The Early Days
I spent my early years in Cymru (Wales) before moving to England, and then Scotland. I eventually returned to Cymru twenty years ago after living and working elsewhere in the world.
My first real memory of listening to the radio, and being fascinated by it, was 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 the offshore station 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 the ship-based 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. There is an informative article on these radios here.
Listening to the radio got me interested in music, and I started buying the music newspaper Record Mirror on a regular basis. There was a lot of coverage of the offshore radio stations in the publication 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 its Dutch language sister station Radio Mi Amigo.
Away from listening to the offshore stations, and the many land-based free radio stations that broadcast on the 49 metre shortwave band, I did find time to attend secondary school until I was 17, and then started a career in the newspaper publishing industry.
My continuing interest in offshore radio led me to becoming editor of the English language edition of Offshore Echos Magazine. This publication is dedicated to coverage of the offshore radio scene, with interviews, news and features. 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 took up a contract with the Voice Of Peace. 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 through the VOP, and had a great time in Israel whilst on shore leave!
In December 1987 I joined Radio Caroline shortly after the big tower had collapsed. From a weather and engineering point of view it was a bad time to be onboard, but we had a good crew and plenty of supplies. During that winter and early spring 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 took up another contract with the VOP and returned to the Peace Ship for a few months. My plans to make a long-term visit to India with long-serving VOP crew member Radha Krishna came to nothing so I rejoined Radio Caroline just before Easter 1989. And around this time I appeared on both BBC TV and French TV in features about Radio Caroline’s 25th Birthday. I also presented, in terrible Dutch, some complete 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, under pressure, Radio Caroline’s new Programme Controller introduced a rather restrictive 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. Although Radio Caroline managed to return to the air from the Ross Revenge shortly afterwards, it was a shadow of its former self, and I never felt tempted to return to the station.
I then did a few shows for Chris England’s Euronet satellite radio station, and over the next few years I helped out with various radio magazines, and eventually started my own publication, Playback, with financial backing from legendary Radio Atlantis and Caroline DJ Steve England, who was the then joint owner of jingle producers Alfasound.
As time moved on I then got involved in publishing a computer magazine, and selling computer software. I got married, then became a father, and my interest in radio dropped a little. And it wasn’t until I started one of the first English language radio stations on the Belgian-based Radionomy platform in 2010 that the bug for radio came back. 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 series of two-hour weekly programmes on Friday evenings. The station operates two legally licensed AM transmitters covering the Northern Netherlands and Amsterdam. And is also available online in stereo. 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.
During the pandemic lockdown I was able to digitise my music collection, and it was wonderful to rediscover some great music on vinyl and CD. And in April 2020 after a bit of friendly persuasion I began presenting a weekly two-hour Soul show in addition to a one hour rock and pop music show.
Present Radio Work
In the summer of 2022 I decided to hang up my headphones and retire from doing regular shows to concentrate on some other interests. However, some unexpected ‘free time’ meant that from February 2023 I was able to recommence making weekly radio shows on a Wednesday evening for Radio Seabreeze. And following a one-off show during a tribute day to the Voice Of Peace, RadioPlus in Tel Aviv, Israel, offered me a Thursday evening slot on their station. I got a lot of positive response to my shows, and enjoyed making them. However, due to dreadful recent events in the Middle East I found it difficult to continue making these shows for RadioPlus, so I have ceased them for now. The suffering of all the innocent people in Israel and the Palestinian territories must end, and soon!
Recordings of the already broadcast shows on Radio Plus can be listened to via the links on this page
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?
I was 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…
Let us 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 throwaway comment can become part of your life.