facebook
twitter
copy link
99% Invisible

99% Invisible

facebook
twitter
copy link

Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we've just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars.

More

#Society & Culture

Episodes


The Power Broker #05: Brandy Zadrozny

This is the fourth official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. This week, Roman and Elliott also sit down with Brandy Zadrozny, a senior reporter for NBC News who covers misinformation, conspiracy theories, and the internet. Brandy recently finished The Power Broker, and she’s got a great perspective on what the book says about the press and its relationship to power, what has changed in journalism, and what has remained the same.On today’s show, Elliott Kalan and Roman Mars will cover the last section of Part 4 of the book (Chapters 21 through Chapter 24), discussing the major story beats and themes.The Power Broker #5: Brandy ZadroznyJoin the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

The Power Broker #05: Brandy Zadrozny

This is the fourth official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. This week, Roman and Elliott also sit down with Brandy Zadrozny, a senior reporter for NBC News who covers misinformation, conspiracy theories, and the internet. Brandy recently finished The Power Broker, and she’s got a great perspective on what the book says about the press and its relationship to power, what has changed in journalism, and what has remained the same.On today’s show, Elliott Kalan and Roman Mars will cover the last section of Part 4 of the book (Chapters 21 through Chapter 24), discussing the major story beats and themes.The Power Broker #5: Brandy ZadroznyJoin the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

02:11:53

18 May 24

582- Rocket Man

In the twentieth century, the jetpack became synonymous with the idea of a ‘futuristic society.’ Appearing in cartoons and magazines, it felt like a matter of time before people could ride a jetpack to work. But jetpacks never became a mainstream technology, leaving many to wonder... why did they fall off the radar? 582- Rocket Man

582- Rocket Man

In the twentieth century, the jetpack became synonymous with the idea of a ‘futuristic society.’ Appearing in cartoons and magazines, it felt like a matter of time before people could ride a jetpack to work. But jetpacks never became a mainstream technology, leaving many to wonder... why did they fall off the radar? 582- Rocket Man

40:20

14 May 24

581- It's Howdy Doody Time!

The Howdy Doody Show is one of those pieces of 1950s ephemera that has come to symbolize mid-century American childhood. For over a decade, every weeknight at 5pm, kids all across the country would sit down in front of their parents’ tiny televisions and take in the wild west adventures of Buffalo Bob and his puppet sidekick Howdy Doody.The show was disproportionately important in the history of television. It was the first television program to reach 1,000 episodes, one of the first shows to broadcast in color, and it pioneered new ways of marketing products to children. But in the early days of the medium, especially when Howdy Doody first started, the world of television was strange. In many ways, the story of Howdy Doody is the story of the weird, wild-west days of early TV. A story in which programmers, advertisers, artists and money men were inventing everything as they went along. Starting with what to put on television in the first place.581- It's Howdy Doody Time!

581- It's Howdy Doody Time!

The Howdy Doody Show is one of those pieces of 1950s ephemera that has come to symbolize mid-century American childhood. For over a decade, every weeknight at 5pm, kids all across the country would sit down in front of their parents’ tiny televisions and take in the wild west adventures of Buffalo Bob and his puppet sidekick Howdy Doody.The show was disproportionately important in the history of television. It was the first television program to reach 1,000 episodes, one of the first shows to broadcast in color, and it pioneered new ways of marketing products to children. But in the early days of the medium, especially when Howdy Doody first started, the world of television was strange. In many ways, the story of Howdy Doody is the story of the weird, wild-west days of early TV. A story in which programmers, advertisers, artists and money men were inventing everything as they went along. Starting with what to put on television in the first place.581- It's Howdy Doody Time!

37:16

7 May 24

579 BONUS- Towers of Silence: Vulture Conservation

Recently we published an episode called Towers of Silence. It's about how the Parsis in India are grappling with the loss of vultures and how it changed something very intimate and meaningful for the community. It was reported by our own Lasha Madan and it is epic and it is beautiful. So first of all, go listen to that story if you haven't heard it. It's so good. On the one hand, it's a very specific story, it's about a unique set of circumstances that happened to a very specific community. But it also feels universally relevant. Because it's a story about death and how we choose to transition out of this world. It's about how we might react when there’s a major cultural shift that we cannot control. And importantly it is about a keystone species collapse, which is something we are on track to see more of in these times. Lasha Madan collected a ton of information about vulture conservation in their reporting but it didn't quite fit into the original story that we wanted to tell but it's so vital and interesting that we're releasing this bonus episode to cover it all.

579 BONUS- Towers of Silence: Vulture Conservation

Recently we published an episode called Towers of Silence. It's about how the Parsis in India are grappling with the loss of vultures and how it changed something very intimate and meaningful for the community. It was reported by our own Lasha Madan and it is epic and it is beautiful. So first of all, go listen to that story if you haven't heard it. It's so good. On the one hand, it's a very specific story, it's about a unique set of circumstances that happened to a very specific community. But it also feels universally relevant. Because it's a story about death and how we choose to transition out of this world. It's about how we might react when there’s a major cultural shift that we cannot control. And importantly it is about a keystone species collapse, which is something we are on track to see more of in these times. Lasha Madan collected a ton of information about vulture conservation in their reporting but it didn't quite fit into the original story that we wanted to tell but it's so vital and interesting that we're releasing this bonus episode to cover it all.

32:18

3 May 24

580- Mr Yuk

Mr. Yuk is a neon green circular sticker with a cartoon face on it. His face is scrunched up with his eyes squeezed tight and his tongue is sticking out of its mouth. It's the face you make when you taste something disgusting. He's the pictorial embodiment of the sentiment of yuck. Aptly enough: he was designed to be the symbol for hazardous substances, aimed at deterring children from ingesting them. The idea what that if you saw a Mr. Yuk sticker on something around the house, it meant that that something was poison.Friend of the show, Gillian Jacobs, is a BIG FAN of Mr Yuk, who turns out to be a hometown hero of her beloved Pittsburgh, and talked Roman through the origins of the mean, green face that was meant to save children from their worst impulses.Plus, we revisit another story about warning symbols from our archive: the quest to find a symbol that would warn future humans of dangerous radiation 10,000 years in the future.Mr Yuk

580- Mr Yuk

Mr. Yuk is a neon green circular sticker with a cartoon face on it. His face is scrunched up with his eyes squeezed tight and his tongue is sticking out of its mouth. It's the face you make when you taste something disgusting. He's the pictorial embodiment of the sentiment of yuck. Aptly enough: he was designed to be the symbol for hazardous substances, aimed at deterring children from ingesting them. The idea what that if you saw a Mr. Yuk sticker on something around the house, it meant that that something was poison.Friend of the show, Gillian Jacobs, is a BIG FAN of Mr Yuk, who turns out to be a hometown hero of her beloved Pittsburgh, and talked Roman through the origins of the mean, green face that was meant to save children from their worst impulses.Plus, we revisit another story about warning symbols from our archive: the quest to find a symbol that would warn future humans of dangerous radiation 10,000 years in the future.Mr Yuk

56:15

30 Apr 24

579- Towers of Silence

Situated right in downtown Mumbai, India is an area of about 55 acres of dense, overgrown forest. In one of the most populous cities in the world, this is a place where peacocks roam freely -- a space out of time. This forest is protected by a religious community. It has survived in a relatively undeveloped state in the middle of this gargantuan city. Importantly, it’s also home to an ancient tradition in crisis -- one that is central to the lives (and deaths) of a particular population.There’s a certain point in this forest beyond which almost no one can step -- only special caretakers of these grounds can go any further. They go by many names: khandia, nassassalar, pallbearer, corpse bearer. Their work here is holy. They carry dead bodies to their final resting place – atop stone structures that stand gray against the lush green. These buildings are called Towers of Silence.Towers of Silence

579- Towers of Silence

Situated right in downtown Mumbai, India is an area of about 55 acres of dense, overgrown forest. In one of the most populous cities in the world, this is a place where peacocks roam freely -- a space out of time. This forest is protected by a religious community. It has survived in a relatively undeveloped state in the middle of this gargantuan city. Importantly, it’s also home to an ancient tradition in crisis -- one that is central to the lives (and deaths) of a particular population.There’s a certain point in this forest beyond which almost no one can step -- only special caretakers of these grounds can go any further. They go by many names: khandia, nassassalar, pallbearer, corpse bearer. Their work here is holy. They carry dead bodies to their final resting place – atop stone structures that stand gray against the lush green. These buildings are called Towers of Silence.Towers of Silence

01:11:25

23 Apr 24

The Power Broker #04: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

This is the fourth official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. Roman and Elliott also sit down with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the U.S. representative for New York's 14th congressional district, who describes the lasting impact Moses’ highways have made on her district, and her own philosophy when it comes to political power and bringing ambitious projects to life.On today’s show, Elliott Kalan and Roman Mars will cover the second section of Part 4 of the book (Chapters 16 through the end of Chapter 20), discussing the major story beats and themes.The Power Broker #4: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezJoin the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

The Power Broker #04: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

This is the fourth official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. Roman and Elliott also sit down with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the U.S. representative for New York's 14th congressional district, who describes the lasting impact Moses’ highways have made on her district, and her own philosophy when it comes to political power and bringing ambitious projects to life.On today’s show, Elliott Kalan and Roman Mars will cover the second section of Part 4 of the book (Chapters 16 through the end of Chapter 20), discussing the major story beats and themes.The Power Broker #4: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezJoin the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

02:39:33

19 Apr 24

578- Anything's Pastable: Eat Sauté Love

This week we're featuring an episode from The Sporkful's series on the creation of "Anything's Pastable," Dan Pashman's new pasta cookbook.Dan talks with Roman about how this massive project came to be and all the design decisions required to put together a cookbook.And then, in part two of “Anything’s Pastable,” Dan embarks on an epic trip across Italy in search of lesser-known pasta dishes — and to learn about the evolution of pasta more broadly. He starts in Rome, where food writer Katie Parla reveals a shocking truth about pasta. Then an Italian food historian challenges Dan’s thinking about carbonara. Finally, he heads south to meet a chef who was there when a regional specialty called spaghetti all’assassina (“assassin’s spaghetti”) was invented. All of this leads Dan to wonder: What does evolution look like in a food culture that’s so often depicted in sepia tones? And what’s his place in that process?Preorder Dan’s cookbook today (including signed copies), and see if he’s visiting a city near you on his tour of book signings and live podcast tapings with special guests! Follow Dan on Instagram to see photos and videos from the Anything’s Pastable journey.Anything's Pastable: Eat Sauté Love

