Minimum Wage Media

The wizard behind the curtain

Jeff - 1955 Jeff - 2010

Jeff Gill was born in New Haven, Connecticut on August 16, 1954, and grew up in a nearby rural town. At the age of 11, he discovered a fascination with radio in all of its aspects - programming and music as well as the technical and performing elements. While in high school, he dj’d music programs over the intercom, played saxophone in the band, and performed in a couple of school plays. He completed his BA in Communications at Seton Hall University in 1976, where his studies were most concentrated in the areas of broadcasting, theater, speech, psychology, history, music, and literature. He was very active at the campus radio station, and performed a fair amount of textbook dictation-to-tape for blind students living at his dormitory.

After some false starts, Jeff did eventually develop a radio career that lasted for the better part of 20 years. By 1978, he had his first paying job as an on-air fill-in at WADS in Ansonia, Connecticut. But developments at a tiny community station in which he was also involved - WLNV in neighboring Derby - were what was really capturing his imagination. As this CETA-funded operation evolved from cable casting to 10-watt FM, it adopted a daytime format of folk, country, and bluegrass, thus filling a void in the local market that had occurred at that time. Jeff went on to become the station’s music director and the director of that format.

One day while on the air, he had what can best be described as an epiphany. He recalls saying to himself, “Somehow, if it were ever possible for me to have a real career in this business, I want to do this kind of programming - this music - more than anything else.” WLNV is now gone, long since absorbed into a larger public broadcasting chain. But Jeff’s desires and aims have remained largely unchanged to this day.

His first full-time professional opportunity occurred in 1979 at WNCS in Montpelier, Vermont, one of the early New England pioneers of the diverse, album adult alternative format now known simply as "triple A." While residing in that state, he went on to work at WSNO and WCVR as well. Seeking better social, professional, and cultural opportunities, Jeff moved to the Boston area in 1983 and has lived in eastern or central Massachusetts ever since. He has worked in various capacities at WCMX in Leominster (Music Director during its country era), WDLW in Waltham (air personality; co-producer of a syndicated program), WCAV in Brockton (air personality), and WUMB in Boston (various duties). Several delivery odd jobs have sustained him in a career that can be described as sporadic at best.

However, if there was one involvement with a radio station that Jeff would consider his crowning jewel - the one that made it all worth while  - it was his affiliation with WADN in Concord from 1993 to 1997. Although billed as the nation’s only commercial folk station at the time, he was an avid critic of its crossover musical approach and bland familiarity. Nevertheless, Jeff eventually established himself there, prevailing to become Music Director in 1994 and finally, Program Director in 1996, just months before the station changed its format to “personal finance” in December of that year.

Along with his broadcast duties, Jeff produced the acoustic music concert series at Concord’s Colonial Inn in 1995 and 1996. His previous concert producing experience had come in the summer of 1993 when he originated and produced an acoustic series at the Hatch Shell in Boston.

"The memories and people I met through WADN had a powerful effect on my life," he remarks. "It was a community with its own values and way of life - it was what homespun, independent, local commercial radio should be about. I had to carry on the legacy."

And carry on he did. In late March of 1997, Jeff teamed up with former WADN intern and IT networking wiz Jim Black, purchased the station’s music library, and founded Folk Image, one of the first web sites to stream folk music on the internet. Then, in 2004, Jeff hitched his wagon to the emerging Part 15 AM micro broadcasting movement and established the flagship "property" of Minimum Wage Media, "Troubadour 1700" - the 100 milliwatt Folk/Americana/World/New Age station that transmitts from his mobile home lot. With his discovery of progressive talk hosts Thom Hartmann and Mike Malloy in late 2003, the 9/11 Truth movement in 2006, and the subsequent demise of Progressive Talk radio in Boston later that year, there was a growing need to offer a full time talk station featuring voices that contradicted the prevailing din from the mainstream media's overpaid corporate mouthpieces. Since Jeff didn't wish to canabalize his folk station with increased talk programming, he did something unprecidented in the Part 15 radio scene: he built a second station - Liberty & Justice 1640, on the same property with an antenna and transmitter only 12 feet away from Troubadour 1700's. Not surprisingly, the two stations have pretty much the same coverage footprint. With the abandonment of analog TV in 2009 and the new availability of Channels 5 and 6, Jeff added FM frequencies 87.5 and 87.9 to his battery of signals in order to provide clearer reception to the Shirley Center, North Shirley, and Woodsville neighborhoods at night. Yet, at a half watt each, the total coverage is only slightly larger than the daytime reach of the two AM's.

In 2010, Jeff began to refer to his multi-micro signal entrerprise as Minimum Wage Media. "Every job I've held in my life, whether in radio or not, has been either at or somewhat above minimum wage," says Jeff. "As a result, I had to build these stations on a shoestring. There were only three occasions when I spent over $100 on something - the automation software and two of the computers. I also like the name because it makes corporate media types and those who have sold out just to get rich in this business uncomfortable," he quips.

As a former professional broadcaster and a one time aspiring broadcast entrenprenuer, Jeff can attest to the impossibility of even an experienced low income person getting the support to start or obtain a media enterprise. "Until this country finally starts investing in its people, instead of killing and conquering and enriching greedy bankers and military contractors, our economy and infrastructure will continue to deteriorate and the lives of millions will be wasted in mediocrity and dispair," he remarked.

"In a just society, anyone who has paid some dues in a particular field, or just has a good, viable idea they have researched to start a new business, purchase a business, or restore one that disappeared years ago, should be able to obtain the necessary financing - interest free and repayment free for three years - from a well known and credible public agency. It should be just as much a human right as health care should be. Likewise, a just society would also have anti-trust laws that are actually enforced and 20 times stronger than the ones we have today, with most of today's corporations broken into 25 or more pieces. But until we finally have a mass awakening, and people start looking at their lives rationally and realize how many opportunities are being kept from them - while Wall Street, the media monopolies, intelligence agencies, established religions, and the petroleum and pharmaceutical industries continue to brainwash the public, destroy our economy, and destroy our planet - we are not going to have anything resembling a just society. So, in the meantime, I'm going to keep playing make believe with my toy broadcast company and subsist on my wonderful vegan diet, while scraping by with food delivery jobs. At least it makes life somewhat tolerable until we have a society and an economy worth participating in again!"         

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