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Building A Franchise

Midweek Motivator

100_100_timby Tim Moore


In the heat of the NFL championship run we gain insight as to how winning teams are built. The parallels to Radio are obvious and adaptable if you’re interested. Radio executives and programmers don’t need to know much about X’s and O’s; jet sweeps, bubble screens, or zone blocking schemes. That’s left for the serious Football “P-1” to ponder.

What we ought to notice is how and why some franchises are always there at the finish vying for the Super Bowl while others go years and decades without ever getting to the Division Championship, much less the big game. There are only two types of team-building: from within or from outside-in. Take for example the unremarkable franchise that was the San Francisco 49ers until Jim Harbaugh showed up. The team was an enigma-decent talent, some Pro-Bowl players like Joe Staley and Frank Gore-but the team never went anywhere, except home.

Harbaugh assessed his situation and became convinced the roster as such was not the problem. So while he made some upgrades in the offseason, most of the team’s massive improvement came from building within: he benched quarterback Alex Smith for Kevin Kaepernick. He imported Coordinators he felt were impact coaches, and essentially re-set the entire 49er locker room culture. Harbaugh was intolerant of any player who saw Football as a paycheck, insisting on 100 percent concentration from Mid Summer through the playoffs, which Harbaugh’s team made three of his four years there, including close losses in two Super Bowls. In short, Harbaugh and coaches like him have proven you can go from black hole to supernova in a year if you truly “get” player development. The 49ers weren’t built with golden draft choices or massive trading but instead a confluence of skill advancement and expectations.

Now think about Bill Belichik’s Patriots. Every year Belichik rebuilds his team. In the Pats’ win over the remarkable Baltimore Ravens, TV anchors Al Michaels and Chris Collingsworth shared a lot of back-story on several Patriot players who’d been cut, (one had even been on the “taxi squad”) and how miraculously every season, somehow New England found a combination that could compete in the post season, largely based on role players someone else didn’t want.

The incantation that “a tree is best measured once been cut down” may be appropriate in San Francisco as the team’s mercurial management names its next coach. The 49ers may retreat to mediocrity once Harbaugh’s shadow has faded and reappeared in Ann Arbor. Radio companies are very much like pro sports; All Access is filled with interesting daily updates on comings-and- goings. And the smart ownerships populated by great managers have the same choice pro sports claims; build from within or from the outside, but the one thing they must do is recognize talent, memorialize staff strengths and minimize its weaknesses.

In almost any market where good strategy and people-collecting is above the norm, incumbent format brands stay that way. They bend but seldom break. It’s not serendipity.

When we want to be the best at something it’s best to study those who are masters at it. Mike McCarthy, Bill Belichik, The Harbaugh brothers, John Fox, and Pete Carroll have something everyone wants. What are their common qualities and disciplines and is it possible to partially transfer them to your radio group? If you’re not making the Nielsen playoffs it’s time to reconsider how you’re building your team.

Tim Moore

Tim Moore

Managing Partner

Audience Development Group