578- Anything's Pastable: Eat Sauté Love

This week we're featuring an episode from The Sporkful's series on the creation of "Anything's Pastable," Dan Pashman's new pasta cookbook.Dan talks with Roman about how this massive project came to be and all the design decisions required to put together a cookbook.And then, in part two of “Anything’s Pastable,” Dan embarks on an epic trip across Italy in search of lesser-known pasta dishes — and to learn about the evolution of pasta more broadly. He starts in Rome, where food writer Katie Parla reveals a shocking truth about pasta. Then an Italian food historian challenges Dan’s thinking about carbonara. Finally, he heads south to meet a chef who was there when a regional specialty called spaghetti all’assassina (“assassin’s spaghetti”) was invented. All of this leads Dan to wonder: What does evolution look like in a food culture that’s so often depicted in sepia tones? And what’s his place in that process?Preorder Dan’s cookbook today (including signed copies), and see if he’s visiting a city near you on his tour of book signings and live podcast tapings with special guests! Follow Dan on Instagram to see photos and videos from the Anything’s Pastable journey.Anything's Pastable: Eat Sauté Love

44:43

16 Apr 24

577- The Society of Ambiance Makers and Elegant Persons

Hailing from central African cities of Brazzaville and Kinshasa, sapeurs have become increasingly recognizable around the world. Since the 1970s, sapeurs (from: le sape, short for "Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes") have been known for donning technicolored three-piece suits with flamboyant accessories like golden walking sticks and leopard-print fedoras, and then cat-walking through their city streets.In recent years, Solange, Kendrick and SZA have all featured sapeurs in their music videos. The iconic British menswear designer Paul Smith did a whole spring line of sapeur-inspired suits and bowler hats.The Society of Ambiance Makers and Elegant Persons

577- The Society of Ambiance Makers and Elegant Persons

Hailing from central African cities of Brazzaville and Kinshasa, sapeurs have become increasingly recognizable around the world. Since the 1970s, sapeurs (from: le sape, short for "Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes") have been known for donning technicolored three-piece suits with flamboyant accessories like golden walking sticks and leopard-print fedoras, and then cat-walking through their city streets.In recent years, Solange, Kendrick and SZA have all featured sapeurs in their music videos. The iconic British menswear designer Paul Smith did a whole spring line of sapeur-inspired suits and bowler hats.The Society of Ambiance Makers and Elegant Persons

35:18

9 Apr 24

576- Chambre de Bonne

A chambre de bonne is usually one small room, on the top floor of a five- or six-story apartment building, and it’s usually just big enough to fit a bed and a table. It’s affordable housing in a city where finding housing is nearly impossible. Reporter Jeanne Boëzec tells about the history of the chambre de bonne apartments, and how while cute, they are also cramped and can be unpleasant spaces for people who have to live there, a living embodiment of the gap between the rich in Paris and everyone else.Chambre de Bonne

576- Chambre de Bonne

A chambre de bonne is usually one small room, on the top floor of a five- or six-story apartment building, and it’s usually just big enough to fit a bed and a table. It’s affordable housing in a city where finding housing is nearly impossible. Reporter Jeanne Boëzec tells about the history of the chambre de bonne apartments, and how while cute, they are also cramped and can be unpleasant spaces for people who have to live there, a living embodiment of the gap between the rich in Paris and everyone else.Chambre de Bonne

33:22

2 Apr 24

Roman Mars Describes Athens GA As It Is

This is the third and final episode in a three-part series of Roman Mars recording on-location guides to the design features and interesting spots in cities he loves. Roman moved to Athens, Georgia, to pursue a PhD in plant genetics, but dropped out and got into the local music and art scene instead, and started making his way toward radio.Roman Mars Describes Athens GA As It IsNote: This series is made possible by the all-new 2024 Lexus GX and SiriusXM. 

Roman Mars Describes Athens GA As It Is

This is the third and final episode in a three-part series of Roman Mars recording on-location guides to the design features and interesting spots in cities he loves. Roman moved to Athens, Georgia, to pursue a PhD in plant genetics, but dropped out and got into the local music and art scene instead, and started making his way toward radio.Roman Mars Describes Athens GA As It IsNote: This series is made possible by the all-new 2024 Lexus GX and SiriusXM. 

36:50

29 Mar 24

575- Autism Pleasantville

A few years back, journalist Lauren Ober was diagnosed with autism. She then made a podcast about her experience called The Loudest Girl in the World. And she found herself imagining a fantasy world where everything is tailored to Lauren’s very specific autistic needs. And she called this magical imagined place, wonderfully devoid of overwhelming stimuli "Autism Pleasantville.""Obviously," Ober notes, "there’s not a one-size fits all diagnosis or even definition of autism ... as the autism adage goes: 'If you know one autistic person…you know one autistic person.' But despite our wide variety of needs, I wanted to know how design is evolving to better accommodate us" -- how were ideals being handled in the real world.Autism Pleasantville 

575- Autism Pleasantville

A few years back, journalist Lauren Ober was diagnosed with autism. She then made a podcast about her experience called The Loudest Girl in the World. And she found herself imagining a fantasy world where everything is tailored to Lauren’s very specific autistic needs. And she called this magical imagined place, wonderfully devoid of overwhelming stimuli "Autism Pleasantville.""Obviously," Ober notes, "there’s not a one-size fits all diagnosis or even definition of autism ... as the autism adage goes: 'If you know one autistic person…you know one autistic person.' But despite our wide variety of needs, I wanted to know how design is evolving to better accommodate us" -- how were ideals being handled in the real world.Autism Pleasantville 

32:46

27 Mar 24

574- The Monster Under the Sink

In the middle of the 20th century, the small town of Jasper, Indiana did something that no other city had done before: they made garbage illegal. The city would still collect some things, like soup cans and plastics, but yucky junk, like food waste, wouldn't get picked up.This change was made possible by a new appliance: the garbage disposer – that little grinding machine at the bottom of a lot of kitchen sinks.The Monster Under the Sink

574- The Monster Under the Sink

In the middle of the 20th century, the small town of Jasper, Indiana did something that no other city had done before: they made garbage illegal. The city would still collect some things, like soup cans and plastics, but yucky junk, like food waste, wouldn't get picked up.This change was made possible by a new appliance: the garbage disposer – that little grinding machine at the bottom of a lot of kitchen sinks.The Monster Under the Sink

27:05

19 Mar 24

The Power Broker #03: David Sims

This is the third official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. Blank Check podcast co-host and The Atlantic movie critic David Sims is our book club guest.On today’s show, Elliott Kalan, Roman Mars, and David Sims will cover the first section of Part 4 of the book (Chapters 11 through the end of Chapter 15), discussing the major story beats and themes.The Power Broker #3: David SimsJoin the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

The Power Broker #03: David Sims

This is the third official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. Blank Check podcast co-host and The Atlantic movie critic David Sims is our book club guest.On today’s show, Elliott Kalan, Roman Mars, and David Sims will cover the first section of Part 4 of the book (Chapters 11 through the end of Chapter 15), discussing the major story beats and themes.The Power Broker #3: David SimsJoin the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

02:07:00

15 Mar 24

573- Toyetic

This year marks the 40th anniversary of a lot of landmarks in pop culture, especially sci-fi and fantasy. So many franchises were born in 1984. Some came to define the genre or invent new genres. The great podcast Imaginary Worlds noticed this and produced a three-part series about 1984's Cambrian explosion of creativity that  landed on the big screen, the small screen, bookstore shelves and, of course, the toy store.In this episode we learn about at two iconic franchises that launched in 1984: Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They came from opposite ends of the business spectrum. Transformers was a top-down marketing synergy between American and Japanese toy companies along with Marvel Comics to compete against He-Man -- another TV toy behemoth. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle would eventually rival them in cultural dominance, but it began with two indie comic book creators making a black and white comic as a lark. But Turtles and Transformers both ended up wrestling with similar questions around what happens when you put the cart before the horse in creating content to sell products.Toyetic

573- Toyetic

This year marks the 40th anniversary of a lot of landmarks in pop culture, especially sci-fi and fantasy. So many franchises were born in 1984. Some came to define the genre or invent new genres. The great podcast Imaginary Worlds noticed this and produced a three-part series about 1984's Cambrian explosion of creativity that  landed on the big screen, the small screen, bookstore shelves and, of course, the toy store.In this episode we learn about at two iconic franchises that launched in 1984: Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They came from opposite ends of the business spectrum. Transformers was a top-down marketing synergy between American and Japanese toy companies along with Marvel Comics to compete against He-Man -- another TV toy behemoth. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle would eventually rival them in cultural dominance, but it began with two indie comic book creators making a black and white comic as a lark. But Turtles and Transformers both ended up wrestling with similar questions around what happens when you put the cart before the horse in creating content to sell products.Toyetic

39:12

13 Mar 24

572- WARNING: This Podcast Contains Chemicals Known to the State of California to Cause Cancer or Other Reproductive Harm

Intimidating Proposition 65 warnings can be found on all kinds of products manufactured or distributed in the State of California. They can seem rather terrifying at first, but within the state, they are ubiquitous, on everyday objects from power tools to potato chips, dietary supplements, leather jackets, gas pumps, coffee tables, the list goes on. All of which raises the question: if these labels are on so many things, are they actually useful in warning us of real dangers?572- WARNING: This Podcast Contains Chemicals Known to the State of California to Cause Cancer or Other Reproductive Harm

572- WARNING: This Podcast Contains Chemicals Known to the State of California to Cause Cancer or Other Reproductive Harm

Intimidating Proposition 65 warnings can be found on all kinds of products manufactured or distributed in the State of California. They can seem rather terrifying at first, but within the state, they are ubiquitous, on everyday objects from power tools to potato chips, dietary supplements, leather jackets, gas pumps, coffee tables, the list goes on. All of which raises the question: if these labels are on so many things, are they actually useful in warning us of real dangers?572- WARNING: This Podcast Contains Chemicals Known to the State of California to Cause Cancer or Other Reproductive Harm

42:39

5 Mar 24

Roman Mars Describes Santa Fe As It Is

Roman Mars is on a mission to describe the cities that shaped who he is and how he thinks about design. Next up, Santa Fe. Santa Fe wasn’t always on the proverbial map — in fact, the Santa Fe railroad just passed it on by. A lot of care has been taken to keep Santa Fe cute and quaint over its history, with steps to preserve native architecture and historical design. The result is a mixture of structures old and new, but mostly made to look old, for better or worse.Roman Mars Describes Santa Fe As It IsNote: This series is made possible by the all-new 2024 Lexus GX and SiriusXM. 

Roman Mars Describes Santa Fe As It Is

Roman Mars is on a mission to describe the cities that shaped who he is and how he thinks about design. Next up, Santa Fe. Santa Fe wasn’t always on the proverbial map — in fact, the Santa Fe railroad just passed it on by. A lot of care has been taken to keep Santa Fe cute and quaint over its history, with steps to preserve native architecture and historical design. The result is a mixture of structures old and new, but mostly made to look old, for better or worse.Roman Mars Describes Santa Fe As It IsNote: This series is made possible by the all-new 2024 Lexus GX and SiriusXM. 

