, radio was in its infancy then too. (Frank) Yes. In later years it’s one of the reasons Alf Landon decided to start buying radio stations. (Deb) Lasting impact. (Frank) Yes. (Deb) Take a look at the incredible life of Doc Brinkley. (Frank) John Brinkley took the shortcut to becoming a doctor and bought his medical degree from a diploma mill. When his controversial practice of transplanting goat glands into people gained notoriety, he was not allowed to practice medicine in Kansas. Not easily dissuaded, Brinkley launched a bid to become the Governor of Kansas, a political position that would enable him to appoint his own members to the medical board and thus regain his right to practice medicine in the state. He effectively used his radio station, KFKB, to help his campaign. Brinkley promised free textbooks, lower taxes, the usual campaign buzzwords. He appealed to the immigrant vote by putting German and Swedish-speaking people on the air at KFKB. He enlisted a pilot with his own plane to deliver Brinkley in grand style at his campaign rallies. Brinkley proved adept at grabbing publicity and reportedly sent goat to a news writer who challenged his credentials. Running as a write-in Independent, Brinkley lost the governor’s race to Harry Woodring, becoming a colorful footnote in the politics of Kansas.