The Early Days
I grew up in South Wales before moving to England, and I eventually returned to Wales almost 20 years ago after many years of living and working elsewhere in the UK, and other parts of the world!
My first real memory of listening to the radio, and being fascinated by it, was as a 10-year-old when a childminder had BBC Radio One on the wireless as she looked after my sister and I. That was when I first heard the likes of Tony Blackburn, DLT and Johnny Walker.
A few years later I was staying with relatives in London and watched a TV interview with Simon Dee in which Radio Caroline was mentioned, I was intrigued! In early 1974 I took possession of a Sobell Fidelio radio which had a special band reserved for Caroline 199 and Luxembourg 208.
I heard Radio Northsea International on this radio one night, and to be honest I sort of assumed it was from Norway, don’t ask me why! My wonderful mother, who was a keen radio listener herself, seeing my interest in broadcasting, very kindly bought me a Vega Selena radio. With this hefty piece of Iron Curtain audio engineering I was able to listen to stations from all over the world. I soon got interested in music, and started buying Record Mirror on a regular basis. There was a lot of coverage of the offshore radio stations in the music paper and after following the various clues within articles and small ads at the back I started regularly listening to Radio Caroline from Autumn 1975.
This was a period of high drama on the North Sea with the drifting, and the infamous raid on the Mi Amigo and I followed the story. The station was back soon after the raid and I continued to listen to both Radio Caroline and Radio Mi Amigo.
Away from listening to the offshore stations I did the usual school thing until I was 17, and then worked in the newspaper industry for seven years, mainly in the advertising and circulation fields.
My interest in offshore radio led me to becoming editor of the English language edition of Offshore Echos Magazine. Myself, B.Dom & Francois Lhote, two other members of the OEM team, hired a plane to fly over the new Radio Caroline ship, the Ross Revenge, when it first arrived off the English coast in 1983.
I eventually decided to leave the newspaper business, and in January 1987 I joined the Voice Of Peace offshore radio station. Working on the Peace Ship was quite an interesting experience and I learnt a lot, not just about radio, but life in general. I made many long-lasting friends on the VOP, and had a great time in Israel on shore leave!
In December 1987 I joined Radio Caroline shortly after the big tower had collapsed. It was a bad time to be onboard, but we had a good crew and plenty of supplies. During that winter we tidied up the ship, built various aerial systems, and kept things ticking over on the broadcasting front, although I really cannot say I liked the strict music and presentation format!
In late Summer 1988 I returned to the VOP for another few months before returning to the UK and then rejoining Radio Caroline just before Easter 1989. I appeared on both BBC TV and French TV in features about Radio Caroline. During this time I also presented, in terrible Dutch, some shows, and other on air bits, for the Dutch language Radio 819. It was really an exciting time to be onboard, although things soured dramatically when Radio Caroline’s new Programme Controller introduced a new music and presentation policy, and I decided to leave the station in protest!
However, whilst there was a struggle between rival parts of the Caroline organisation over formats and services, the British and Dutch authorities were hatching plans to destroy our beloved offshore stations. This culminated in the massive raid on the Ross Revenge in August 1989. Real life had begun to intrude by this time and I decided to settle down, get myself a proper job and do all the normal boring things that you eventually do!
Still having the bug for radio, I then did a few shows for Chris England’s Euronet satellite service, and over the next few years I helped out with various radio magazines, and eventually started my own publication, Playback, with backing from legendary Radio Atlantis and Caroline DJ Steve England of Alfasound who I had known for many years.
As time moved on I got involved in publishing a computer magazine, selling computer software, got married, became a father, so my interest in radio dropped a little, and it wasn’t until I started up an online radio station around 2010 that things reignited for me. I started one of the first English language radio stations on the Belgian-based Radionomy platform. Radio Welshbrook was a moderately successful rock station which lasted for about two years. It was followed by XeRW/Station X which played a lot of alternative oldies and Northern Soul music. Over the next four or five years I dabbled in other online services, but decided that being part of a bigger team was better, so looked for something suitable…
The Return To AM
2018 gave me the chance to work again on European AM radio stations, firstly on Radio Mi Amigo International where I worked with some old shipmates from offshore radio days. However, due to what was effectively a ‘Palace Coup’, I and others were put into a very difficult position, and we decided to leave. However, within a very short time I was offered the chance to join Friesland-based Radio Seabreeze where I presented a two-hour weekly programme on Friday evenings. The station has a legal AM licence as a well as an online service. I very much enjoyed doing these programmes, as apart from some sensible guidelines, there was also free choice in music output, as long as it fell between 1960 and 2000. Selecting music for the shows was always a pleasure, and I introduced a theme hour in which I played music with a connection to whatever subject I picked. One week it would be a name, another week it would be countries of the world, and so on. It was amazing to research and discover music that I had not heard before. Sadly pressures of time forced me to cease doing the shows in April 2019. I did find enough time to slowly digitise my music collection, and it was wonderful to rediscover some great music on vinyl and CD. In April 2020 after a bit of friendly persuasion I rejoined Radio Seabreeze, and currently present a two-hour Northern Soul music programme on Friday evenings.
I have a broad taste in music, but Tamla Motown and 60s Mod were my first real loves. This developed into a liking for Northern Soul after I bought a Vespa scooter in 1979 and went on runs to the English East Coast where discos usually played non-stop Northern Soul for the thousands of scooter riders that descended en masse on Bank Holiday weekends. However, punk rock, classic rock, and 80s pop also appeal to me, so my radio shows always feature a wide variety of quality music!
Now, what’s this about my nickname?
Mike K, otherwise known as Mike Davies on the VOP, and Mike Dixon on Radio Caroline. But often referred to as ‘Coconut’ on-air.
How did I come to be known as ‘Coconut’?
Well, it all started when I was about 18 and working for a newspaper company. I had been sunbathing and was quite heavily tanned, especially around my face. I also only shaved every few days, and my hair was always cut very short. One of the guys I worked with said he thought I looked a bit like a coconut one day. That’s it really, or so I thought…
Lets fast-forward to January 1987, and I am doing a programme on the VOP in the Eastern Mediterranean. I played a record by King Creole and the Coconuts, and I casually mentioned on-air after the record finished that I was once compared to a coconut because of my appearance.
I thought no more about it, until I went into the production studio after my show finished and was met with a shouted ‘Coconut’ by Dave Asher. Of course, he had heard my link on-air and as it was sort of required that we all had nicknames, mine was now to be ‘Coconut’.
So, that’s the true story of how I got my nickname. Of course over the years I have been given the occasional coconut by visitors to the radio ships, and there’s a few photos of me doing the rounds holding a coconut. All good fun really, but shows how easily a silly comment can become part of your life.