33:21

2 Mar 24

438- The Real Book [rebroadcast]

Since the mid-1970s, almost every jazz musician has owned a copy of the same book. It has a peach-colored cover, a chunky, 1970s-style logo, and a black plastic binding. It’s delightfully homemade-looking—like it was printed by a bunch of teenagers at a Kinkos. And inside is the sheet music for hundreds of common jazz tunes—also known as jazz “standards”—all meticulously notated by hand. It’s called the Real Book. But if you were going to music school in the 1970s, you couldn’t just buy a copy of the Real Book at the campus bookstore. Because the Real Book... was illegal. The world’s most popular collection of Jazz music was a totally unlicensed publication. The full story of how the Real Book came to be this bootleg bible of jazz is a complicated one. It’s a story about what happens when an insurgent, improvisational art form like Jazz gets codified and becomes something that you can learn from a book.The Real BookThis episode originally aired in April 2021Roman note: I love this episode. An all time favorite. Pass it along to someone jazzy if so inclined.

438- The Real Book [rebroadcast]

Since the mid-1970s, almost every jazz musician has owned a copy of the same book. It has a peach-colored cover, a chunky, 1970s-style logo, and a black plastic binding. It’s delightfully homemade-looking—like it was printed by a bunch of teenagers at a Kinkos. And inside is the sheet music for hundreds of common jazz tunes—also known as jazz “standards”—all meticulously notated by hand. It’s called the Real Book. But if you were going to music school in the 1970s, you couldn’t just buy a copy of the Real Book at the campus bookstore. Because the Real Book... was illegal. The world’s most popular collection of Jazz music was a totally unlicensed publication. The full story of how the Real Book came to be this bootleg bible of jazz is a complicated one. It’s a story about what happens when an insurgent, improvisational art form like Jazz gets codified and becomes something that you can learn from a book.The Real BookThis episode originally aired in April 2021Roman note: I love this episode. An all time favorite. Pass it along to someone jazzy if so inclined.

41:43

27 Feb 24

Significant Others: A Sneak Peek at the Woman Behind Benedict Arnold’s Betrayal

It’s been said that history is written by the person at the typewriter. But who did the person who made history depend on? Often, it’s impossible to find out. But once in a while, we get lucky, and the story was not only recorded, it’s really good.Well that’s what this podcast is all about. “Significant Others” is a show that tells a story you might not know about a person you probably do.For example, in this episode we explore how Benedict Arnold might never have turned on his country were it not for his wife, Peggy, who influenced his betrayal.Head over to Significant Others to listen to the rest of the episode and to other stories like how Amelia Earhart would neither have found fame nor, possibly, disappeared over the Pacific, had it not been for her husband, George Putnam, or who is really to blame for Friedrich Nietzsche’s connection to Nazism. Listen and subscribe to “Significant Others” wherever you get your podcasts.

Significant Others: A Sneak Peek at the Woman Behind Benedict Arnold’s Betrayal

It’s been said that history is written by the person at the typewriter. But who did the person who made history depend on? Often, it’s impossible to find out. But once in a while, we get lucky, and the story was not only recorded, it’s really good.Well that’s what this podcast is all about. “Significant Others” is a show that tells a story you might not know about a person you probably do.For example, in this episode we explore how Benedict Arnold might never have turned on his country were it not for his wife, Peggy, who influenced his betrayal.Head over to Significant Others to listen to the rest of the episode and to other stories like how Amelia Earhart would neither have found fame nor, possibly, disappeared over the Pacific, had it not been for her husband, George Putnam, or who is really to blame for Friedrich Nietzsche’s connection to Nazism. Listen and subscribe to “Significant Others” wherever you get your podcasts.

07:21

23 Feb 24

571- You Are What You Watch

What we see on screen has this way of influencing our perception of the world, which makes sense because the average American spends 2 hours and 51 minutes watching movies and TV each day. That’s a whopping 19 percent of our waking hours. Walt Hickey is a data journalist and author of a new book called You Are What You Watch. In it, Walt makes a case for how much film and television shapes us as individuals and as a society, far beyond what we give it credit for.You Are What You Watch

571- You Are What You Watch

What we see on screen has this way of influencing our perception of the world, which makes sense because the average American spends 2 hours and 51 minutes watching movies and TV each day. That’s a whopping 19 percent of our waking hours. Walt Hickey is a data journalist and author of a new book called You Are What You Watch. In it, Walt makes a case for how much film and television shapes us as individuals and as a society, far beyond what we give it credit for.You Are What You Watch

31:15

21 Feb 24

The Power Broker #02: Jamelle Bouie

This is the second official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. New York Times political columnist Jamelle Bouie is our book club guest.On today’s show, Elliott Kalan and Roman Mars will cover Part 3 of the book (Chapters 6 through the end of Chapter 10), discussing the major story beats and themes, with occasional asides from Jamelle Bouie guiding us through the politics of the era.The Power Broker #2: Jamelle BouieJoin the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

The Power Broker #02: Jamelle Bouie

This is the second official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. New York Times political columnist Jamelle Bouie is our book club guest.On today’s show, Elliott Kalan and Roman Mars will cover Part 3 of the book (Chapters 6 through the end of Chapter 10), discussing the major story beats and themes, with occasional asides from Jamelle Bouie guiding us through the politics of the era.The Power Broker #2: Jamelle BouieJoin the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

01:45:20

16 Feb 24

570- The White Castle System of Eating Houses

White Castle has its own take on fast food hamburgers. For starters, the patties are square, with five holes in each patty. And they’re small, too –- two-and-a-half inch sliders. Just big enough to fit into the palm of your hand. And since they’re steamed on a bed of onions, everything is infused with this very specific onion-esque flavor.Today, White Castles can be hard to find, depending on where you live. But KCUR's Mackenzie Martin, a producer at A People's History of Kansas City, says that it’s time to stop thinking of White Castle as a semi-obscure cultural punchline, because over a century ago, White Castle invented something that became so important and all-encompassing that, today, it touches pretty much every person in America. Sometimes several times a day. Something that, in other countries, has almost come to define American culture: it has a strong claim to being the first fast-food restaurant.The White Castle System of Eating Houses

570- The White Castle System of Eating Houses

White Castle has its own take on fast food hamburgers. For starters, the patties are square, with five holes in each patty. And they’re small, too –- two-and-a-half inch sliders. Just big enough to fit into the palm of your hand. And since they’re steamed on a bed of onions, everything is infused with this very specific onion-esque flavor.Today, White Castles can be hard to find, depending on where you live. But KCUR's Mackenzie Martin, a producer at A People's History of Kansas City, says that it’s time to stop thinking of White Castle as a semi-obscure cultural punchline, because over a century ago, White Castle invented something that became so important and all-encompassing that, today, it touches pretty much every person in America. Sometimes several times a day. Something that, in other countries, has almost come to define American culture: it has a strong claim to being the first fast-food restaurant.The White Castle System of Eating Houses

42:59

13 Feb 24

569- Between the Blocks

Seen from above, Sofia, Bulgaria, looks less like a city and more like a forest. Large "interblock park" green spaces between big apartment structures are a defining characteristic of the city. They're not so much "parks" in the formal sense, with fences and gates, just open green areas growing up in interstitial spaces left behind.But as green as it still looks today, Sofia used to be even greener.  Since the fall of Bulgarian communism in the late 1980s, Sofia has lost more than half of its green space. To understand why, one has to look back to how the city evolved and grew in the Soviet era.Between the Blocks

569- Between the Blocks

Seen from above, Sofia, Bulgaria, looks less like a city and more like a forest. Large "interblock park" green spaces between big apartment structures are a defining characteristic of the city. They're not so much "parks" in the formal sense, with fences and gates, just open green areas growing up in interstitial spaces left behind.But as green as it still looks today, Sofia used to be even greener.  Since the fall of Bulgarian communism in the late 1980s, Sofia has lost more than half of its green space. To understand why, one has to look back to how the city evolved and grew in the Soviet era.Between the Blocks

33:38

6 Feb 24

568- Don't Forget to Remember

When a highway gets made, there’s a clear and consistent process for doing so. Not so, public memorials. From the Vietnam Wall to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, it’s always different. Sometimes a handful of concerned citizens get together and make it happen. Sometimes a nonprofit pushes for it, or a foundation. There’s usually a lot of activism, and a lot of fraught conversations – about design, location, the story it should tell about what happened, and who it affected. And how does one memorialize such a vast and distributed tragedy like COVID-19,  which was devastating physically but also divisive politically?Don't Forget to Remember

568- Don't Forget to Remember

When a highway gets made, there’s a clear and consistent process for doing so. Not so, public memorials. From the Vietnam Wall to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, it’s always different. Sometimes a handful of concerned citizens get together and make it happen. Sometimes a nonprofit pushes for it, or a foundation. There’s usually a lot of activism, and a lot of fraught conversations – about design, location, the story it should tell about what happened, and who it affected. And how does one memorialize such a vast and distributed tragedy like COVID-19,  which was devastating physically but also divisive politically?Don't Forget to Remember

39:44

30 Jan 24

Roman Mars Describes Chicago As It Is

A few years ago, at the very start of the pandemic, Roman Mars wrote an episode of 99pi in which he simply talked about design details in his house -- realizing that he, like the audience, didn't have many other places to go.  (You should check it out. It's called "Roman Mars Describes Things As They Are"-- it’s a real time capsule and a fan favorite.) Since then, he's been thinking about and wanting to record a companion episode out in the world.Over the next couple months, he's going to three cities that shaped who Roman is and how he thinks about design. We'll start in Chicago. Chicago is a design lover's paradise, from its carefully thought-out original grid to its exceptionally stellar flag design. The city is home to some of the most influential architecture in the US as well.Roman Mars Describes Chicago As It IsNote: This series is made possible by the all-new 2024 Lexus GX and SiriusXM. 

Roman Mars Describes Chicago As It Is

A few years ago, at the very start of the pandemic, Roman Mars wrote an episode of 99pi in which he simply talked about design details in his house -- realizing that he, like the audience, didn't have many other places to go.  (You should check it out. It's called "Roman Mars Describes Things As They Are"-- it’s a real time capsule and a fan favorite.) Since then, he's been thinking about and wanting to record a companion episode out in the world.Over the next couple months, he's going to three cities that shaped who Roman is and how he thinks about design. We'll start in Chicago. Chicago is a design lover's paradise, from its carefully thought-out original grid to its exceptionally stellar flag design. The city is home to some of the most influential architecture in the US as well.Roman Mars Describes Chicago As It IsNote: This series is made possible by the all-new 2024 Lexus GX and SiriusXM. 

