Episode 017 — Shhhh! Dr. B.J. Palmer is On the Air! (part 1)


Title: Shhhh!  Dr. B.J. Palmer is On the Air!  (part 1)

Episode Number: 017

Host: Dr. Thomas Lamar

Show Date: 07/16/2010

Run Time: 22:39

Description:  Chiropractic owes a debt of gratitude to antique collector Todd Waters.  If it hadn’t been for his keen eye one day, a piece of chiropractic history just might have been lost forever.

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Dr. BJ Palmer, Chiropractor………………… and Radio Pioneer

Dr. B.J. Palmer,




“Wonders of Chiropractic”

Todd Waters, antique collector of records

Meet the Man Behind This Remarkable Chiropractic Broadcasting Find….

Mr. Todd Waters, antique collector and lover of the phonograph record, joins Dr. Lamar in this special podcast series.

Interested in purchasing a CD of the Recordings?

More info:

Listen to Dr.Lamar’s two-part podcast on Chiropractic Radio History:

“From Broadcasting to Podcasting: Chiropractic is On the Air!” (part 1)

“From Broadcasting to Podcasting: Chiropractic is On the Air!” (part 2)

Check out the other Parts of this BJ Palmer Broadcast Series:

“Shhhh! Dr. B.J. Palmer is On the Air!” (part 1)

“Shhhh! Dr. B.J. Palmer is On the Air!”(part 2)

“Shhhh! Dr. B.J. Palmer is On the Air!” (part 3)

“Shhhh! Dr. B.J. Palmer is On the Air!” (part 4)

“Shhhh! Dr. B.J. Palmer is On the Air!” (part 5)

Read Dr. Lamar’s newspaper article the History of Chiropractic Radio:

“From Broadcasting to Podcasting: Chiropractic Delivers its Message”

“What’s a Podcast???” page!

Visit our iTunes listing and give us a rating!


Does your podcast listening schedule need a little backbone? If so, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your podcast chiropractor, Dr. Thomas Lamar.

Click Here to Automatically Receive Subscribe to SpinalColumnRadio



Spinal Column Radio, episode number seventeen.

Coming up next on Spinal Column Radio — Shhhh!  Dr. B.J. Palmer is On the Air!  (part 1)


[intro theme music]

And welcome back to another exciting and information packed episode of Spinal Column Radio.  My name is Dr. Thomas Lamar, chiropractor and dad of six.   And this is the podcast that gets you to think.  To think about your health in a whole new way.  We’re the podcast for your backbone… the podcast with backbone.  Who knew that spinal education could be this much fun?

We’d like to invite you to visit our podcast website at spinalcolumnradio.com where you can learn more about us, check out our world-renowned “What’s a Podcast?” page, and can access the show notes for this episode.  Also, we encourage you to leave comments and ask questions through our website, or, if you prefer, you can email me using DrLamar AT spinalcolumnradio DOT com.


[transitional 1920’s music:  Rudy Vallee and His Connecticut Yankees — Let’s Put Out the LIghts (and Go to Bed).  http://www.archive.org/details/1920s-rudyVallee-01-10]

Well today we get a chance to step back into the fascinating History of Radio and Chiropractic’s involvement with it.

I say “step back” because we’ve already done a two part podcast on it — episodes 005 and 006, “From Broadcasting to Podcasting:  Chiropractic is On the Air!”…

But as you will soon come to understand, we have a specific purpose for “tuning back” to this topic.

Many people don’t realize — and are surprised to find out — that Dr. BJ Palmer, the son of the founder of chiropractic,  was at the forefront of radio broadcasting.  He, for all intents and purposes, was a “Radio Pioneer.”  In 1922, he purchased the first commercial radio station west of the Mississippi, making it the second in the nation.  Prior to BJ’s broadcast entry, radio was primarily used for governmental purposes.  But BJ saw something in radio that others did not — at least not initially… Simply its ability to communicate messages to a great number of people in the “unseen audience,” as he called it, all at once.

