Branch Rickey is the father of the Major League Baseball farm system.
Rickey was President of the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1920s and 30s. He noticed the good teams got that way because they paid big bucks to minor league teams for talent.
He also learned that if your team was financially weak buying good talent was out of the question. Those teams were doomed to the second division.
That was the Cardinal’s story to that point.
Rickey believed there was a better way to stock the roster.
It’s hard to imagine now, but the Cardinals were the worst team in St. Louis when Rickey came from the crosstown Browns in 1919.
Rickey joined the Cards at about the time the ban on Major League teams owning minor league teams was lifted.
The Cardinals also had a new owner with cash.
Rickey had ideas.
He envisioned the team owning its own minor league system able to stock the Cardinals with an endless supply of talent.
The Cards would eventually own or control 40 teams with over 800 players.
By the late 20s the Cardinal system was producing a steady stream of future Hall Of Fame players.
It was so powerful that the Commissioner tried to break up the Cardinal farm system several times.
The Cardinals scouted, signed, trained and prepared talent for jobs with the big club. They did their homework and always had players ready when an opening occurred in St. Louis.
Major League teams take the depth chart for granted today. But it was a huge innovation in Rickey’s day.
So who’s on your ‘depth chart’?
Radio stations can use a similar system for identifying and tracking future talent.
Here are some thoughts.
- Make a list of all your current talent.
- List your first line replacements for vacations or illness under main talent name.
- List who you would consider hiring if you had an opening tomorrow. These names go on the chart next.
- Add potential voice trackers to the list as potential emergency backup.
- Consider each role on the morning show. Have you identified potential replacements for each?
- Do you know who could be available in your market and what their non-compete agreement might be like?
- How much will it cost to replace a key player? What is the price range required to hire great replacement talent?
- Do this exercise for your news talk or sports station too. What network shows could you get? How can you upgrade?
Don’t be caught short when an opening occurs. Think ahead, and do your scouting well in advance.