I gave a talk at Odd Salon NYC. The topic was J.R. Brinkley, a medical charlatan and a radio broadcast pioneer who built the strongest broadcast station in history to blanket the US and beyond with faulty medical advice, peddle his snake oil remedies, and advertise his goat gland implant surgery.
Brinkley pioneered the modern radio broadcast, popularized country music, and single-handedly wrote the playbook for mass media politics with his failed run for governor of Kansas. Eventually, he got his comeuppance on a day in court, after being revealed as a fraud by his arch-nemesis Morris Fishbein, the editor of the Jourmal of the American Medical Association. Plenty of germane lessons for today in this tale from nearly a century ago.
If you want to learn more about J.R. Brinkley’s story, I recommend these sources:
- Charlatan, book by Brock Pope (2008).
- Nuts!, documentary by Penny Lane (2016).