Station WOC operating atop the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.

Operating atop the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, BJ Palmer’s WOC Radio Station — which he proudly proclaimed stood for the “Wonders of Chiropractic — created quite a buzz.  Listeners from all over the nation, and beyond, were able to tune in with their newly acquire radio sets to “listen in” to this new form of entertainment.

[1920’s music bed:  Rudy Vallee and His Connecticut Yankees — Let’s Put Out the LIghts (and Go to Bed).  http://www.archive.org/details/1920s-rudyVallee-01-10]

Palmer’s radio station had a wide variety of programing —  such as news, sports, weather, live music, farm reports, church service, children’s story time, and the like.  And it also had — and Palmer was not shy about this in the least — chiropractic educational programing.

He once wrote that “The Mission of WOC is to establish Good Will for Chiropractic…. [The]WOC is educating millions daily to a favorable mental receptivity to Chiropractic.”  Those who corresponded with the station were always sent a circular that not only gave them information about the radio station in general, but also information on Chiropractic.  “This means,” as Palmer would write, “that thousands of people who otherwise might not be attracted to Chiropractic are given a cordial introduction to this science of health.”

Inside the WOC Studio

Palmer was known for taking to the WOC airwaves — and then later adding sister station WHO — each evening to espouse the benefits of chiropractic.  Or as one chiropractic historian put it, Palmer would introduce comments on the benefits of chiropractic in his “late-evening soliloquies.”

So, just what did BJ Palmer’s chiropractic educational programing sound like? … Well, if it hadn’t for the keen eye of Mr. Todd Waters, we here in the 21st century might never have known……


[transitional 1920’s music:  Louis Armstrong  — The Peanut Vendor.    http://www.archive.org/details/1920s-louisArmstrong-51-60]

Dr Lamar: Well, joining me on the phone today on SpinalColumnRadio, from Midland, Michigan is a man that we chiropractors owe a debt of gratitude to,  Mr. Todd Waters…. Mr. Waters welcome to the program.

Mr. Todd Waters: Hello.

Dr. Lamar: Well today, thanks to you, our listeners get a chance to actually hear an original recording of BJ Palmer, himself, expousing the benefits of Chiropractic from his early days in radio.  But before we go ahead and play that, let’s go ahead and give our listeners a little background.  Who is Todd Waters and What does he have to do with the Chiropractic profession?

Mr. W: I’m just a guy that made a lucky find one day.  I like to collect records, and I’m always looking for the most unusual record I can find… to me those are the best ones — especially spoken-word records.

Dr. L: Is this something that you do as a hobby, or is there, kind of, a business side to this for you?

Mr. W: It started out as a hobby, but like most hobbies, it turns into money later if you have something that is valuable.  But mostly it is a really strong interest of mine.  I really like the spoken-word records, they are fascinating to me…. I like to hear different celebrities talk — icons talk — and capture a little bit of history.

Dr. L: Absolutely!  How long have you been doing this collecting?

Mr. W: Since I was a kid.  My mom used to buy me these Disneyland records where you hear the story and you turn the page when Tinkerbell rings her little bell.

Dr. L: Oh yeah… I had those too…. But the difference is, you still have them… right?

Mr. W: Mmmm… some of them.  Ya.

Dr. L: How many records would you say that you own?

Mr. W: I don’t even want to know…. just barrels full.

Dr. L: Really?  Where do you keep them all?

Mr. W: My basement mostly… but it’s starting to run out of room real quick.

Dr. L: Are there —


[scratch sfx]

Okay… I’m going to break in here and give you a little background… because, I have to be honest with you, this interview… it took a totally unexpected turn.  And this all becomes much more interesting, if you know the story behind the story.