37:07

26 Jan 24

567- The Double Kick

Watch a skate video today, and you'll notice how similarly shaped the boards are. It’s called the “popsicle” design, because the deck is narrow in the middle and rounded off at both ends, like a popsicle stick. This may seem stupid simple, but that basic, clean popsicle shape is actually the product of a lot of experimentation and iteration. In 1989, one particular board would cement skateboard design as we know it. But to understand it, we have to go back over a decade to the mid-70s, as more and more money poured into the growing sport.The Double Kick 

567- The Double Kick

Watch a skate video today, and you'll notice how similarly shaped the boards are. It’s called the “popsicle” design, because the deck is narrow in the middle and rounded off at both ends, like a popsicle stick. This may seem stupid simple, but that basic, clean popsicle shape is actually the product of a lot of experimentation and iteration. In 1989, one particular board would cement skateboard design as we know it. But to understand it, we have to go back over a decade to the mid-70s, as more and more money poured into the growing sport.The Double Kick 

51:47

24 Jan 24

The Power Broker #01: Robert Caro

Welcome to our first official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. Robert Caro happens to be our special guest for this episode and you do not get more special than that.On today’s show, Elliott Kalan and Roman Mars will cover the Introduction, Part 1, and Part 2 of the book (the intro through the end of Chapter 5), discussing the major story beats and themes, and then we will bring the great Robert Caro to the stage. Power Broker #1: Robert CaroJoin the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

The Power Broker #01: Robert Caro

Welcome to our first official episode, breaking down the 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Power Broker by our hero Robert Caro. Robert Caro happens to be our special guest for this episode and you do not get more special than that.On today’s show, Elliott Kalan and Roman Mars will cover the Introduction, Part 1, and Part 2 of the book (the intro through the end of Chapter 5), discussing the major story beats and themes, and then we will bring the great Robert Caro to the stage. Power Broker #1: Robert CaroJoin the discussion on Discord and our Subreddit

01:33:17

19 Jan 24

566- Imitation Nation

Fake cities. Imitation nations. People role-playing as civilians, spies, or enemies, complete with costumes and props. It's all part of an effort coordinated and constructed by the U.S. military to prepare soldiers for war. Fake villages designed for training purposes dot the entire United States, not to mention other countries. Researchers have identified over 400 of them around the world.Imitation Nation

566- Imitation Nation

Fake cities. Imitation nations. People role-playing as civilians, spies, or enemies, complete with costumes and props. It's all part of an effort coordinated and constructed by the U.S. military to prepare soldiers for war. Fake villages designed for training purposes dot the entire United States, not to mention other countries. Researchers have identified over 400 of them around the world.Imitation Nation

34:30

16 Jan 24

565- Mini-Stories: Volume 18

Our second and final set of mini-stories for the season: We'll be covering upside-down construction, the linguistics of filler and a fire that has been burning for decades.Check out Lizzie No's latest album Halfsies on Band Camp.  She's on tour in 2024. Go see her and say hi for me!Mini-Stories 18

565- Mini-Stories: Volume 18

Our second and final set of mini-stories for the season: We'll be covering upside-down construction, the linguistics of filler and a fire that has been burning for decades.Check out Lizzie No's latest album Halfsies on Band Camp.  She's on tour in 2024. Go see her and say hi for me!Mini-Stories 18

34:53

9 Jan 24

470- Another Visit from the Three Santas of Slovenia

We're revisiting this Christmas classic from 2021. Happy Holidays!Slovenia is a small country in Central Europe nestled between Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary. It's a land of snowy white peaks, green valleys, and turquoise rivers. The country is beautiful in all seasons, but it is perhaps at its most magical around Christmastime. This nation of just over 2 million people is visited by, not one, not two, but three different "santas" every festive season. But it hasn't always been this way. Each Santa has had his moment in the spotlight—each in a different period of Slovenia’s complicated history. And in order to have a Christmas season that reflects that history and speaks to all Slovenians, you need three magical men.The Three Santas of Slovenia

470- Another Visit from the Three Santas of Slovenia

We're revisiting this Christmas classic from 2021. Happy Holidays!Slovenia is a small country in Central Europe nestled between Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary. It's a land of snowy white peaks, green valleys, and turquoise rivers. The country is beautiful in all seasons, but it is perhaps at its most magical around Christmastime. This nation of just over 2 million people is visited by, not one, not two, but three different "santas" every festive season. But it hasn't always been this way. Each Santa has had his moment in the spotlight—each in a different period of Slovenia’s complicated history. And in order to have a Christmas season that reflects that history and speaks to all Slovenians, you need three magical men.The Three Santas of Slovenia

38:37

26 Dec 23

564- Mini-Stories: Volume 17

It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's mini-stories season! Gather the kids around the fire because We have a year-end mix of short stories about a rogue architect, spooky kitchens, a hundred year old music streaming service, and the crazy way the French tried to make telling time less crazy.Today's episode featured a story from Sound Detectives. Listen to Sound Detectives on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and go to sounddetectivespodcast.com to find coloring pages, sound terms, and more.Mini-Stories: Volume 17

564- Mini-Stories: Volume 17

It's the most wonderful time of the year. It's mini-stories season! Gather the kids around the fire because We have a year-end mix of short stories about a rogue architect, spooky kitchens, a hundred year old music streaming service, and the crazy way the French tried to make telling time less crazy.Today's episode featured a story from Sound Detectives. Listen to Sound Detectives on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts, and go to sounddetectivespodcast.com to find coloring pages, sound terms, and more.Mini-Stories: Volume 17

48:05

20 Dec 23

563- Empire of the Sum

Keeping track of numbers has always been part of what makes us human. So at some point along the way, we created a tool to help us keep count, and then we gave that tool a name. We called it: a calculator. But depending on what era you were born in, and maybe even what country, what constituted a 'calculator' varied widely.Keith Houston wrote about the evolution of the calculator in his latest book, Empire of the Sum The Rise and Reign of the Pocket Calculator. It is exactly the kind of nerdery we like to get up to here at 99% Invisible -- history explained through the lens of an everyday designed object.Empire of the Sum

563- Empire of the Sum

Keeping track of numbers has always been part of what makes us human. So at some point along the way, we created a tool to help us keep count, and then we gave that tool a name. We called it: a calculator. But depending on what era you were born in, and maybe even what country, what constituted a 'calculator' varied widely.Keith Houston wrote about the evolution of the calculator in his latest book, Empire of the Sum The Rise and Reign of the Pocket Calculator. It is exactly the kind of nerdery we like to get up to here at 99% Invisible -- history explained through the lens of an everyday designed object.Empire of the Sum

33:41

13 Dec 23

562- Breaking Down The Power Broker (with Conan O'Brien)

Today's episode features #1 Robert Caro superfan, Conan O'Brien.The Power Broker by Robert Caro is a biography of Robert Moses, who is said to have built more structures and moved more earth than anyone in human history. And he did it without ever holding elected office. Outside of New York City, Robert Moses wasn't exceptionally well known. Inside of New York, he was mostly accepted by the media as simply the man who built all those nice parks. But The Power Broker, which is subtitled Robert Moses and The Fall of New York, changed all that. It is a tour de force of journalism, history, and biography. Roman also argues it's really fun to read and is strongly in contention for the best book ever written.But there is something of a catch, which can hang readers up: the book is a daunting 1200 pages long. As influential and amazing as this bestseller is, many people own an unopened copy gathering dust on their bookshelf. But that is a crime because this book needs to be read or at least discussed at length on a podcast.Roman Mars and Elliott Kalan (Flop House, Daily Show) are starting The Power Broker book club that will run through all of 2024 as bonus episodes and in this introductory episode, Conan O'Brien joins us to talk all things Robert Caro.Breaking Down The Power Broker

562- Breaking Down The Power Broker (with Conan O'Brien)

Today's episode features #1 Robert Caro superfan, Conan O'Brien.The Power Broker by Robert Caro is a biography of Robert Moses, who is said to have built more structures and moved more earth than anyone in human history. And he did it without ever holding elected office. Outside of New York City, Robert Moses wasn't exceptionally well known. Inside of New York, he was mostly accepted by the media as simply the man who built all those nice parks. But The Power Broker, which is subtitled Robert Moses and The Fall of New York, changed all that. It is a tour de force of journalism, history, and biography. Roman also argues it's really fun to read and is strongly in contention for the best book ever written.But there is something of a catch, which can hang readers up: the book is a daunting 1200 pages long. As influential and amazing as this bestseller is, many people own an unopened copy gathering dust on their bookshelf. But that is a crime because this book needs to be read or at least discussed at length on a podcast.Roman Mars and Elliott Kalan (Flop House, Daily Show) are starting The Power Broker book club that will run through all of 2024 as bonus episodes and in this introductory episode, Conan O'Brien joins us to talk all things Robert Caro.Breaking Down The Power Broker

44:15

5 Dec 23

344- The Known Unknown [rebroadcast]

Roman note: This is one of my favorite episodes of all time. Should be a movie. Enjoy!The tradition of the Tomb of the Unknowns goes back only about a century, but it has become one of the most solemn and reverential monuments. When President Reagan added the remains of an unknown serviceman who died in combat in Vietnam to the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery in 1984, it was the only set of remains that couldn’t be identified from the war. Now, thankfully, there will never likely be a soldier who dies in battle whose body can’t be identified. And as a result of DNA technology, even the unknowns currently interred in the tomb can be positively identified.The Known Unknown

344- The Known Unknown [rebroadcast]

Roman note: This is one of my favorite episodes of all time. Should be a movie. Enjoy!The tradition of the Tomb of the Unknowns goes back only about a century, but it has become one of the most solemn and reverential monuments. When President Reagan added the remains of an unknown serviceman who died in combat in Vietnam to the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery in 1984, it was the only set of remains that couldn’t be identified from the war. Now, thankfully, there will never likely be a soldier who dies in battle whose body can’t be identified. And as a result of DNA technology, even the unknowns currently interred in the tomb can be positively identified.The Known Unknown

45:21

29 Nov 23

561- Long Strange Tape

The Cassette tape was great in so many ways, but let’s be honest, they never really sounded great.  But because the cassette was so much cheaper and easier to use and portable, a lot of people didn't care so much about the audio quality. They just wanted to be able to use something that they could carry around with them. The cassette’s other big advantage: it was easy to record on.We talked to Marc Masters about his new book High Bias, about the history of the cassette. One chapter about concert bootleggers covers perhaps the greatest success story of the cassette: Grateful Dead live tapes.Long Strange TapePlus we're featuring a bonus story that we produced in 2016 in collaboration with Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything about a place where cassettes were of vital importance.

561- Long Strange Tape

The Cassette tape was great in so many ways, but let’s be honest, they never really sounded great.  But because the cassette was so much cheaper and easier to use and portable, a lot of people didn't care so much about the audio quality. They just wanted to be able to use something that they could carry around with them. The cassette’s other big advantage: it was easy to record on.We talked to Marc Masters about his new book High Bias, about the history of the cassette. One chapter about concert bootleggers covers perhaps the greatest success story of the cassette: Grateful Dead live tapes.Long Strange TapePlus we're featuring a bonus story that we produced in 2016 in collaboration with Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything about a place where cassettes were of vital importance.

