Reply All: #86 Man of the People
January 19, 2017 9:45 AM - Subscribe

A meet-cute where two men discover their shared childhood fascination with a local mansion and the strange widow who lives there. Turns out that the widow has a dark past--her husband was Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an eccentric genius and medical fraudster who built an empire in Depression-era America with a goat testicle impotence cure and a million watt radio station.
posted by radioamy (11 comments total)
I've heard this story before! I'm trying to remember the context - I think it was either the history of the radio or the history of country/American music. The earlier story I heard also had other border blasters being discussed, but it was the same sort of idea - populist and pro-facist messaging, scams, and country music.

(this also explained the term Mexican radio, and the signal strength issue finally explained why I used to be able to hear the local latin station over the phone lines and through random PA systems near where I grew up)

The widow angle was new, though - and the brief tour inside the home was interesting, too. It's also just such a weird story that I didn't mind hearing it again.
posted by dinty_moore at 11:49 AM on January 19, 2017

I've heard this story before! I'm trying to remember the context

The recent election?
posted by maxsparber at 12:53 PM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]


Maybe this is an askme, because it I do remember it being a little longer and getting even more fascinating as it went on.

Though I did think about the mypillow guy apparently trying to run for governor of Minnesota during this podcast.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:01 PM on January 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

This was a very good episode. Even if it wasn't Very Timely it's still an interesting story that I probably never would have heard otherwise.
posted by Tevin at 1:53 PM on January 19, 2017

What a great episode. The description of the goat gland surgery astonished me. I would've thought that such a procedure would be invariably fatal - having large chunks of dead animal tissue necrotizing in the body cavity! Horrific.

I was kind of hoping they wouldn't mention Trump. Just leave it as a very conspicuous parallel.
posted by Clandestine Outlawry at 11:15 AM on January 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I tried to listen to this one today (1/20) but had to stop, too much to handle right now.
posted by skewed at 2:08 PM on January 20, 2017

the mypillow guy

I've been advertised to by this guy at the gym for weeks but was unaware of his larger story until I saw that reference above.

First of all, he's now saying he's not running for governor.

Meanwhile, in January My Pillow lost Better Business Bureau accreditation because they appear to have a permanent two for the price of one offer, which obscures the actual price of the product.

Commentary on the commercial from the guy in the next locker at the gym: "That's his pillow. How's that supposed to help me?"

If you're in the market for a pillow, I can heartily endorse the Xtreme Comforts shredded memory foam pillow, recommended by The Sweethome.
posted by chrchr at 9:11 AM on January 21, 2017

With the mypillow guy - what really struck me about him specifically (as opposed to the many other facist wannabes out there), is that's his current business model, too. Most of his ads are designed to target insomniacs. Anyone who has dealt with insomnia can sympathize with the wish for a simple fix that would just let them finally go to sleep. A pillow just seems so easy - this guy had the same problem*, and it worked for him. It's also striking people when their judgment is impaired by exhaustion. What convinces people to buy mypillows despite a lot of evidence to the contrary is the same type of logic that makes people believe in Trump despite him not having a consistent message other than hate - it would be just so nice if there was a simple fix that they want to believe.

*Note: what was causing the mypillow guy's insomnia was allegedly cocaine.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:00 AM on January 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I actually skipped listening to this, because I saw "Nuts!" pretty recently. It's a great documentary that uses animation to fill in for its general lack of visual media, but plenty of transcripts and audio.

Skillfully done, and what a story!
posted by Sunburnt at 5:01 PM on January 25, 2017

I want this story to be made into a Coen Brothers movie.
posted by dnash at 2:32 PM on January 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really enjoyed this.

For those looking for more, there was also a pretty entertaining discussion of Brinkley on the sawbones podcast a while back.
posted by eotvos at 8:09 AM on January 29, 2017

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