You see, back in November of 2009, as I was getting ready for our January 1st SpinalColumnRadio launch date, I began writing an article for our local paper on the “History of Chiropractic Radio.” Well, in my search for information on the topic… deep in the corner recesses of Google, I found a website proclaiming to have found original “BJ Palmer Broadcast Recordings” from 1931.  What’s more, is that they had digitally remastered these recordings and were selling copies.  Well, needless to say, I immediately sent an email out expressing interest in obtaining a copy of these rare recordings.   …And that’s about as far as it got.  I received no response.  So I emailed again.  And again, got no response.  Well to say that I was a little disappointed would be a bit of an understatement… I was also a bit concerned… I mean the website was one of those free websites that you can set up and it appeared to have been setup back in 2004.  And it certainly did not come up on page one of Google.   Perhaps the person behind the website… the person that found these rare recordings… was no longer.  I didn’t know.  On his website he indicated that he had donated a copy of these recordings to the Chiropractic History Museum at Palmer College of Chiropractic.  So I emailed them… and I didn’t get a response either.

Well, pretty frustrating, to say the least.  And then two weeks later… two weeks later!  I got a response…. with instructions telling me where to send the money.  (And we’re not talking about a large sum of money.  Actually I thought it pretty reasonable… so I took the risk…. And I’m glad I did).  Because, anyway,  shortly thereafter, as promised the CD came, and I held in my hands a a copy of “Chiropractic History.”  These were recordings of Dr. BJ Palmer, delivering a series of short “Chiropractic Talks” to his radio audience.  Needless to say, I was very excited.

So, remember, I was writing an article on the subject, but my intended goal was to eventually create a podcast  about it…. and now that I had actual broadcast, voice,  recordings from BJ Palmer himself talking about the benefits of chiropractic…. it just seemed like a “natural” to showcase them on my Spinal Column Radio, “Chiropractic Radio History Episode.”

So with a kind of “I’ll-scratch-your-back-if-you-scratch-mine, perspective” I approached the owner of these digitally-remastered recordings, Mr. Todd Waters — the person of our interview… And I asked him if he would come on to our show to give us the story of who he was and how he obtained these rare recordings.  And then, (and this is what I really wanted), we’d play a clip from one of the “Chiropractic Talks” that BJ Palmer gave, and then tell listeners how they could obtain a copy of their own.  So, I’d get my sound bite of BJ Palmer on the radio, and he’d get promotion of his little business venture.  A win… win.

Well, he expressed interest, and said he’d do it.   And then, and I don’t know exactly what happened — but he stopped returning my emails…. And as I got closer to the recording of my Chiropractic Radio History podcasts, I eventually, had to drop the idea of having him on all together and just move forward.  At the very least, I was able to listen to these recordings to help me “fine tune” my attempts at impersonating BJ’s voice for some of the quotes that I read during my show.  It helped me get the cadence and the tone down.

So in February of 2010…. our two-part “From Broadcasting to Podcasting: Chiropractic is On the Air!” podcast was released without any mention of these recordings.  And, in retrospect, I think it turned out great. Go ahead and listen to them.  I’ll put a link in the show notes.

So here we are. I’ve now moved on… and we are ten episodes, or so, past this “Chiropractic Radio Thing.” My mind is on other topics.  And then in June — six months after I had originally approached Mr. Waters — he emails me telling me that he’s back on the computer again and ready to contribute to my show if I’m still interested.

Well….. of course I’m still interested.  It’s not what I had originally planned, but I’ll shuffle a few things around and make something work… because I certainly was in favor of showcasing this piece of rare Chiropractic History to the world.

And so, now here we are…. conducting an interview with an antique collector, who loves records, Mr. Todd Waters of Midland, Michigan.


Dr. L: So you said that you are just a lucky guy that made a great find.  What is it that you found?

Mr. W: What I found was a manilla envelope with five records in it.  They were old, 78 records.  And they caught my eye because they had white labels… and they mentioned Chiropractic… and I really didn’t know what was on them, but I just knew they were a spoken-word record because there probably wasn’t any music called “Chiropractic” or anything.  The labels were white… and usually, to me, a white label means that it was made for the radio.  They were probably a “one of a kind” record that was meant to be played maybe once and then destroyed.  To have one, let alone five of these, was extremely rare.

