This former iHeart exec used to chase crazy partnerships on Bob Pittman’s jet, now he’s helping public radio take back power from Apple

Owen Grover

While many businesses are looking over their shoulders in fear at Amazon, the radio industry has its own boogeymen: Spotify and Apple.
One longtime former iHeart exec, Owen Grover, has spent more than a decade schooling broadcasting companies on how to survive in the age of music streaming.
Now he’s trying a new thing: helping public radio turn its podcasting success into a much bigger, grander scheme.

Owen Grover wants to help public radio take back power from tech giants like Apple and Spotify.

Grover is the new CEO of Pocket Casts, an Australian-born podcasting app bought by a consortium of public radio stations (and show producers) who create the nation’s most popular podcasts: NPR, WNYC Studios, WBEZ Chicago, and This American Life.

In April, Grover left his jet-setting lifestyle as an iHeart exec, and in May, he announced he’d been hired to lead an unusual new effort to help public radio get more control over the internet streaming game.

“I’m the digital guy, the one who is supposed to be the sky-is-falling guy,” he said. “But I’ve been a user of radio, and I understand the use cases. You’re not going to find someone who is the greater believer in the medium and what it stands for.”

Public radio has unquestionably mastered the world of podcast shows. And now its most powerful players are looking to Grover to help them gain an edge on companies like Apple and Spotify.

Bob Pittman in a Tom Ford suit

Grover spent over a decade at iHeart, starting while it was still known as Clear Channel. He joined before the company hired its current, famous CEO Bob Pittman, best known for creating MTV — as well as leading AOL Networks, Six Flags, and other media companies over the decades.

Grover’s job in those days was helping Clear Channel and its stations figure out the new world of websites and apps, going “hat in hand” to radio stations and convincing them the iHeart app would grow broadcasting.

“It was additive, in no way was it cannibalizing,” he said.

By 2010, with the economy in collapse and streaming on the rise, it was clear the investors were going to hire a new CEO.

Grover remembers fantasizing about the new leadership with his teammates.

“We knew the private equity guys, especially TH Lee, were going to bring in a new CEO,” Grover said. “We joked wouldn’t it be great if they hired a guy a like Bob Pittman? He was the CEO we had in our wildest dreams. We had no real hope he would come to us. Like that was the moonshot CEO of the digital guys.”

But in November, Pittman did indeed join as an investor and senior advisor (he would become CEO the next year) and he immediately pow-wowed with the existing digital team.

“He was wearing a Tom Ford suit, I’ll never forget it,” Grover recalled. In that meeting, Pittman “peppered us with questions.”

Pittman would soon change the company’s name to iHeartMedia and set out to build a digital consumer brand, with Grover in tow.

Six months …read more

Source:: Business Insider – Tech

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