Picture this. It’s the early 1980s and you’re feening for rap music but it’s a struggle. Getting your hands on hip-hop records is so difficult and catching songs from hip-hop artists on the radio is nearly impossible. And then Ron Nelson and the “Fantastic Voyage”, the first hip-hop radio program in Canada, comes along.
Being a hip-hop head in the 1980s was hard but Nelson made connecting to that fresh, new musical and cultural movement so much easier. Each Saturday from 1PM to 4PM you could tune into 88.1 CKLN and listen to the latest hip-hop songs and interviews with the hottest artists without a drive to the US.
But back to Ron Nelson.
Nelson was born in Pembroke Hall, Jamaica and emigrated to Canada in 1972. His role in Canadian music history began when he enrolled in Ryerson University in 1983 and began working at the campus radio station, 88.1 CKLN. There Nelson started the “Fantastic Voyage” where listeners could tune into three hours of all-hip-hop-everything every Saturday afternoon including music, artist interviews and concert updates.
While no one man should have all that power Nelson used his position to help promote, support and develop Canadian hip-hop acts including heavyweights like as Maestro Fresh Wes, Michee Mee, Rumble & Strong and the Dream Warriors.
But Nelson didn’t stop with just a radio show.
If you wanted to know which rap acts were in the city, Nelson was that dude. He even set up the “Jam Line”, a 24-hour telephone recording that provided listeners with information on dances, events and concerts. Eventually, Nelson followed the natural progression into promoting live shows and concerts with his first event was Quality Records’ the Kings of Rap. He went on to work with legends like KRS-One, Run-DMC, EPMD, Big Daddy Kane and Public Enemy.
Following the natural progression of the industry lead Nelson to become an event promoter bringing big hip-hop acts to Toronto’s small but mighty scene.
These days Ron Nelson goes by the name Professor Nelson at the University of Toronto where he teaches a class called Contemporary Black Urban Music. And while he's technically out of the biz he's still shaping hip-hop history.