Dr. L: At what point did you know that maybe you had stumbled upon something “BIG” here?

Mr. W: Just the fact that they were Chiropractic records.  I’ve never seen a Chiropractic record before.  I’ve been collecting for many years, and I’ve seen many records… and this was definitely unusual… plus the fact that they were so old.  I put them on the player and they played fairly well.  I could still hear the audio very well, and I heard the name “B.J. Palmer.”  So I did a little Google search on him and found out that he’s like the “Godfather of Chiropractic.” …Seems like he’s the one that started it all, so I knew that this was a very important recording that probably most people haven’t heard before so I knew I had something special.


[scratch sfx]

Okay… I’m going to break in again.  So here we are… the interview is continuing on — and it’s all very interesting — and we finally get to the point that I was looking forward to…. we played “the clip” — a clip of Dr. BJ Palmer talking about Chiropractic on the radio…. which of course was very cool.  (And, yes, by the way, it’s coming).

Afterwards, we had a little conversation, and then I got to the “transaction-part” of interview where I asked him how someone, who was interested, could go about purchasing their very own copy.

[long silent pause…….]

… And that’s kind of what happened.  There was silence.

[crickets chirping sfx]

He didn’t say anything….  I was looking over at Logan, and we were just kind of thinking, “What happened to him?”

Finally… I spoke up…  and I asked him if he was okay.  And…. He said something that… Well, he said something that…  Well, this is where the interview took the “unexpected turn”….


[congo drum roll sfx]

Mr. Waters: They’re not for sale.

[broken string sfx]

Dr. Lamar: Excuse me?

Mr. W: I’m going to give them to you.

Dr. L: What!!??

Mr. W: I thought it was really cool that you were excited about these recordings…. And I thought they were cool… And I’ve been looking for somebody to be as excited as I am about them… and spread the word about them — regive history back to chiropractors and your podcast would be perfect for this.

Dr. L: Unbelievable… I don’t even know what to say right now.

Dr. W: It’s your history.  Take them.


[grandiose transition music]

Oh my!  So there you have it.  Mr. Todd Waters wants to share this piece of Chiropractic History… this piece of Radio History… with everyone in the world and can think of no better way to do it than through our Spinal Column Radio podcast.

So… Mr. Waters… we accept.

When we were off the mic, he shared with me that he felt that he had had them for long enough and had certainly recouped his initial investment many times over.   And was actually very happy to have found someone who was so excited about them… and, well, I realize that not everyone is going to as excited about these as I am… I just think that they are fascinating.

So… here’s the plan:  In just a few moments, I am going to play for you Chiropractic Talk #1… entitled “What is Chiropractic.”  And then over the next four weeks, Mr. Todd Waters will join us as we release these additional Historic Chiropractic Talks.

Okay… you’ve waited long enough.  I want to set the scene here.

I want you to imagine that the year is 1931.  There are no iPods… No headphones.  No ear buds.  But instead, a single speaker, sizable radio set that sits in your den.  You’re lucky to own one.  This is not something that you listen to alone though.  Instead, everyone wants to listen.  So, there you are, huddled around the set with 4 or 5 of your family and friends… because it’s time to “listen in” to Dr. Palmer on Davenport, Iowa’s WOC… broadcasting high atop the Palmer School of Chiropractic……


[transitional sfx]

[original, 1931 BJ Palmer Broadcast Recording:  What is Chiropractic]

Announcer: It is a pleasure to introduce to this audience, Dr. BJ Palmer… of Davenport, Iowa.  He is the only son of DD Palmer, the founder of Chiropractic.  Dr. Palmer has developed the principles and practice of Chiropractic, and is the world’s foremost authority on Chiropractic.  His subject is:  What is Chiropractic.  Dr. Palmer….

