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Stephen Nolan: 'The warm, authentic friend I admired as a listener was just the same in real life... Stephen Clements was one of us'

Stephen Clements on Nolan Live with Stephen Nolan last year
Stephen Clements on Nolan Live with Stephen Nolan last year

Stephen Nolan

The mark of a great radio host is that people don't think they know you - they do know you.

Radio was the perfect platform for Stephen because it always shines a light into the true soul of the presenter.

With television, there are enough bells and whistles to distract, but the intimacy of radio means you really do get to know who that person is as a human being.

And that is why there are so many heartfelt tributes from across Northern Ireland after the tragic news of Stephen's death.

He was one of us.

Sounded like, thought like and was one of us. He was immensely proud of Northern Ireland and we were proud of him.

Like many of you, I first met Stephen on the radio. A wave of warmth enticed me to tune in - and I couldn't stop listening.

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His show on Citybeat and Q was on in my car every day.

He was the presenter I wanted to meet in real life, he was the host getting better and funnier every day.

I quickly knew that I was listening to someone special. Many years later, my opinion hasn't changed. It happens now and again, but not that often. A special talent emerges and we all want to be on the journey with that person from Northern Ireland because ... they are one of us.

I remember reaching out to Stephen many years ago and telling him how much I admired his broadcasting ability.

We met soon after and I was delighted that the warm, authentic friend I admired as a listener was the same person in real life.

One of us.

There was so much to talk about. I was in awe of the features he had created - one of which was Through the Window.

It was risky, hilarious radio that no one else had the talent to get away with, except Stephen.

It wouldn't have been allowed on daytime radio with any other presenter. It was gloriously inappropriate radio, but it was also a laugh-out-loud listen, with its merciless banter about local household names.

And yet Stephen's personality made it so warm and homely that even the politicians being ridiculed would call his show - in admiration.

Why? Because he was one of us.

Many years ago, Stephen shared his dream with me - that he would one day work in the BBC.

We began plotting.

We would meet up, but refreshingly the chat was more about his family, his children, football and his encounters with listeners in the street rather than the BBC.

That's why he was destined to go far. Stephen had an authentic interest in real life, and when that was marinated with his natural broadcasting ability, it was potent.

I remember Stephen sharing the secret news with me that he had signed for the BBC. I could hardly contain myself with excitement. He described it as one of the proudest moments of his life.

He was slightly in awe of the BBC - as many of us lucky to work there still are.

He said he was confused when our boss at the BBC, Peter Johnston, told him he couldn't quite believe he had managed to sign Stephen Clements.

I remember the confused look on his face as he was telling me he couldn't understand why Peter would have said this.

I do. It was because of his humility that he didn't realise that we at BBC Northern Ireland were really, really lucky to have signed the biggest talent in commercial radio.

Stephen was destined to go far in BBC Northern Ireland. We really liked him . We really rated him. And we really wanted to be in his company. On air and off air. Because he was one of us.

Thank you, Stephen, for giving us so much laughter on the radio.

Thank you, Stephen, for being one of the greats in Northern Irish commercial radio.

Thank you, Stephen, for bringing your amazing talent to BBC Northern Ireland.

And as one of your loyal listeners, on behalf of us local punters, thank you for being true to yourself and forever being one of us.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, contact the Samaritans on 084 5790 9090, or Lifeline 080 8808 800

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