34:14

22 Nov 23

560- Home on the Range

In a lot of ways, Lincoln Heights, Ohio, sounds just like any other suburb. If you walk around town, you’ll hear kids playing outside the local elementary school. You’ll hear the highway that takes commuters down to Cincinnati. At the woods on the edge of town, the birdsong is delightful. The town feels calm and peaceful - at least, until the gunfire starts. Most weekdays, it begins in the morning, and lasts through the afternoon. Sometimes it goes past sundown, and occasionally into the weekends. Once the shooting begins, it comes in rapid-fire waves throughout the day. People say it makes it hard to focus or relax, and those who work the night shift say they can’t sleep.The noise of gunfire isn’t from street violence. It all comes from an open-air gun range that’s owned by the Cincinnati Police Department.Home on the Range

560- Home on the Range

In a lot of ways, Lincoln Heights, Ohio, sounds just like any other suburb. If you walk around town, you’ll hear kids playing outside the local elementary school. You’ll hear the highway that takes commuters down to Cincinnati. At the woods on the edge of town, the birdsong is delightful. The town feels calm and peaceful - at least, until the gunfire starts. Most weekdays, it begins in the morning, and lasts through the afternoon. Sometimes it goes past sundown, and occasionally into the weekends. Once the shooting begins, it comes in rapid-fire waves throughout the day. People say it makes it hard to focus or relax, and those who work the night shift say they can’t sleep.The noise of gunfire isn’t from street violence. It all comes from an open-air gun range that’s owned by the Cincinnati Police Department.Home on the Range

39:00

15 Nov 23

559- The Six-Week Cure

In the mid-1900s, people flocked to Reno, Nevada -- not for frontier gold or loose slots, but to get out of bad marriages.  The city became known as the "Divorce Capital of the World." For much of modern history, it has been relatively easy to get married, and extremely difficult to get divorced -- and for a time, this was true in the New World as well. But Reno provided the cure: The Six-Week Cure. 

559- The Six-Week Cure

In the mid-1900s, people flocked to Reno, Nevada -- not for frontier gold or loose slots, but to get out of bad marriages.  The city became known as the "Divorce Capital of the World." For much of modern history, it has been relatively easy to get married, and extremely difficult to get divorced -- and for a time, this was true in the New World as well. But Reno provided the cure: The Six-Week Cure. 

34:58

7 Nov 23

558- The Fever Tree Hunt

Most heists target gold, jewels or cash. This one targeted illegal seeds. As the British established their sprawling empire across the subcontinent and beyond, they encountered a formidable adversary — malaria. There was a cure — the bark of the Andean cinchona tree. The only problem? The Dutch and the French were also looking to corner the market in cinchona. And the trees themselves were under threat.This week on 99pi, we feature a story from Stuff the British Stole, a co-production of ABC Australia and CBC Podcasts. So "grab a gin and tonic and come with us to hear how a botanical empire took off — and gave birth to a quintessential cocktail." 

558- The Fever Tree Hunt

Most heists target gold, jewels or cash. This one targeted illegal seeds. As the British established their sprawling empire across the subcontinent and beyond, they encountered a formidable adversary — malaria. There was a cure — the bark of the Andean cinchona tree. The only problem? The Dutch and the French were also looking to corner the market in cinchona. And the trees themselves were under threat.This week on 99pi, we feature a story from Stuff the British Stole, a co-production of ABC Australia and CBC Podcasts. So "grab a gin and tonic and come with us to hear how a botanical empire took off — and gave birth to a quintessential cocktail." 

40:59

31 Oct 23

557- Model Village

For decades, society has dealt with people with dementia and other forms of cognitive decline by storing them away in unstimulating, medicalized environments. But around the world, a new architectural movement is starting to challenge that old paradigm. Designing environments where people with dementia can live as normally as possible, until the very end.Model Village 

557- Model Village

For decades, society has dealt with people with dementia and other forms of cognitive decline by storing them away in unstimulating, medicalized environments. But around the world, a new architectural movement is starting to challenge that old paradigm. Designing environments where people with dementia can live as normally as possible, until the very end.Model Village 

35:58

24 Oct 23

328- Devolutionary Redesign

It’s hard to overstate just how important record album art was to music in the days before people downloaded everything. Visuals were a key part of one's experience with a record or tape or CD. The design of the album cover created a first impression of what was to come. Album art was certainly important to reporter Sean Cole, one particular album by one particular band: Devo. This is the story of Devo’s first record and the fight over the arresting image of a flashy, handsome golf legend on the cover.Plus, former 99pi EP Katie Mingle gets the backstory of the Langley Schools Music Project LP, a haunting and uplifting outsider artist masterpiece.This episode was originally broadcast in 2018Devolutionary Design

328- Devolutionary Redesign

It’s hard to overstate just how important record album art was to music in the days before people downloaded everything. Visuals were a key part of one's experience with a record or tape or CD. The design of the album cover created a first impression of what was to come. Album art was certainly important to reporter Sean Cole, one particular album by one particular band: Devo. This is the story of Devo’s first record and the fight over the arresting image of a flashy, handsome golf legend on the cover.Plus, former 99pi EP Katie Mingle gets the backstory of the Langley Schools Music Project LP, a haunting and uplifting outsider artist masterpiece.This episode was originally broadcast in 2018Devolutionary Design

31:59

17 Oct 23

556- You Ain’t Nothin But a Postmark

Over a decade after Elvis Presley’s death, the king of rock & roll took over headlines once again as Americans weighed in on which portrait of Elvis would be forever immortalized on a 29 cent US postage stamp. It was put to a popular vote: should the stamp feature an image of young Elvis at the start of his rise, or an older Elvis in his iconic white jumpsuit.The resulting Elvis stamp eventually outsold every single commemorative stamp before and since.You Ain’t Nothin But a Postmark

556- You Ain’t Nothin But a Postmark

Over a decade after Elvis Presley’s death, the king of rock & roll took over headlines once again as Americans weighed in on which portrait of Elvis would be forever immortalized on a 29 cent US postage stamp. It was put to a popular vote: should the stamp feature an image of young Elvis at the start of his rise, or an older Elvis in his iconic white jumpsuit.The resulting Elvis stamp eventually outsold every single commemorative stamp before and since.You Ain’t Nothin But a Postmark

32:20

10 Oct 23

555- The Big Dig

Over its more than 40 year journey from conception to completion, Boston’s Big Dig massive infrastructure project, which rerouted the central highway in the heart of the city, encountered every hurdle imaginable: ruthless politics, engineering challenges, secretive contractors, outright fraud and even the death of one motorist. It became a kind of poster child for big government ‘boondoggles.’ But the full story is of course much more complicated – and really represents a turning point in how America builds infrastructure.Subscribe and Listen to the full series of The Big Dig.The Big Dig 

555- The Big Dig

Over its more than 40 year journey from conception to completion, Boston’s Big Dig massive infrastructure project, which rerouted the central highway in the heart of the city, encountered every hurdle imaginable: ruthless politics, engineering challenges, secretive contractors, outright fraud and even the death of one motorist. It became a kind of poster child for big government ‘boondoggles.’ But the full story is of course much more complicated – and really represents a turning point in how America builds infrastructure.Subscribe and Listen to the full series of The Big Dig.The Big Dig 

55:26

3 Oct 23

554- Devil in the Details

This week we have two stories featuring the devil.An infamous "training video" teaching cops how to spot and stop "satanic crimes." And a stretch of highway with the misfortune of being officially named US Route 666.Devil in the Details

554- Devil in the Details

This week we have two stories featuring the devil.An infamous "training video" teaching cops how to spot and stop "satanic crimes." And a stretch of highway with the misfortune of being officially named US Route 666.Devil in the Details

34:23

26 Sep 23

553- Cautionary Tales of the Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic and distinctive buildings in the world. It took a relative newcomer and architectural outsider to dream it up, but the saga of making this world heritage landmark a reality is a tale for the ages: a cautionary tale. And for Cautionary Tales, I turn to the brilliant Tim Harford. I’ve been dying to hear the story of the Sydney Opera House told in this way, and Tim and his team just nailed it,  and I know you are going to love it as much as I do. Enjoy. 

553- Cautionary Tales of the Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic and distinctive buildings in the world. It took a relative newcomer and architectural outsider to dream it up, but the saga of making this world heritage landmark a reality is a tale for the ages: a cautionary tale. And for Cautionary Tales, I turn to the brilliant Tim Harford. I’ve been dying to hear the story of the Sydney Opera House told in this way, and Tim and his team just nailed it,  and I know you are going to love it as much as I do. Enjoy. 

40:32

19 Sep 23

552- Blood in the Machine

Brian Merchant is a tech reporter, and he'd been covering the industry for years when he started to notice a term that kept coming up. When he wrote a story that was critical of tech, he'd be accused of being a "Luddite."Like most people, Brian knew at least vaguely what the term "Luddite" meant. But as time went on, and as Brian watched tech grow into the disruptive behemoth it is today, he started to get more curious about the actual Luddites. Who were they? And what did they really believe? Brian has a new book out about the Luddites called Blood in the Machine. And it explores how English textile workers in the 19th century rose up against the growing trend of automation and the machines that were threatening their livelihoods.Blood in the Machine

552- Blood in the Machine

Brian Merchant is a tech reporter, and he'd been covering the industry for years when he started to notice a term that kept coming up. When he wrote a story that was critical of tech, he'd be accused of being a "Luddite."Like most people, Brian knew at least vaguely what the term "Luddite" meant. But as time went on, and as Brian watched tech grow into the disruptive behemoth it is today, he started to get more curious about the actual Luddites. Who were they? And what did they really believe? Brian has a new book out about the Luddites called Blood in the Machine. And it explores how English textile workers in the 19th century rose up against the growing trend of automation and the machines that were threatening their livelihoods.Blood in the Machine

29:04

12 Sep 23

389- Whomst Among Us Let the Dogs Out AGAIN

All kinds of songs get stuck in your head. Famous pop tunes from when you were a kid, album cuts you've listened to over and over again. And then there's a category of memorable songs—the ones that we all just kind of know. Songs that somehow, without anyone’s permission, sneak their way into the collective unconscious and are now just lingering there for eternity. There’s one song that best exemplifies this phenomenon— "Who Let The Dogs Out" by the Baha Men.The story of how that song ended up stuck in all of our brains goes back decades and spans continents. It tells us something about inspiration, and how creativity spreads, and about whether an idea can ever really belong to just one person. Whomst Among Us Let the Dogs Out AGAIN

389- Whomst Among Us Let the Dogs Out AGAIN

All kinds of songs get stuck in your head. Famous pop tunes from when you were a kid, album cuts you've listened to over and over again. And then there's a category of memorable songs—the ones that we all just kind of know. Songs that somehow, without anyone’s permission, sneak their way into the collective unconscious and are now just lingering there for eternity. There’s one song that best exemplifies this phenomenon— "Who Let The Dogs Out" by the Baha Men.The story of how that song ended up stuck in all of our brains goes back decades and spans continents. It tells us something about inspiration, and how creativity spreads, and about whether an idea can ever really belong to just one person. Whomst Among Us Let the Dogs Out AGAIN

38:42

5 Sep 23

551- Office Space

In most big cities, there’s a housing crisis. And empty office buildings are creating a different crisis known to urbanists as a ‘doom loop.’ Converting an office into housing can solve both of these crises at once, using one piece of property. This solution just seems so obvious and elegant. But for all the hype around this idea, there are surprisingly few adaptive reuse projects actually underway.Office Space

