The Power of the Podcast

[originally published in KCN, December 2011]

I love podcasting. I love it for many different reasons. But it’s the “Power of the Podcast” that keeps me coming back.

It’s been nearly two years now since my eleven year-old son, Logan, and I launched our Spinal Column Radio podcast over the “Internet airwaves.” A podcast is essentially a radio show that you can listen to on the Internet at your convenience — no need to tune in at a particular time. Ours, as you may have guessed, is about chiropractic. Our father-son team works because Logan wants to be a chiropractor like Dad and has a knack for technology. That’s why he’s my audio-engineer. As for myself, I love talking about chiropractic — especially behind a microphone.

Our podcast attracts regular listeners all over the globe. It’s humbling and inspiring to realize our show, podcasting from our home studio in little Kingston, Washington, is regularly listened to in such places as New Zealand, Argentina, Israel, and even New Jersey. And I guess that’s the essence of the “Power of the Podcast” — relationships. It allows for regular interaction with listeners and gives them a face.

This particular “Power of the Podcast” story really starts with the birth of commercial radio. I had decided to create a show on the history of radio and chiropractic’s involvement with it. Most people are unaware that the radio of today has the Developer of Chiropractic, Dr. BJ Palmer, at its forefront. It was BJ Palmer that saw something in radio that others did not — at least not at first: simply its ability to communicate messages to a great “unseen audience,” as he called it — all at once. And with this vision, in 1922 he purchased the second commercial radio station in the United States. Many more soon followed.

As I immersed myself in radio history research, I soon found myself reaching out to a certain antique collector from Midland, Michigan — an antique collector that had discovered, in a Salvation Army store no less, rare recordings of BJ Palmer broadcasting health talks from his radio station. Before long, the collector was on my show telling his story of discovery. And then he surprised me. Rather than him continuing to peddle copies of these recordings, he requested we podcast them in their entirety! It was his way of giving these little known recordings back to our profession. It was with honor and humility that we did just that.

It didn’t take long for these history podcasts to go viral within the chiropractic community. I had chiropractors from all over the world expressing their jubilation and gratitude.

But one such expression really stood head and shoulders above the rest. It was an email from a very, very excited chiropractor — a chiropractor who has an over-the-top fascination with BJ Palmer, collecting anything and everything BJ. On a lark, he did a BJ Palmer Google search and found our podcast of the recordings — recordings that even he, the BJ Palmer Fanatic, had never heard before. But what makes this story even more interesting is that this particular chiropractor practices in the same city as our antique collector! And, everyday as he drives to and from work, he passes by the same Salvation Army where these recordings were found!

As you can probably guess by now, our antique collector and fanatical chiropractor have become best friends. And while you could argue that our fanatical chiropractor really should have been the one to have found these rare recordings of BJ Palmer, that would have been limited. What truly amazes me about all of this is that it took a podcast produced 1800 miles away to bring two people together, that literally live two blocks away from one another, to not only forge a friendship and share in a passion of things from chiropractic past, but to impact and touch the lives of those in the great “unseen audience.”

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