Above, right, Mike aboard the Caroline North ship Fredericia. (Photo from the Jim Murphy collection).
Below, mealtime in the mess on the South ship, Mi Amigo. l to r, Tommy Vance, Steve Young, Mike, Robbie Dale, John Aston, Johnnie Walker. (Photo from the Keith Hampshire collection)
STEVE YOUNG, CAROLINE SOUTH
Mike was the first person to welcome me on board the Mi Amigo and gave me "the Cooks' tour" of the ship. He was welcoming and interested in who I was and really helped me to settle in to my new quarters and my new job. Mike was a real star on the radio when we worked together on Caroline South. He was a great communicator with a dynamic personality. Sure, he was a bit hot-headed, but that was the Irish in his blood. He was always a great friend to me.
We lost contact for many years after I returned to Canada until, one day about 10 years ago, my phone rang. It was Mike and Patrick Hammerton (Mark Sloane). I think they'd been drinking a wee bit too much grog and decided to track me down, although I don't know how they actually did it, as the internet was still very much in its infancy then.
After that, Mike and I continued to stay in touch and would exchange audio cassette "letters", I still have them all stored away in my basement collection of radio memorabilia.
Unfortunately, Mike had a vision impairment (which he blamed on a brick thrown by Kenny Everett in a school playground in Liverpool) so the internet wasn’t helpful to him, as he couldn’t really make out what was on the screen.
It was great to meet up with Mike and Patrick in 1991 and then I saw Mike again in 2003 in London and then, for the last time, in hospital in Norwich in August. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to go and visit him while I was in England. He managed to compose himself enough to allow me to record a private video message for his close friends, attesting to the fact that he was “doing as well as could be expected”. We had a great visit together and a sincere hug when I left.
Mike was an avid reader and had a fantastic knowledge of historical events, although not necessarily the "text book" version. He could come up with these amazing anecdotes about stuff that I'd never heard of, or if I had, he had learned something completely different about the event, which he would tell me about.
The other thing about Mike is that he was a great broadcaster, he genuinely had fun doing his show, which when I worked with him was from 0900 to noon, so he was communicating with a large audience of "housewives" (as they were called in those days) and the ladies loved him and would send him all kinds of treats, which often he would share with his shipmates.
I'll miss "Meeester Ahern" (someday I'll tell the story of how that moniker came to be). Mike was a bit of a hothead, a bit of a rebel and a dyno-mite kinda guy. I feel so terrible that he left us like this and can only hope and pray that he’s gone to a place where he’ll find true happiness. In the meantime, I’ll never forget his closing remarks on every show that he did. “Take care, lots of care”.
Tonite I'll put my head on my pillow and listen carefully to the sounds of the universe and maybe, just maybe, I'll hear Mike saying, "Goodbye world, take care, lots of care."
TOM LODGE, CAROLINE NORTH AND SOUTH
I just heard the news that Mike Ahern passed away. What can we do as a memory for this special man? Mike was well loved. I was with him when he first joined Radio Caroline North and I instructed him with the procedures for working on the air. I was always impressed with his quick grasp of the intimacy of radio, and how easily he was able to be a really good broadcaster.
When Ronan moved me down to the South ship, I brought Mike with me and again he was received by the southern audience in a way that was beyond my dreams.On board he was friendly with everyone and his presence helped support good morale on the ship, which was important in those confined spaces. But it was his broadcasting that I specially remember.
What can we do as a memory for this special man?
(The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame has a photo from Tom's personal collection of Tom and Mike clowning about in the studio. )
DAVE CASH, RADIO LONDON
Sally and I visited Mike in hospital shortly after his operation. He knew it was serious, but he never gave up hope and kept his sense of humour. We relived all the good times we'd had together, and we laughed a lot. Mike was the best buddy anyone could have. He was also a 'real' DJ and I will miss him forever.
Above, Mike leaving the LV18 after his programme on Pirate BBC Essex, April 12th 2009, Harwich
(Photos left, John Sales and right, Tony L)
Mike insisted we had a long chat/gossip after our work was through that day, but although I looked for him on board ship, on the Ha'Penny Pier and in the hotel where we were all staying, alas no sign of Mike.
On the long journey homewards that evening to Lincolnshire I regretted not having that long overdue catchup. Now with Mike's death on the 5th October I bitterly regret not having looked a little bit harder for him.
Mike Ahern became very ill in those weeks and months that followed. He asked for this to be kept quiet, which we did. He wanted no fuss.
I'm saddened one of our offshore family has gone forever and will treasure those moments on that hot, sunny day, laughing and joking in an atmosphere of fun, which is what radio has always been about.
Rest in Peace dear friend, "Mike A., Our DJ".