A group of public radio companies acquires podcast app Pocket Casts

NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago and This American Life announced today that they’ve acquired Pocket Casts, a podcast app created by Australian developer Shifty Jelly.

That might sound like a lot of owners for one app, but the idea is to run Pocket Casts as a joint venture. And while former iHeartRadio executive Owen Grover is becoming CEO, NPR says the existing Pocket Casts team will remain in place, with founders Philip Simpson and Russell Ivanovic holding leadership roles in the company.

All four of the acquirers have released their own apps already, but buying Pocket Casts should give them another way to become more involved in distribution and reach listeners directly. (This seems to be a growing concern among all public radio organizations — in 2016, public radio marketplace PRX spun out a for-profit company called RadioPublic to focus on mobile apps.)

At the same time, NPR says Pocket Casts will continue to offer podcasts from a wide variety of producers.

Laura Walker, president and CEO of New York Public Radio (which includes WNYC Studios), said in the announcement:

Public radio has been at the vanguard of audio innovation and podcasting, bringing in new listeners, experimenting with new forms and topics, fostering engagement and community, and cultivating new talent in the industry. And yet despite this remarkable renaissance, the listening experience — particularly around discovery — has remained virtually unchanged. Pocket Casts will enable us to forge a closer relationship with our listeners, provide audiences with more ways to enjoy audio programming, and create a more tailored discovery experience that helps listeners find their next must-listen podcast.