KFKB was one of the first radio stations in Kansas, operating under the tagline of “Kansas’ First, Kansas’ Best. It was founded in 1923 in Milford by a wealthy doctor named Dr. John R. Brinkley, who erected the transmitter beside his clinic and used the time between programs to advertise for his medical services.
“Erected” is a word that was carefully chosen, because Brinkley was one of America’s first specialists in male performance enhancement.
Brinkley had gotten his start in 1913 as an “electro-medic” doctor, who provided short-term boosts to male performance using direct injection of medicine. He really came into his own in 1917, when he discovered a method of surgically enhancing performance through testicular surgery. Specifically, transplanting testes from young goats into the scrotums of eager victims. Er, patients. No, let’s go with victims.
Brinkley, after all, had quickly dropped out of an unaccredited medical college in 1908 before he realized that colored water, injected into the buttocks of a credulous man, could use the placebo effect to correct impotence. Sometimes, that is, when the reason was psychological. Feeling pressure mounting from unsatisfied customers, he’d moved to Kansas, paid $100 for a degree from a diploma mill, and set up shop as a performance enhancement specialist.
In 1917, a fateful conversation occurred between Brinkley and local farmer Bill Stittsworth resulted in Stittsworth cracking a joke about his randy goats. That gave Brinkley the idea for the scrotal surgery, and Stittsworth… well, he trusted his doctor. He trusted him so much that two weeks after the bandages came off, he reported that he was much, er, healthier than he’d been in years.
Brinkley, using the testimonial, conducted more goat surgeries. He had so many pleased patients that he traveled to Los Angeles and Chicago, ingratiating himself with celebrities and performing surgeries for prominent community leaders. He even sponsored a little league team, the Brinkley Goats.
That led to the radio station. Between nationally transmitted programs and his own fame, the station was a hit. He set up his own shows, promoting highly dubious medicines. Brinkley continued to grow in popularity throughout the state…
…Until 1930, when the Federal Radio Commission revoked his radio station’s license and the Kansas Medical Board pulled his license to practice medicine in the state.
A man like Brinkley wasn’t about to just give up. Discovering that the Governor could reinstate his medical license, Brinkley immediately began petitioning.
Not petitioning the Governor; petitioning for votes. Having missed the cutoff date to be added onto the ballot, he attempted to promote himself as a potential write-in option.
With less than two months to campaign, no ballot appearance and no party affiliation, Brinkley might have seemed to have no chance. But he was famous, and he promised men virility… as well as lower taxes. He also framed himself as an outsider being kept down by the two parties in power. In the election he came in third… but it was a close race. The Democrat won with 35% of the vote, the Republican came in second with 34.9%, and Brinkley ended with 29.5% of the 1930 Kansas gubernatorial votes having his name written upon them.
The power of goat glands had pushed him to the edge of victory… and, really, it pushed him over. The state attorney general, a Democrat pulling for the eventual winner, issued a pre-emptive ruling just before the election, stating that votes for Brinkley needed to be spelled “J.R. Brinkley” and only “J.R. Brinkley”… that misspellings of the last name, using the full first name of John or leaving out the R. would all invalidate the votes. In the end, there were enough votes declared invalid that Brinkley went from conclusively winning to coming in third.
If only goats had been known for their spelling ability instead….
Question of the night: Pick a competition… who would you nominate for G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all time)? Try not to name someone already mentioned.