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G&B: Apologies to Sting

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

a fantastic voyage of radio memories

It was the way you earned your stripes as a Hip Hop fan back in the late 80s and early 90s. To see what type of homemade contraption you can invent just so you can listen to three hours of Hip Hop on a Saturday afternoon. The community radio station, CKLN housed by Toronto's Ryerson University didn't have the frequency power like CFTR but it played our music. It fed the community. Back then, an all black radio station was a dream. A distant reality. All we had to play with was a three hour window where the world was ours. Or at least, it felt like that. Like the rest of the world held still while the breakers, dj's, graf writers, and just the lovers of the culture danced in the streets and bumped our head to our music. They showcased homegrown talent. People who would later make names for themselves and help Canadian music on a whole. Emcee's who would make us proud to say we were from the T-Dot.

As soon as the foil, hanger, glass, or utensils were in place and the static sounds were at a minimum, I grabbed a blank tape I bought earlier on that week at Radio Shack and pressed record. If it was Ron Nelson, DJ X or The Real Freqs, it was a Fantastic Voyage of Hip Hop. I would get on the phone and call my friends who didn't have the luxury of being able to make contraptions thus not able to tune in. When they answered, I would put the phone up to the speaker so they could join me on the voyage, too. A magic carpet ride escaping to a young world. That was new to many. Including us. Back then, Hip Hop was as innocent and grimy as our afternoon radio set-up.

As the years went on, the radio set up got less grimy and we soon didn't need the contraptions to hear good music, however my first memories of my introduction to radio and this culture I love, will never be forgotten. It proved to me that I loved Hip Hop music and it helped me get by. The Saturday afternoons will live on in our hearts and in some boxes inside another box on a cassette tape. It was a voyage where I got to know and fall in love with H.E.R. and no one - even some hierarchal summit like the CRTC can ever take that away.

To help save CKLN Radio in Toronto, sign the partitions found on the stations website found here.

Ron Nelson - Fantastic Voyage - 1986

DJ X - Powermove - 1990