Tributes Page 2
"At nine, a breathless Mike Ahern, 'Fink University' written across his T-shirt and slopping coffee, arrives to take over the turntables.' journalist Dermot Purgavie. In 1967, Dermot braved the depths of winter aboard the Mi Amigo to report for the Daily Sketch.
GRAHAM 'SPIDER' WEBB , CAROLINE NORTH AND SOUTH
Mike Ahern was loved by family, friends, his contemporaries, co-workers and every listener who heard him over the years, as he had such a warm and engaging personality. He was never without a smile; you could hear it in his voice. This is the mark of a consummate Broadcaster.
Mike and I were friends from the moment he landed on Caroline South where, until 1966, I had been Programme Controller but was asked by Ronan O'Rahilly to set up a legitimate news format for both ships. Hence 'Radio Caroline Newsbeat'. I had to recruit news readers/writers such as Gordie Cruse, John Hatt, Mark Sloane and Nick Bailey.
Whenever I was aboard the South ship, Mike would grill me about Australia and eventually he landed on my doorstep at the family home in Sydney where for the next three months he made application to many radio stations and eventually he landed the midnight-to-dawn shift on 2UW. From there moved on to 4BC Brisbane and 6PR Perth and several other stations. He became a radio star on both sides of the continent, regularly enjoying high ratings. The last time I saw him was a couple of years ago when we gathered at the Radio Academy Celebration of Offshore Radio to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the closure of all the offshore stations except Caroline. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
NORM ST JOHN, CAROLINE SOUTH
Mike was a wonderful Radio DJ and a close friend for over forty years but in the end he just wanted to go to the big station in the sky. He will be greatly missed by all that knew him.
RIP Mike. No more pain now. We loved you.
'FAB' ALAN FIELD, FAB FORTIES COMPILER
Thanks for sending the link to the 4BC website. What marvellous tributes! I always knew that Mike had worked in Australian radio after leaving the UK, but I don't think I ever realised what a huge star he became over there, and how long he spent at the top. The genuine fondness of the memories posted online and the moving tribute broadcast by his friend and colleague at 4BC say it all.
The 4BC Brisbane website link is www.4bc.com.au. The archived tributes are here. (with thanks to John Preston)
PETER YOUNG, CAPITAL RADIO
What a shame to hear of the passing of another pirate legend. I met him once when he was using Capital Radio’s studios to broadcast a show back to Australia. A nice man and a true original who sounded like no one else.
MARY PAYNE, RADIO LONDON
Mike loved to tell the tale of living near Kenny Everett (who was two years younger) in Liverpool and attending the same school, and how he had never been the same since a brick lobbed in the playground by young Maurice Cole had hit him on the head. He is probably, right this minute, complaining about it to Kenny! He also had a hilarious story involving crustaceans and Caroline North, which is not really suitable for a tribute page!
Mike looked very unwell during Easter 09's Pirate BBC Essex and it was clear to all who met him that something was seriously wrong. However, Mike did not let his illness prevent him from participating and we are all grateful that he was able to do so. None of us imagined that we would lose him so soon.
(Left) Mike in a rather more sunny marine environment than the North Sea!
Outside the Pier Hotel, Harwich, with Tony Currie. August 2007
(Photo: Radio London)
TIM GILLETT, BBC ESSEX
I first met Mike in the mid-eighties when we were working together at Essex Radio. He was programme controller and was fresh, exciting and so energetically full of passion about what makes entertaining radio. When the mid-morning presenter was off for a week, he brought in Jeremy Beadle, John Entwhistle, Angie Best and others to do the show – great idea, well executed. His knowledge of what music turned on the listener was immense. I remember spending 45 minutes on the phone to him when I was putting together the Pirate BBC Essex play list in 2003, listening intently to his advice. Mike was towards the top of my list of the original sixties offshore presenters I wanted to head the line-up of legends who would make Pirate BBC Essex the success it was in 04, 07 and 09. He was a natural broadcaster and off air was as charming as he was on air. I'm proud and touched that what I believe to be his last broadcast, was aboard the LV18 on Pirate BBC Essex at Easter 2009.