551- Office Space

In most big cities, there’s a housing crisis. And empty office buildings are creating a different crisis known to urbanists as a ‘doom loop.’ Converting an office into housing can solve both of these crises at once, using one piece of property. This solution just seems so obvious and elegant. But for all the hype around this idea, there are surprisingly few adaptive reuse projects actually underway.Office Space

32:55

29 Aug 23

550- Melanie Speaks

The story of a voice training VHS tape that helped trans women at a time when other resources were hard to access.The way a person's voice changes over time feels like a simple, and overlooked act of magic. Whether intentionally or subconsciously, our voices are products of our environments as much as they are part of us. Today we’re featuring an episode about voices from a series called Sounds Gay, a brilliant show about queer culture, community and music.Plus, guest host Swan Real discusses the universality of voice training with 99pi regular host Roman Mars.Melanie Speaks 

550- Melanie Speaks

The story of a voice training VHS tape that helped trans women at a time when other resources were hard to access.The way a person's voice changes over time feels like a simple, and overlooked act of magic. Whether intentionally or subconsciously, our voices are products of our environments as much as they are part of us. Today we’re featuring an episode about voices from a series called Sounds Gay, a brilliant show about queer culture, community and music.Plus, guest host Swan Real discusses the universality of voice training with 99pi regular host Roman Mars.Melanie Speaks 

50:26

22 Aug 23

549- Trail Mix: Track Two

Welcome to our second episode of short stories all about what may be the original designed object: the trail. If you haven’t heard the first episode yet you should totally go back and listen. It’s a lot of fun.Take this episode with you on your next hike!Trail Mix: Track Two

549- Trail Mix: Track Two

Welcome to our second episode of short stories all about what may be the original designed object: the trail. If you haven’t heard the first episode yet you should totally go back and listen. It’s a lot of fun.Take this episode with you on your next hike!Trail Mix: Track Two

34:07

15 Aug 23

548- Trail Mix

We deconstruct and examine what might be the original designed object-- the humble trail. We discuss how park trails are designed, what makes a good trail, and...what even is a trail anyway?Trail Mix

548- Trail Mix

We deconstruct and examine what might be the original designed object-- the humble trail. We discuss how park trails are designed, what makes a good trail, and...what even is a trail anyway?Trail Mix

35:06

8 Aug 23

547- Cooking with Gas

Back in January, Bloomberg News published a story quoting an obscure government official named Richard Trumka Jr. He works with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates stuff like furniture and electronics and household appliances. Basically, the agency is supposed to make sure that the stuff we buy is safe, and won't kill us or make us sick.  The Bloomberg story talked about how a growing body of research shows that gas stoves are really bad for indoor air quality. They let off pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, and they've been linked to heart problems, cancer, and asthma. And in this story, Trumka said the government would look into it, and maybe recommend some regulations on the appliance. Within days, the US went batshit crazy and gas stoves were all over the news. They had become the subject of the latest skirmish in our seemingly never-ending culture war. Cooking with Gas

547- Cooking with Gas

Back in January, Bloomberg News published a story quoting an obscure government official named Richard Trumka Jr. He works with the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which regulates stuff like furniture and electronics and household appliances. Basically, the agency is supposed to make sure that the stuff we buy is safe, and won't kill us or make us sick.  The Bloomberg story talked about how a growing body of research shows that gas stoves are really bad for indoor air quality. They let off pollutants like nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide, and they've been linked to heart problems, cancer, and asthma. And in this story, Trumka said the government would look into it, and maybe recommend some regulations on the appliance. Within days, the US went batshit crazy and gas stoves were all over the news. They had become the subject of the latest skirmish in our seemingly never-ending culture war. Cooking with Gas

29:01

1 Aug 23

The Country of the Blind

Andrew Leland grew up with full vision, but starting in his teenage years, his sight began to degrade from the outside in, such that he now sees the world as if through a narrow tube. Soon—but without knowing exactly when—he will likely have no vision left. In this episode, Andrew takes us through the fascinating history of alternative reading technologies designed for blind people and discusses his fantastic new book The Country of the Blind, which is out today!The Country of the Blind

The Country of the Blind

Andrew Leland grew up with full vision, but starting in his teenage years, his sight began to degrade from the outside in, such that he now sees the world as if through a narrow tube. Soon—but without knowing exactly when—he will likely have no vision left. In this episode, Andrew takes us through the fascinating history of alternative reading technologies designed for blind people and discusses his fantastic new book The Country of the Blind, which is out today!The Country of the Blind

47:38

25 Jul 23

545- Shade Redux

This past May, the city of Los Angeles rolled out a brand new, state-of-the art feature for bus shelters. It’s called La Sombrita. La Sombrita is a metal screen that’s intended to provide shade for the thousands of people who ride the bus every day. The shade screen is about two feet wide, ten feet tall, and it kinda looks like a curved teal metal surfboard filled with tiny holes. Right away, Angelinos were not happy. This heated conversation got us thinking about our interview with Sam Bloch about inequality and shade and we asked Sam back to get thoughts about La Sombrita, and whether the controversial shade sail could actually be a good thing for shade-starved Angelinos. Shade Redux

545- Shade Redux

This past May, the city of Los Angeles rolled out a brand new, state-of-the art feature for bus shelters. It’s called La Sombrita. La Sombrita is a metal screen that’s intended to provide shade for the thousands of people who ride the bus every day. The shade screen is about two feet wide, ten feet tall, and it kinda looks like a curved teal metal surfboard filled with tiny holes. Right away, Angelinos were not happy. This heated conversation got us thinking about our interview with Sam Bloch about inequality and shade and we asked Sam back to get thoughts about La Sombrita, and whether the controversial shade sail could actually be a good thing for shade-starved Angelinos. Shade Redux

29:50

18 Jul 23

544- Chick Tracts

In the 1980s, the little Christian comic books known as Chick Tracts were EVERYWHERE. You’d find them in movie theaters and bus station bathrooms, on subways, and all over shopping malls. People would slip them inside VHS rentals or library books. Many Chick Tracts are black and white Christian horror stories that pull from a huge cast of characters: witches, bikers, Hindus, rock and rollers, Catholics, queer people, truckers, Masons and trick-or-treaters. And at some point in the tract, the protagonist often has to make a choice: either accept Jesus as their savior, or get tossed like cordwood into a Lake Of Fire. Chick Tracts have left a really complicated legacy. Collectors are mesmerized by their edginess and kitsch. The Smithsonian regards Chick Tracts as American religious artifacts, and keeps a bunch of them in its vaults.  At the same time, many of these comics are filled with some ugly and dangerous messages, including homophobia and Islamophobia. So the same tracts that have been hoarded and preserved have ALSO been boycotted and banned, and condemned as hate speech.

544- Chick Tracts

In the 1980s, the little Christian comic books known as Chick Tracts were EVERYWHERE. You’d find them in movie theaters and bus station bathrooms, on subways, and all over shopping malls. People would slip them inside VHS rentals or library books. Many Chick Tracts are black and white Christian horror stories that pull from a huge cast of characters: witches, bikers, Hindus, rock and rollers, Catholics, queer people, truckers, Masons and trick-or-treaters. And at some point in the tract, the protagonist often has to make a choice: either accept Jesus as their savior, or get tossed like cordwood into a Lake Of Fire. Chick Tracts have left a really complicated legacy. Collectors are mesmerized by their edginess and kitsch. The Smithsonian regards Chick Tracts as American religious artifacts, and keeps a bunch of them in its vaults.  At the same time, many of these comics are filled with some ugly and dangerous messages, including homophobia and Islamophobia. So the same tracts that have been hoarded and preserved have ALSO been boycotted and banned, and condemned as hate speech.

34:59

11 Jul 23

543- In Proximity: Ryan Coogler and Roman Mars

In Proximity is a podcast from Proximity Media about craft, career, and creativity.Proximity founder Ryan Coogler talks all about podcasts with Roman Mars, host and creator of 99% Invisible, a sound-rich narrative podcast about architecture and design. They discuss holding pandemic meetings about the business of podcasting, Roman’s journey from science to public radio to 99% Invisible, finding the balance between being an artist and business owner plus why Roman believes a producer is the highest form of worker, collaborating on the Judas and the Black Messiah Podcast, the read-to-tape system, and Prox Recs that include a good coffee table book that will impress your friends and how to make great radio.Listen to In Proximity on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or your favorite podcast app.

543- In Proximity: Ryan Coogler and Roman Mars

In Proximity is a podcast from Proximity Media about craft, career, and creativity.Proximity founder Ryan Coogler talks all about podcasts with Roman Mars, host and creator of 99% Invisible, a sound-rich narrative podcast about architecture and design. They discuss holding pandemic meetings about the business of podcasting, Roman’s journey from science to public radio to 99% Invisible, finding the balance between being an artist and business owner plus why Roman believes a producer is the highest form of worker, collaborating on the Judas and the Black Messiah Podcast, the read-to-tape system, and Prox Recs that include a good coffee table book that will impress your friends and how to make great radio.Listen to In Proximity on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or your favorite podcast app.

30:23

5 Jul 23

542- Player Piano

This week we're featuring an episode of The Last ArchiveThe Last Archive is a history show. Our evidence is the evidence of history, the evidence of archives. Manuscripts, photographs, letters and diaries, government documents. Facebook posts, Youtube videos, DVDs. Oral histories. This stuff is known as the “historical record,” but of course it’s not a record, in the sense of an audio recording: It’s everything.On this episode of The Last Archive, the story of the composer Raymond Scott’s lifelong quest to build an automatic songwriting machine, and what it means for our own AI-addled, ChatGPT world.

542- Player Piano

This week we're featuring an episode of The Last ArchiveThe Last Archive is a history show. Our evidence is the evidence of history, the evidence of archives. Manuscripts, photographs, letters and diaries, government documents. Facebook posts, Youtube videos, DVDs. Oral histories. This stuff is known as the “historical record,” but of course it’s not a record, in the sense of an audio recording: It’s everything.On this episode of The Last Archive, the story of the composer Raymond Scott’s lifelong quest to build an automatic songwriting machine, and what it means for our own AI-addled, ChatGPT world.

