*By Brian Henry* Listeners have come to expect their podcasts free of charge. But Pocket Cast has still managed to become one of the leading podcast platforms as a paid app. The company was recently acquired by NPR, WNYC Studios, and WBEZ Chicago, in a move that CEO Owen Grover told Cheddar will only move the medium forward. Grover said that given public radio's commitment to its content, a partnership with his platform was a natural fit. "They felt like in order for us to build a sustainable path moving forward and to ensure that independent voices of all stripes will have an opportunity to perform and to succeed and to grow and reach the right audiences, it made sense for them to invest in a platform that touched users directly." Grover said Pocket Casts' relationship with its users is what distinguishes it from competitors like Apple ($APPL) Music and Spotify ($SPOT). "I hear a lot of people talking about algorithms a lot of people talk about machine learning. All of those things have a place," Grover said. "Podcasting is such an intimate, personal, human driven medium. Curation should be led by humans." With that in mind, Grover said users should come to see podcast recommendations as they would lovingly-curated mixtapes. "We take a very muscular approach to curation. We think about it not only it in terms of genres or segments of populations, we also think about it in terms of devices. Android users don't always look like iOS users. People who listen on the web have a very, very different complexion than the people who listen in their car." That business model is exactly how podcasting can continue to monetize. "People who have established these incredibly emotional, incredibly meaningful relationships with these creators ー some of them are going to be willing to have a direct relationship with those creators. Either pay them for content or become members or tip ー and we want to be there to connect, to allow that connected tissue to exist right where the user is listening to their favorite podcast. And that's the advantage we have." For full interview [click here](https://cheddar.com/videos/pocket-casts-forges-intimate-bonds-with-listeners).

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