|In the pirate radio days of the 1960s, Mike Ahern was among the UK's leading disc-jockeys,
winning favour on both Radio Caroline North and South. But unlike many of the DJs, he did not make a
successful transition to BBC Radio 1.
Mike Ahern was born in 1942 in the Liverpool suburb of Waterloo. He was at school with Kenny Everett and
he was injured when Everett carelessly threw a brick over a wall and hit him. Ahern acted as compère
for events at the Odeon Cinema's Saturday Club in Waterloo and then, in December 1963, he opened the
Teenbeat club in a local dance studio. He booked Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, but the club was
shut when residents complained of the noise. Ahern had a succession of day jobs, mostly working in a
furniture store, but he preferred his evening work, when he would present shows at local venues
for the promoter, Brian Kelly, and also, occasionally, he would work at the Cavern. In 1964, he applied to
join the pirate ship Radio Caroline and told them in his CV that he was the best DJ in the world. His audacity
won him an audition and then a regular spot on Radio Caroline North. He became very popular and was
then moved to Radio Caroline South, where he took over from Keith Skues.
"Mike was a very good choice for the mid-morning show," Skues recalls. "He had excellent presentation
and he knew how to pick records." Indeed: his signature tune was the highly distinctive "Buckeye" from
Johnny and the Hurricanes. Ahern thought that the recent film, The Boat That Rocked, painted a blissful
picture of life on board. They did not have a chef and Ahern was once dismissed, but soon reinstated, for
making a bacon sandwich at 10pm. Sometimes, he would leave the boat by climbing down a 40ft rope
ladder in a storm.
Coming on shore, Ahern was one of the first presenters of New Faces in 1966 and he was one of the initial
DJs at the launch of Radio 1 in September 1967. He co-presented Top Gear with Pete Drummond, and
although he performed competently, the BBC decided to stay with one presenter and he became the
first Radio 1 DJ to be dismissed.
Ahern moved to Australia and worked successfully on radio stations in Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne.
Returning to the UK in 1988, he worked for a number of BBC stations and also for Capital Gold. Earlier
this year, he was featured in Johnnie Walker's Radio 2 programme, Pirate BBC Essex.
Michael Ahern, disc jockey: born Liverpool 30 September 1942; married
(divorced, two children); died Norwich 5 October 2009