Dr. BJ Palmer: The adult spinal column consists of the superior 24 freely movable bone segments, called vertebrae, together with the sacrum and coccyx.  All the great nerve trunks emit through the openings between these vertebrae…. known as intervertebral foramina.  The vital force within man is carried by these nerve trunks from the brain to the various organs, muscles, and tissues of the body.

For every effect, you must have a cause.  That is fundamental.  If a person is sick, then the condition of dis-ease — regardless of the name applied — is an effect for which there must be a cause.

The Chiropractic premise is that the cause of dis-ease is due to the subluxation of vertebrae which produce pressure upon nerve trunks, and thus interfere with the normal transmission of vital nerve force.

The Chiropractic objective is to locate the points in the spine where nerve pressure exists due to subluxated vertebrae, and by proper adjustment restore such subluxated vertebrae to their normal position — releasing the pressure on nerves involved and thereby removing the cause of dis-ease in the body.

Most of us are born with bodies that possess normal organs within.  As long as they function properly, they give no concern.  It is when normal function is disturbed that we become sick.  For our body to be healthy, it must receive vital nerve force in proper quantity and quality through the nerves.  The practice of Chiropractic embraces this essential.  The expression of this vital nerve force in the body depends upon the condition of the nervous system because that is the medium through which the vital nerve force is transmitted from the brain to all parts of the body.

If an abnormal condition or sickness occurs, it is due to the interference of the normal transmission of this vital nerve force between the brain and the tissue cells of the body.  There is only one place where this interference can be produced:  in the spine where the great nerve trunks exit out between the vertebrae.  When a vertebra becomes subluxated, the opening through which the nerve trunks emits is constricted, and this constriction produces pressure upon the fibers contained in that nerve trunk…. So that vital energy cannot be transmitted in normal quantity.  Every fiber impinged by this constriction supplies some tissue cell and that tissue cell is abnormal in the same degree that the fiber is pinched.  If many of these fibers are involved, then many tissue cells are involved, and they remain in a dis-eased condition until such time as they again receive their normal quantity of vital energy.

For more than 36 years, Chiropractic has been getting sick people well.  From a rudimentary beginning, it has grown and developed into the foremost health science.  Thousands of men and women who had practically given up hope of being restored to health have been made well by chiropractic adjustments.

The reason why Chiropractic is growing and extending its field of service to those who are sick is that Chiropractic adjustments do restore health to the body… and the true value of any health service is determined by its effectiveness in getting sick people well.

Chiropractic offers to the person who is sick the most effective way to health, and it earnestly invites your unprejudiced and conscientious investigation and trial.


[transitional sfx]

I just think that is so cool!

That my friends is not only a piece of Chiropractic History… but a piece of Early Radio Broadcast History as well…  preserved… and now freely shared with the world… by Mr. Todd Waters of Midland, Michigan.


[transitional sfx]

Hey, before we sign off on this episode… I want to say a very special “hello” to a listener I just learned about.  Her name is Eleanor, and she lives not too far from my office… and she’s 95 years old.  I understand that I’m the only podcaster that she listens to, and I want to thank her for that.  Eleanor, you sound like a sweetheart, and I’d love to meet you someday.  You certainly are in an extreme minority here.  Not only are you one of the few. — if not the only — nonagenarians listening to a podcast (okay, I had to look that up… that means she’s in her 90’s)…. but, being born in 1916 and living in the Chicago area…. it’s possible… possible… that you could have heard these recordings broadcast over the radio set.


[outro theme music]

Once again, thanks to Mr. Todd Waters for loving records so much… that he saved a piece of chiropractic history that will now live on for all to hear through Spinal Column Radio.

Spinal Column Radio would like to remind you that you are listening to 1931 Chiropractic and that true health comes from the inside out — not outside in.  As such, the content of this podcast, along with the show notes and related links, is not intended to cure, diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.  But, instead, is meant to inform and inspire you in asking better questions regarding your health.  Since the circumstances surrounding your particular situation are unique, you are encouraged to consult with a present day Doctor of Chiropractic — or other health care practitioner of your choosing.