53:29

27 Jun 23

541- The Frankfurt Kitchen

After World War I, in Frankfurt, Germany, the city government was taking on a big project. A lot of residents were in dire straits, and in the second half of the 1920s, the city built over 10,000 public housing units. It was some of the earliest modern architecture — simple, clean, and uniform. The massive housing effort was, in many ways, eye-poppingly impressive, with all new construction and sleek, cutting edge architecture. But one room in these new housing units was far and away the most lauded and influential: and that was the kitchen.Many consider the Frankfurt Kitchen to be nothing less than the first modern kitchen. A few of these kitchens still exist, some in museums. And it's strange to see one there, because to modern eyes, it doesn’t appear to be high art. It just looks like a kitchen.The Frankfurt Kitchen

541- The Frankfurt Kitchen

After World War I, in Frankfurt, Germany, the city government was taking on a big project. A lot of residents were in dire straits, and in the second half of the 1920s, the city built over 10,000 public housing units. It was some of the earliest modern architecture — simple, clean, and uniform. The massive housing effort was, in many ways, eye-poppingly impressive, with all new construction and sleek, cutting edge architecture. But one room in these new housing units was far and away the most lauded and influential: and that was the kitchen.Many consider the Frankfurt Kitchen to be nothing less than the first modern kitchen. A few of these kitchens still exist, some in museums. And it's strange to see one there, because to modern eyes, it doesn’t appear to be high art. It just looks like a kitchen.The Frankfurt Kitchen

34:23

20 Jun 23

540- The Siren of Scrap Metal

Amid the noisy bustle of Mexico City, there is a particularly iconic sound echoing on repeat in the background. This recording blares from trucks that cruise the streets all across this massive city. The crews inside are looking to buy old household items and appliances to fix and resell or to just sell for scrap. Basically, they’re scrap metal haulers, and the recording is their pitch to prospective sellers. Their pitch culminates in "o algo de fierro viejo que vendan," which basically means “or any old metal thing you’re selling.” This last bit has become the recording’s namesake: fierro viejo, literally “old iron.”How this recording (and its subsequent remixes for live performances and otherwise) managed to achieve icon status in Mexico is a story of an unlikely alchemy: a family that, through grit, talent and a bit of luck, transmuted scrap metal into poetry, music, and joy.The Siren of Scrap Metal

540- The Siren of Scrap Metal

Amid the noisy bustle of Mexico City, there is a particularly iconic sound echoing on repeat in the background. This recording blares from trucks that cruise the streets all across this massive city. The crews inside are looking to buy old household items and appliances to fix and resell or to just sell for scrap. Basically, they’re scrap metal haulers, and the recording is their pitch to prospective sellers. Their pitch culminates in "o algo de fierro viejo que vendan," which basically means “or any old metal thing you’re selling.” This last bit has become the recording’s namesake: fierro viejo, literally “old iron.”How this recording (and its subsequent remixes for live performances and otherwise) managed to achieve icon status in Mexico is a story of an unlikely alchemy: a family that, through grit, talent and a bit of luck, transmuted scrap metal into poetry, music, and joy.The Siren of Scrap Metal

34:37

13 Jun 23

539- Courtroom Sketch

As electronic news gathering was gaining prominence in the early 20th century, the American Bar Association began to fear its effect on court trials and adopted something called Canon 35. This condemned the use of photography, motion picture, and radio recording within the confines of the courtroom. It wasn't a law, per se, but a code of ethics that cautioned against recording technology in the trial process. Many state and federal courts followed suit...making way for illustrators. Cameras began to creep their way back into courtrooms over the decades, but courtroom artists are still constantly used in high profile cases.Courtroom Sketch

539- Courtroom Sketch

As electronic news gathering was gaining prominence in the early 20th century, the American Bar Association began to fear its effect on court trials and adopted something called Canon 35. This condemned the use of photography, motion picture, and radio recording within the confines of the courtroom. It wasn't a law, per se, but a code of ethics that cautioned against recording technology in the trial process. Many state and federal courts followed suit...making way for illustrators. Cameras began to creep their way back into courtrooms over the decades, but courtroom artists are still constantly used in high profile cases.Courtroom Sketch

36:56

6 Jun 23

415- Goodnight Nobody [rebroadcast]

The unlikely battle between the creator of the New York Public Library children's reading room and the beloved children’s classic Goodnight Moon.Goodnight Nobody

415- Goodnight Nobody [rebroadcast]

The unlikely battle between the creator of the New York Public Library children's reading room and the beloved children’s classic Goodnight Moon.Goodnight Nobody

43:45

31 May 23

538- Train Set: Track Three

Happy National Train Day, everyone – for those of you who missed it: that was May 13th this year. A year ago, we started down this path with Train Set: Track One, which gave way to Track Two …and now, here we are for the final part of our train-fecta.Slip coaches, the worlds shortest trains, private cars, torpedoes, and of course, Thomas.Train Set: Track Three

538- Train Set: Track Three

Happy National Train Day, everyone – for those of you who missed it: that was May 13th this year. A year ago, we started down this path with Train Set: Track One, which gave way to Track Two …and now, here we are for the final part of our train-fecta.Slip coaches, the worlds shortest trains, private cars, torpedoes, and of course, Thomas.Train Set: Track Three

31:17

23 May 23

537- Paved Paradise

LA might be the most extreme parking city on the planet. Parking regulations have made it nearly impossible to build new affordable housing, or to renovate old buildings. And parking has a massive impact on how the city looks. LA is chock full of commercial strip malls, where buildings sit alone and isolated in a sea of asphalt. And all of this is the result of one policy decision that has reshaped American cities for the last eighty years.Henry Grabar's Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World, tells a mesmerizing story about the strange and wonderful super-organism that is the modern American city. In a beguiling and often absurdly hilarious mix of history, politics, and reportage, Grabar brilliantly surveys the pain points of the nation’s parking crisis, from Los Angeles to Disney World to New York, stopping at every major American city in between.Paved  Paradise

537- Paved Paradise

LA might be the most extreme parking city on the planet. Parking regulations have made it nearly impossible to build new affordable housing, or to renovate old buildings. And parking has a massive impact on how the city looks. LA is chock full of commercial strip malls, where buildings sit alone and isolated in a sea of asphalt. And all of this is the result of one policy decision that has reshaped American cities for the last eighty years.Henry Grabar's Paved Paradise: How Parking Explains the World, tells a mesmerizing story about the strange and wonderful super-organism that is the modern American city. In a beguiling and often absurdly hilarious mix of history, politics, and reportage, Grabar brilliantly surveys the pain points of the nation’s parking crisis, from Los Angeles to Disney World to New York, stopping at every major American city in between.Paved  Paradise

26:48

17 May 23

536- Nuts and Bolts

In her new book Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World (in a Big Way), structural engineer Roma Agrawal identifies and examines the seven of most basic building blocks of engineering that have shaped the modern world: the nail, the wheel, the spring, the lens, the magnet, the string, and the pump.Click here to get the book! Available for pre-order at W. W. Norton in the US and Bookshop.org in the UK.Nuts and Bolts

536- Nuts and Bolts

In her new book Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World (in a Big Way), structural engineer Roma Agrawal identifies and examines the seven of most basic building blocks of engineering that have shaped the modern world: the nail, the wheel, the spring, the lens, the magnet, the string, and the pump.Click here to get the book! Available for pre-order at W. W. Norton in the US and Bookshop.org in the UK.Nuts and Bolts

37:43

9 May 23

535- Craptions

Bad closed captions can be entertaining, but  they can be serious, too, because captions are a critical tool for lots of lots of people. There are the people learning a new language and of course captions are essential for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. In the US, that’s about 15% of the adult population.Craptions

535- Craptions

Bad closed captions can be entertaining, but  they can be serious, too, because captions are a critical tool for lots of lots of people. There are the people learning a new language and of course captions are essential for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. In the US, that’s about 15% of the adult population.Craptions

32:41

2 May 23

534- For Amusement Only (Free Replay)

There's a new movie out called Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game. It’s a fun and extremely meta biopic telling the story of Roger Sharpe, who, with one perfect shot, helped legalize pinball in New York. That’s right – pinball was banned in many states up until the 1970s. We told that story and interviewed the REAL Roger about, oh, 400 episodes or so ago. So if you haven’t gone that far back in the catalog, we wanted to give you a free replay. After that, we’ve got a new segment with Keith Elwin, a tournament champion who made the move into designing pinball machines.For Amusement Only (Free Replay)

534- For Amusement Only (Free Replay)

There's a new movie out called Pinball: The Man Who Saved the Game. It’s a fun and extremely meta biopic telling the story of Roger Sharpe, who, with one perfect shot, helped legalize pinball in New York. That’s right – pinball was banned in many states up until the 1970s. We told that story and interviewed the REAL Roger about, oh, 400 episodes or so ago. So if you haven’t gone that far back in the catalog, we wanted to give you a free replay. After that, we’ve got a new segment with Keith Elwin, a tournament champion who made the move into designing pinball machines.For Amusement Only (Free Replay)

29:55

25 Apr 23

533- Dear John and Roman

Last year, Roman Mars teamed up with Hank Green to guest host Dear Hank & John -- this year he's back on the Greens' show once again, but this time with Hank's brother John Green (Turtles All the Way Down, The Fault in Our Stars, The Anthropocene Reviewed).In their podcast Dear Hank & John, "hosts John and Hank Green (who are also best-selling authors and pioneering YouTubers) offer both humorous and heartfelt advice about life’s big and small questions. They bring their personal passions to each episode by sharing the week’s news from Mars (the planet) and AFC Wimbledon (the third-tier English football club)."This week, guest host Roman Mars joins the show to discuss things like: Are roaches a moral failing? How do they do surgery on a fish? Why do only old people like stinky cheese?  

533- Dear John and Roman

Last year, Roman Mars teamed up with Hank Green to guest host Dear Hank & John -- this year he's back on the Greens' show once again, but this time with Hank's brother John Green (Turtles All the Way Down, The Fault in Our Stars, The Anthropocene Reviewed).In their podcast Dear Hank & John, "hosts John and Hank Green (who are also best-selling authors and pioneering YouTubers) offer both humorous and heartfelt advice about life’s big and small questions. They bring their personal passions to each episode by sharing the week’s news from Mars (the planet) and AFC Wimbledon (the third-tier English football club)."This week, guest host Roman Mars joins the show to discuss things like: Are roaches a moral failing? How do they do surgery on a fish? Why do only old people like stinky cheese?  