MARK SLOANE, CAROLINE NORTH AND SOUTH
Mike Ahern and I became friends from the moment we met on Radio Caroline South in 1966. What fun we had together, both on and off the air. He was a guy larger then life. The stories are too many to tell, but for example he came out of the gaming rooms of the Playboy casino in 1967 crying, "oh my house, my poor wife, how will I be able to buy food for the children?". He would sit next to a stranger on the underground train in London and start swatting at imaginary insects on his clothing crying, "Oh my God, Mark, the bastards are back again!".
We started having fun on Caroline South, when he and I did a programme at around 1900 with me pretending to be Ada the cleaning lady on the Ship (falsetto voice). This fictional character was really Lady Penelope Ponsonby Smythe Plus Four, who allegedly had connections in high places. This vehicle allowed us send up anything that took our fancy. We introduced numerous characters – Hamish McDougall, Mr. O'Rafferty, Admiral of the fleet Sir ----, and the head of the Maidenhead Mafia!
Mike and I kept our friendship over all these years. He has stayed at our house numerous times and has been on holiday with us.
After the MOB and Radio 1, he went to Australia, where we kept in touch by regular tapes. We met on his trips back to the UK.
One year in the 70s he was staying with me and my first wife in Weybridge. I came home from work at 1700 to find the curtains drawn in the living room, but the French doors open, so I rushed in to see what was going on. Mike jumped up from the table shouting, "mother of Jesus" as a glass crashed to the floor. They were playing Ouija and thought I was a ghost.
A very intelligent man, Mike's phone-in on Capital Radio was very entertaining and he always managed to get the best out of people. I felt it was a shame he wasn't considered by the BBC for the Jeremy Vine show.
Last year I had lunch with him in his home town of Holt and took along my 88-year-old mum. The way they were rabbitting on, you would have thought Mike was the same age as Mum, as they discussed the big bands of the 1920s and 30s.
I last saw him a couple of weeks ago in hospital, where he still had his sense of humour. He was trying to bribe anyone who walked pass his bed to buy some chocolate, which was strictly against the consultant's rules. They were having difficulty measuring his blood sugar, I wonder why. At our last meeting as I went to leave, he got out of bed and shakily stood up and said, "Mark, come here give us a hug.".
Mike leaves two fine sons, both of whom I believe are about to have children, which would have made him a Grandfather had he survived.
Meester Ahern, you will be sorely missed. Rest in peace.
Caroline group. Mike with Johnnie Walker, George Hare and Robbie Dale at the Radio Academy Celebration of Sixties Offshore Radio, London 2007
(Photo: Elija Vandenberg)
GEORGE HARE, CAROLINE AGENT
I knew Mike well whilst he was on Caroline North in Ramsey Bay. He was polite and the perfect gentleman, always greeting 'The Fairies' at the bridge on his way to and from the airport in the Isle of Man.
PAUL ROWLEY, AWARD-WINNING DOCUMENTARY MAKER, 'THE OTHER RADIO CAROLINE' and many others
It was a shame to hear about the death of "your DJ Mike A".
Mike phoned me up after hearing my documentary on Pirate Radio Skues over New Year 2009, and was very complimentary. He said I had "captured the spirit of the time", which was truly gratifying, seeing that he was there and I was a 9-year-old kid when Caroline North came on air in 1964.
We chatted for a couple of hours, and I sent him some of my cuttings from Music Echo, the Liverpool based pop weekly which merged with Disc to form Disc and Music Echo in 1966. Mike had his own column in the paper, but didn't remember. I suspect it was written by the promotions team in the Caroline North office in Liverpool.
He phoned me back a few days later, and said he was "dead chuffed" (a Liverpool expression) at seeing so much about himself which he didn't have.
I spoke to Mike again when he was asked to do Pirate BBC Essex over Easter. He was truly honoured to be invited. I sent him an e-mail while he was on air and he read it out.