Next time on Spinal Column Radio Dr. BJ Palmer takes to the microphone again, and Mr. Todd Waters joins us to tell us exactly where he found these amazing recordings.  We’ll do that in a week.  So, until then, for my son Logan, tweaking the knobs on the sound board, this is Dr. Thomas Lamar, your podcast chiropractor.


Spinal Column Radio is a production of Spinal Column Communications in conjunction with AnchorChiropractic.net.  Copyright 2010.

Download a PDF version of these Show Notes


10 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Great episode! Sorry for my delay in making our interview. (Mostly Stage Fright). I feel more comfortable on the listening side of radio than on the speaking side. That might be why I’m so attached to records.

Comment by Todd Waters

I’m glad you like it. Don’t sweat the delay thing…. I think it worked out great this way. I couldn’t have written a better story if I had to. 🙂 I’m looking forward to releasing the other four episodes. Wouldn’t it be neat to somehow put all of these episodes on a vinyl record?

Comment by drlamar

Looking forward to hearing more history, both radio and chiro. Well done production, too, also.

Comment by Frank Acevedo

Thank you Frank it was fun to put together…. And, I might add, I’m looking forward to the other episodes too, as I still haven’t completed them. But then again, that’s what late nights are for. 😉

Comment by drlamar

Correction: Ooops! I goofed. I mentioned in this episode as I was “setting up” BJ’s Talk that there “were no headphones….” — well my audio engineer son, Logan, was quick to crack open the encyclopedia and show me a picture of old-time headphones and since then I seem to see reference to them all the time. Well, I still stand by my “there were no earbuds” statement. 🙂

And while we are on the subject of me goofing up… the statement that “you were lucky to own one” may have been a bit of a stretch… by 1931 about 50% of households had a radio set.

Dr L

Comment by drlamar

Dr. Lamar,

I am so excited for hearing a broadcasting of B.J Palmer, even better, it is the first time I heard his voice. How wonderfully he used to talk about it, how confident and full of knowledge that make me think of my chiropractic speeches.

I started to wonder, am I transmitting that passion, that conviction to people and patients I attend? Well I think I wasn´t but I will definitely change this, a century has passed and I think Chiropractic is something to be told about with the same emotion and confidence he did.

Thank you and Mr. Waters for making that happen.

Dr. Roger Vargas
Roger Vargas

Av. Mansiche 845
Urb. Sánchez Carrión
Trujillo – Peru

Comment by Roger

Hello Dr. Vargas from Peru! Welcome to SpinalColumnRadio!

I’m so excited that you were able to hear BJ Palmer’s voice for the first time via our podcast and that upon hearing him speak you are now inspired to add passion and conviction behind your future chiropractic communications with patients. What a pivotal moment for you and for your patients. Thanks for sharing and keep listening!

— Dr. Lamar

P.S. Be sure to pass our show on to others!

Comment by drlamar

of course, I am totally spreading out to my Chiropractors friends … Congratulations for the incredible Chiropractic broadcasting show…

all the best

Comment by Roger

Hello Dr. Lamar, I need to know what in your opinion makes a great chiropractor. I am a novelist and currently touching on Palmer School of Chiropractic in 1922 where my ‘character’ is studying. By the way the 5 BJ Palmer recorded talks have been absolutely fantastic – thank you for sharing these. So if there is any chance I can call you to chat with you (off air) that would be great. I live in Tuscany, Italy so we need to get the right time for you and me! I hope we can do this soon. And I thank you sincerely and in anticipation. Jacqueline

Comment by Jacqueline Falcomer

Jacqueline – How fantastic! So great to hear that our podcast is helping you with your novel. I’d love to talk with you. Will email you privately. – Dr. Lamar

Comment by drlamar

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