HTFC Radio broadcasts live commentary of Hitchin Town Football Club’s home and away matches.
Crewed entirely by a dedicated team of volunteers, an internet radio/audio live stream broadcast is provided for Hitchin fans, players, their families, plus the opposition fans. It is widely regarded as one of the best radio broadcasts at ‘non-league’ level.
Freddie Cardy and Marac Kolodzinski are the driving forces behind the initiative. Both passionate Hitchin Town supporters, each brings bags of enthusiasm and a unique set of skills. Marac, although now retired, has an audio engineering background. His career in the music industry as a sound engineer and studio owner means all things ‘technical’ fall within his remit. As well as co-commentating, Marac looks after audio mixing and ensuring server uploads remain stable.
“We’ve been running independently for three seasons now” Says Marac. “Everything has been self-funded. At first it was a bit of trial and error, trying different pieces of kit to see what worked best. But now we’re in a position to broadcast the full 90 minutes of commentary, plus 15 minutes of build up and a guest speaker at half time. We even capture clips from our commentary such as Hitchin goals for sharing on social media. The complete audio file is then uploaded as a podcast to Spotify and the Apple ecosystem. We rely on the stable broadband connection provided by IDNet for all home matches. They have set up wireless points around the ground, so we have good coverage everywhere.”
Lead commentary is delivered by Freddie Cardy. A talented communicator and self-confessed football geek, Freddie loves soccer stats and spends hours researching players and teams in preparation for matches. An extraordinary fact is that Freddie is just 18 years old. And having commentated on his first match at 14, he already sounds like a seasoned professional.
“We haven’t had any media training. Says Freddie “We’ve just learnt by listening to commentators on BBC 5 Live and talkSPORT. Luckily people seem to like what we do.”
He is about to embark on a sports journalism degree at the University of Derby which Freddie points out “is nicely located for many of Hitchin’s away games in the Midlands!”
So, who listens to HTFC Radio? The answer is both eclectic and surprising.
“Obviously local fans who can’t attend a match in person tune in” Says Freddie. “But we were delighted to learn that players also listen back to our commentary. Plus, their coaches dip in and out of recordings which adds pressure to be accurate. If we criticise or praise a player, we know this is likely to be scrutinised.”
Freddie continues “Parents and family members of players listen avidly. They take a lot of pride from the commentary, especially when we cover youth matches or debutantes from the senior squad.”
HTFC broadcasts are also appreciated by other clubs and their fans, many of which don’t have their own radio setups.
“We’ve built a good reputation around the league.” Remarks Freddie.
“Take the example of a midweek home match at Top Field, we will probably have more away fans listening than Hitchin fans. We get positive comments in the live chat function on the website from both sets of fans. Of course, we get plenty of banter, but they never complain that we are biased. Everyone appreciates our professional approach.”
Over the last three years, HTFC Radio has entertained listeners from as far away as Japan and Australia. Supporters on holiday listen in and local people who might have moved away and want to keep a connection with the club can now do so through this service.
Marac points out their biggest listenership numbers tend to be on away matches.
“Typically, a midweek match on a cold winter’s evening that’s several hours drive away will see our biggest radio audience. That’s when local fans need us most. But it’s also the most technically challenging. When we arrive at far flung grounds, sometimes in rural locations, there usually isn’t any power to charge our equipment or any local Wi-Fi. So, we are delighted that IDNet have offered to supply us with mobile Wi-Fi devices.”
In addition to providing fibre broadband at Top Field, IDNet have additionally provided HTFC radio with two mobile hotspot devices and two unlimited data plans so the broadcast team can connect whenever they are on the road.
IDNet director Tim Davies commented. “We hope this donation marks the start of a long term sponsorship partnership. We can see HTFC Radio has become a much-valued community resource helping to keep fans connected wherever they happen to be. It makes perfect sense for us to team up ensuring live match commentary can go ahead without interruption.”