We never met, but he seemed a lovely chap. Everybody at BBC Essex said nice things about him.
As I told him, he was my second favourite DJ in 1965, behind Tom Lodge. I hadn't discovered Radio London and Kenny Everett at this stage.
I also told Mike that my daughter Jane who is 11, is now going to Sacred Heart RC Secondary School in Crosby. It is on the site of the former St Bede's School, attended by both Mike and Maurice Cole.
I hope the vibes rub off.
I was sorry to hear of the loss of Mike Ahearn. I was at the Pirate BBC Essex weekend at Easter, but on Saturday, not Sunday, so sadly, I never got to met Mike. Please pass on my regards to his friends and family.
|CHRISTINE HATT (WIFE OF CAROLINE DJ JOHN ASTON)
I have a small story about Mike from the 1990s.
My husband John was working on a film in New Zealand, and having been out to visit him, I was having a stopover in Australia on the Gold Coast.
John asked me to see if I could find out any information about Graham Webb as he wanted to go and visit him at the end of the filming, before he flew back to the UK.
I flew into Brisbane on the Friday, went into the town and somehow or other managed to contact Mike. He was busy, but asked when I was flying back through to get my connection to the UK.
Imagine my surprise when on the Monday he turned up at the airport and sat with me talking about Graham and Caroline and music etc., for a good few hours until my flight left.
I have always thought of this as a great act of kindness to somebody whom he did not know from Adam (or in my case Eve).
As a result, John went and spent a wonderful time with Graham when the film ended.
I have CDs at home that I recorded when BBC Pirate Essex was broadcasting and I know I have one of Mike’s programmes. I certainly remember him back in the old days. He was very popular and will be sadly missed.
I pass on my sincere condolences to his friends and family and whilst our generation is still around he will never be forgotten, as with all of our other sadly departed heroes of those golden days of pirate radio.
Above, Ronan's Boys, Roger 'Twiggy' Day and Mike, who was trying to warm up after his programme
So sorry to hear of Mike Ahern's death. I used to listen to him on 4BC when I lived in Brisbane in the mid-Seventies and it was so nice on homesick days to hear a familiar voice. It was nice to hear him again this year on Radio Essex too.
Another talent gone – so sad.
MICK & 'GRANNY' LUVZIT
I have fond memories of Mike Ahern - he was a lot of laughs! I believe we first met in July 1966 when Ronan asked me to go and do a show on the South ship, as he wanted me to transfer there. I had a lot of fun, but preferred the larger North ship and separate cabins, as I am very claustrophobic. Plus, I had met my future wife Janet Terrett there and missed being with her.
Right (courtesy of Mick) Mike and Mick "Goofin' around In the hallway Radio Caroline South, 1966"
I always enjoyed Mike's cheery smile, although I knew he also had a bit of a temper. I never got to be on that end of the stick, so to speak. We chatted about radio back in Canada – CHUM and CFGM in Toronto and CKY in Winnipeg and about which US DJs I enjoyed. We spoke of Wolfman Jack, Houndog, Jack Armstrong and especially Cousin Brucie, plus so many more. In those days the jocks had creative freedom such as we had on Caroline.
Mike had a quick wit on air and did a brilliant job of of taking the micky out of Jack Spector. I used to listen to tapes of him havin' a blast doing it. He was a great jock and will be truly missed. I'm sure he's enjoying his time now with Wolfman and the other great jocks in that big radio station in the sky, not forgetting our Caroline North friends Don Allan and Jim Murphy.
All the best to his family, friends and many fans.
OTHER OBITUARIES AND LINKS
Radio Today has a four-minute video of Mike being interviewed by Johnnie Walker on Pirate BBC Essex 2009 and on the same page, there is a personal tribute recorded by Tony Blackburn.
Andy 'Moggy' Morris's tribute
Digital Spy Forum
Kenny Tosh has made Mike's guest appearance on his programme The Revival Show available for download.