Below is a transcript of Michael Hortin, the BBC Radio Lincolnshire sports producer and commentator who joined us for the last coffee morning on Friday 26 February.

Questioner:

As the local reporter for the club, you’ll get the vibes there at the moment. Do you think the Imps can go up?

Michael Hortin:

Yes, they certainly can. The only area that would worry me is fatigue with so many games being played. It’s a very young squad but on the other hand it’s the same for other clubs chasing promotion. The bigger clubs will have bigger squads I suppose but Michael and his squad have been outstanding so far and I see it continuing.

Q:

You’re in a unique position where commentary at the moment has to serve both IFollow viewers and radio listeners. Most commentators under traditional circumstances have to reach only one of those types of audiences. Those watching and those listening. How is this for you?

MH:

It’s not easy and that’s probably led to some of the comments you may have seen about our coverage. I think these are a minority though. Obviously, television commentary can have pauses where the action speaks for itself but we can’t do that. We try and be informative but take on board what people think under these current circumstances. BBC Radio Lincolnshire employee me, so that style of commentary remains the priority.

Q:

What is your professional background and your ambitions now in broadcasting?

MH:

I moved to Lincoln and started to work in radio in 1995. I think John Reames was chairman then. Frankly I’ve stayed longer because of Lincoln City. I love the club and its highs and lows. The Keith play-off years, the FA Cup run, and of course the last five years. I’m in my 50s now and I’m happy to stay here. I’ve had some great experiences working for the BBC including seven weeks in the Caribbean covering the cricket World Cup even if England were terrible in it. But I love Lincoln and Lincoln City so although I moved a lot in my youth it’s here where my heart is.

Q:

There’s been some comments about local radio coverage of Imps games generally and the bias shown by reporters. You and others have had some stick about the lack of opponent’s names too. What are your views on that?

MH:

Yes, I’ve had a few comments about this and to be honest it grates with me when I hear Imps players’ names pronounced wrongly by other local commentators. local radio people are allowed to be a little biased – I know I am and I will continue to be. It is local radio after all. I got an e mail from an Accrington fan saying I hardly named any of their guys. When I first started in radio, I used to quote lots of names but at BBC commentary courses we were persuaded not to do this. Stating lots of players names and then confirm he’s with the opposition as well it can be very confusing for the listener who won’t know them that well. It’s better to make sure the listener knows that, say, Accrington are attacking, than in the hustle and bustle of a match keeping identifying each player. I will though name an opponent quite often if there’s a Lincoln connection or a player is well known. Recently I listened to a national commentary on two clubs I knew not that much about. The commentator mostly referred to players names, and I hadn’t a clue which club was in possession. It kind of confirmed what I do at the moment is better, though I am always open minded enough to tweak things.   

Q:

You interview managers after a game – that must be a bit pressurised sometimes?

MH:

Yes it is. One former manager always looked like he almost wanted to kill me. Then later he didn’t even answer me at all. The Cowley’s were interesting because you could tell they sat and agreed what messages they wanted to get out after a game and they answered us clearly and in a composed way. Chris Sutton had his critics but was very honest. It’s important that we work at our relationship with managers. I’m lucky because I get a five-minute one-to-one interview with Michael Appleton on the lunchtime of each game day. He’s very honest too and great to work with.

Q:

What are your high moments and low moments of covering Lincoln City?

MH:

There’s so many. The final whistle that signified relegation at that home game against Aldershot was dreadful. The last five years have seen some amazing highs. Nathan Arnold’s goal against Ipswich wasn’t just a magical moment but it seems it was the real starting point for what was to follow. Sean Raggett’s goal at Burnley, Wembley….as I say there’s so many.

Q:

What do you think of Lincoln City fans?

MH:

I never tire of hearing away clubs marvel at Lincoln’s support away from home. The numbers that travel these days, up to Covid, is phenomenal. I remember once hearing Fulham took a couple of hundred to a game where they were riding high in the EPL, and at the same time Lincoln took thousands to their game.

Q:

Thommo is back with you now. What can you tell us about that?

MH:

Yes, it’s known he said a couple of things that saw him have to take a break. What he said got very badly reported in national papers and I’d refer everyone to the Lincolnshire Echo for a much better balanced and fairer account of things at the time. He did some work with the PFA and with a BBC trainer and he’s back behind a microphone. Is he the same? I’m not sure. We usually travel to games together to our match coverage away from home which was an extension of our banter of our day together. However, as we haven’t been travelling to away matches together because of Covid since he returned, when we start to maybe that will return.  Tommo may be slightly more guarded to be fair but he’s a great summariser.

Q:

Can you tell us about ‘Musicgate’ when some music was played over the air during a game recently?

MH:

Yes, we’re very sorry it happened. We have an ‘auto-player’ system which can be set up to play music and programmes at set times. A junior member of staff, driving the show for the first time in the studio hadn’t seen that line was selected. We did, though, manage to resolve it by half-time. What I would say is that our role at the station is to develop young people to hopefully go on to have good careers in radio. If that means slip-ups happen then so be it but we’re pleased to have the responsibility to train young people.

Q:

What do you think about the impact Clive Nates has had on the club?

MH:

It’s amazing to think that a guy living thousands of miles away has had such an effect at the club. He loves the fans and he ‘gets’ Lincoln in general. He’s got the manager appointments spot on. Danny and Nicky helped turn the club around, not just the team. Now he’s got Michael Appleton and Jez George in with a new recruitment policy and the development of quality young players. In short Imps fans really need to know how lucky they are in many, many ways.