Thursday, March 4, 2010

How Chiropractic Started Ronald Reagan’s Radio Career


Ever since D.D. Palmer delivered the first chiropractic adjustment in 1895, chiropractors have been passionate educators. But probably none as passionate as the founder’s son himself, B.J. Palmer. Known as the “Developer of Chiropractic,” B.J. Palmer is often credited for chiropractic’s presence today.

As a wise businessman, lover of gadgetry, and an excellent communicator, Palmer saw something in the early days of radio that others did not. Simply its ability to communicate messages (chiropractic or otherwise) to a great number of people all at once. In fact, he is known for using an agricultural term “broadcasting” in reference to the radio. Palmer saw in radio a potential to “broadcast,” or spread, “message seeds” from a central location in a way that no other medium could match.

He purchased his first radio station, the WOC, in 1922. Although the call letters were arbitrarily assigned, he was quick to let everyone know that it stood for the “Wonders Of Chiropractic.” Operating atop the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, the “Wonders of Chiropractic” drew an estimated one million listeners and was credited as our nation’s first commercial radio station west of the Mississippi.

In the 1930’s, radio was so new that many Midwestern towns didn't even have a commercial station. After graduating from college, a young Ronald Reagan started out to begin a career in sports broadcasting. He started in the Chicago area… and was soundly rejected everywhere he went. As he was turned down at one station, he simply moved west to interview at another. He knew of two or three in the tri-cities area in Davenport, Iowa. He started with stations on the Illinois side of the Mississippi but struck out, then crossed the river into Iowa. His first stop was station W.O.C. in Davenport.

He promptly found out that he was a day late for interviewing for the open announcer spot. Fortunately, he convinced the program manager to hire him to announce the Iowa-Minnesota Homecoming game for “$5 and bus fare.“

In February of 1932 he received a call from WOC asking him to take on a position as one of their staff announcers. Unfortunately, Reagan proved to be a terrible announcer with a stiff and “wooden” delivery. Only after the station assigned someone to help with his on-air delivery did he really shine as an announcer.

Ronald Reagan’s really big break came when he was asked to announce the Drake Relays for WHO, another Palmer owned radio station in Des Moines, Iowa. A few weeks after this event, B.J. Palmer received a permit for a 50,000 watt clear channel station and WHO became one of the most powerful NBC stations in the country. Because of his reporting on the Drake Relays, Ronald Reagan was offered the post of sports announcer.

Ronald Reagan was an early proponent of chiropractic as both a patient and employee of B.J. Palmer. Since that time chiropractors have gone on to serve extensively to help everyone from movie stars in Hollywood to Olympic athletes in Vancouver!


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