01:05:18

19 Apr 23

532- For a Dollar and a Dream

From scratchers to the Powerball, the lottery is the most popular form of gambling in the United States, even though the odds of winning a big jackpot is infinitesimally small. Jonathan D. Cohen is a historian and the author of the book  For a Dollar and a Dream; State Lotteries in Modern America and he says it isn’t just the people playing the lottery who irrationally think the game will solve their financial woes, the states running the lotteries suffer from the same delusion.For a Dollar and a Dream

532- For a Dollar and a Dream

From scratchers to the Powerball, the lottery is the most popular form of gambling in the United States, even though the odds of winning a big jackpot is infinitesimally small. Jonathan D. Cohen is a historian and the author of the book  For a Dollar and a Dream; State Lotteries in Modern America and he says it isn’t just the people playing the lottery who irrationally think the game will solve their financial woes, the states running the lotteries suffer from the same delusion.For a Dollar and a Dream

39:07

11 Apr 23

531- De Fiets Is Niets

Today the Netherlands has a reputation as a kind of bicycling paradise. Dutch people own more bicycles per capita than any other place in the world. The country has more than 20,000 miles of dedicated cycling paths. International policymakers make pilgrimages to the Netherlands to learn how to create good bike infrastructure.But none of that was inevitable. It wasn't something that magically emerged from Dutch culture.In fact, in the 1960s and 70s, it looked like the Netherlands would follow the same path as the United States. The Dutch had fallen in love with cars and they were rebuilding their cities to make room for them. It was only because of a multi-decade pro-cycling movement that cars didn't take over the country entirely.De Fiets is Niets

531- De Fiets Is Niets

Today the Netherlands has a reputation as a kind of bicycling paradise. Dutch people own more bicycles per capita than any other place in the world. The country has more than 20,000 miles of dedicated cycling paths. International policymakers make pilgrimages to the Netherlands to learn how to create good bike infrastructure.But none of that was inevitable. It wasn't something that magically emerged from Dutch culture.In fact, in the 1960s and 70s, it looked like the Netherlands would follow the same path as the United States. The Dutch had fallen in love with cars and they were rebuilding their cities to make room for them. It was only because of a multi-decade pro-cycling movement that cars didn't take over the country entirely.De Fiets is Niets

43:55

4 Apr 23

530- The Panopticon Effect

The “panopticon” might be the best known prison concept in the world. In the original design, all the cells are built around a central guard tower, designed to maintain order just by making prisoners believe that they are constantly being watched.  Over time, the panopticon has turned into something way bigger than just a blueprint for penitentiaries. It’s become the metaphor for the surveillance state. Philosopher Michel Foucault had probably the most popular take on the panopticon concept. He used it to warn society that what actually keeps all of us in check isn’t necessarily that someone is watching you. It’s just the feeling that someone might be watching you. But very few actual prisons were built around this idea. Breda Dome is one of them.The Panopticon Effect

530- The Panopticon Effect

The “panopticon” might be the best known prison concept in the world. In the original design, all the cells are built around a central guard tower, designed to maintain order just by making prisoners believe that they are constantly being watched.  Over time, the panopticon has turned into something way bigger than just a blueprint for penitentiaries. It’s become the metaphor for the surveillance state. Philosopher Michel Foucault had probably the most popular take on the panopticon concept. He used it to warn society that what actually keeps all of us in check isn’t necessarily that someone is watching you. It’s just the feeling that someone might be watching you. But very few actual prisons were built around this idea. Breda Dome is one of them.The Panopticon Effect

37:11

29 Mar 23

529- The Wilderness Tool

Vintage crosscuts that were made between 1880 and 1930 are often the tool of choice for trail workers who maintain the country’s roughly 112 million acres of protected land. That’s ahead of chain saws and newly made crosscuts. And the reason this old tool has stuck around so long -- even in an age when there’s a newer, better gadget coming out every year -- it goes way beyond the physical saw itself. The rise, fall, and unexpected second life of the crosscut saw is also the story of how America created the very concept of wilderness.The Wilderness Tool

529- The Wilderness Tool

Vintage crosscuts that were made between 1880 and 1930 are often the tool of choice for trail workers who maintain the country’s roughly 112 million acres of protected land. That’s ahead of chain saws and newly made crosscuts. And the reason this old tool has stuck around so long -- even in an age when there’s a newer, better gadget coming out every year -- it goes way beyond the physical saw itself. The rise, fall, and unexpected second life of the crosscut saw is also the story of how America created the very concept of wilderness.The Wilderness Tool

44:23

21 Mar 23

Twenty Thousand Hertz- Golden

The podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz is a show about the world's most interesting and recognizable sounds. I think of it as almost a sibling of 99% Invisible: lovingly produced and reported deep dives into everyday things that make you see the world differently. In case of Twenty Thousand Hertz, hear the world differently. We’ve collaborated a number of times, but we’re featuring them today because our sibling podcast produced an episode with my actual sibling Leigh Marz, co-author of the book Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise. Leigh showed up on a mini-story episode 99pi a few months talking about the ever increasing loudness of sirens as a way of measuring just how loud our world has become. But the story Twenty Thousand Hertz produced tackles the main thesis of Golden more head on. I love how this episode turned out and I’m so proud of everyone involved, that I want to share it with you as a bonus episode. In a noisy, tumultuous world, how can we find inner peace? This episode features two stories about the transformative power of silence. In the first, the Lieutenant Governor of Washington State abandons politics to become a Jesuit novice, and takes a temporary vow of silence. In the second, a death row inmate at San Quentin discovers Buddhist practices that help to calm his mind, and embrace compassion.Featuring Cyrus Habib, Jarvis Masters, Leigh Marz, and Justin Zorn.

Twenty Thousand Hertz- Golden

The podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz is a show about the world's most interesting and recognizable sounds. I think of it as almost a sibling of 99% Invisible: lovingly produced and reported deep dives into everyday things that make you see the world differently. In case of Twenty Thousand Hertz, hear the world differently. We’ve collaborated a number of times, but we’re featuring them today because our sibling podcast produced an episode with my actual sibling Leigh Marz, co-author of the book Golden: The Power of Silence in a World of Noise. Leigh showed up on a mini-story episode 99pi a few months talking about the ever increasing loudness of sirens as a way of measuring just how loud our world has become. But the story Twenty Thousand Hertz produced tackles the main thesis of Golden more head on. I love how this episode turned out and I’m so proud of everyone involved, that I want to share it with you as a bonus episode. In a noisy, tumultuous world, how can we find inner peace? This episode features two stories about the transformative power of silence. In the first, the Lieutenant Governor of Washington State abandons politics to become a Jesuit novice, and takes a temporary vow of silence. In the second, a death row inmate at San Quentin discovers Buddhist practices that help to calm his mind, and embrace compassion.Featuring Cyrus Habib, Jarvis Masters, Leigh Marz, and Justin Zorn.

32:41

17 Mar 23

528- A Whale-Oiled Machine

Back when whale oil was mainly used as a fuel to burn in lanterns and streetlights, an enterprising man named William F. Nye found a new way to sell whale oil to a rapidly changing world: as a lubricant for all the new fangled machines. Nye specialized in specialization- selling different oils for watches, sewing machines, bicycles. Lubrication has had a largely invisible role in the design of the modern world, but its importance cannot be overstated.A Whale-Oiled Machine

528- A Whale-Oiled Machine

Back when whale oil was mainly used as a fuel to burn in lanterns and streetlights, an enterprising man named William F. Nye found a new way to sell whale oil to a rapidly changing world: as a lubricant for all the new fangled machines. Nye specialized in specialization- selling different oils for watches, sewing machines, bicycles. Lubrication has had a largely invisible role in the design of the modern world, but its importance cannot be overstated.A Whale-Oiled Machine

34:38

14 Mar 23

420- The Lost Cities of Geo Redux

 If we’ve learned anything from watching the turnover of tech giants like Yahoo! and MySpace, it’s that internet darlings rise and fall. And there’s something darkly fascinating about watching it happen in realtime.Maybe we’re seeing it now with Twitter and Facebook– some of us will mourn the loss of the communities and connections that we’ve created in the virtual spaces owned by these billion dollar companies...While others will enjoy visiting the graves of these once unstoppable behemoths  to tramp the dirt down.Either way, the values and trends and hopes and ambitions that go into the architecture of the virtual world say as much about us as the architecture of the real world. And that’s what these two stories are all about.The Lost Cities of Geo Redux

420- The Lost Cities of Geo Redux

 If we’ve learned anything from watching the turnover of tech giants like Yahoo! and MySpace, it’s that internet darlings rise and fall. And there’s something darkly fascinating about watching it happen in realtime.Maybe we’re seeing it now with Twitter and Facebook– some of us will mourn the loss of the communities and connections that we’ve created in the virtual spaces owned by these billion dollar companies...While others will enjoy visiting the graves of these once unstoppable behemoths  to tramp the dirt down.Either way, the values and trends and hopes and ambitions that go into the architecture of the virtual world say as much about us as the architecture of the real world. And that’s what these two stories are all about.The Lost Cities of Geo Redux

43:17

7 Mar 23

527- RoboUmp

One study from 2018 found that Major League Baseball umpires blow about 14 calls every game. That’s 34,000 bad calls every year. And it makes a difference. A blown strike call can decide a win or a loss, a championship or six months at home, wondering what could have been. And while umpires are about 97% accurate in calling balls and strikes, Major League Baseball has been considering something drastic. Something to take us up to 100% accuracy. They have a plan to replace human umpires with robots.RoboUmp

527- RoboUmp

One study from 2018 found that Major League Baseball umpires blow about 14 calls every game. That’s 34,000 bad calls every year. And it makes a difference. A blown strike call can decide a win or a loss, a championship or six months at home, wondering what could have been. And while umpires are about 97% accurate in calling balls and strikes, Major League Baseball has been considering something drastic. Something to take us up to 100% accuracy. They have a plan to replace human umpires with robots.RoboUmp

27:40

28 Feb 23

526- Orange Alternative

In the 1980s a Polish anti-communist group called the Orange Alternative used cute images of a mythical creature with a tiny pointed hat to spread its anti-authoritarian message. That innocent symbol of an impish dwarf amplified a powerful political message to the world, which ultimately contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union. This approach is being used in creative and clever ways today by people protesting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Orange Alternative

526- Orange Alternative

In the 1980s a Polish anti-communist group called the Orange Alternative used cute images of a mythical creature with a tiny pointed hat to spread its anti-authoritarian message. That innocent symbol of an impish dwarf amplified a powerful political message to the world, which ultimately contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union. This approach is being used in creative and clever ways today by people protesting Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Orange Alternative

32:16

22 Feb 23

525- The Chinatown Punk Wars

When LA punks were looking for a place to play in the late 1970s, Chinatown welcomed the unruly scene. But it was an uneasy alliance that led to fierce rivalries, hurt feelings, blatant racism, and broken toilets. At the center of it all was a 62 year old Chinese immigrant named Esther Wong, aka Madame Wong, aka The Godmother of Punk.The Chinatown Punk Wars

525- The Chinatown Punk Wars

When LA punks were looking for a place to play in the late 1970s, Chinatown welcomed the unruly scene. But it was an uneasy alliance that led to fierce rivalries, hurt feelings, blatant racism, and broken toilets. At the center of it all was a 62 year old Chinese immigrant named Esther Wong, aka Madame Wong, aka The Godmother of Punk.The Chinatown Punk Wars

43:14

14 Feb 23

524- The Day the Music Stopped

On Aug. 1, 1942, the nation’s recording studios went silent. Musicians were fed up with the new technologies threatening their livelihoods, so they refused to record until they got their fair share. One Year's Evan Chung explores one of the most consequential labor actions of the 20th century, and how it coincided with an underground revolution in music led by artists like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.Subscribe to the fantastic One Year: 1942 

524- The Day the Music Stopped

On Aug. 1, 1942, the nation’s recording studios went silent. Musicians were fed up with the new technologies threatening their livelihoods, so they refused to record until they got their fair share. One Year's Evan Chung explores one of the most consequential labor actions of the 20th century, and how it coincided with an underground revolution in music led by artists like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.Subscribe to the fantastic One Year: 1942 

50:58

8 Feb 23

523- Six-on-Six Basketball

In the 20th century, Iowa high school girls basketball was HUGE but it was not the game we know today. In 6-on-6 basketball, the three forwards only play offense. And the three guards only play defense. No one is allowed to leave their assigned half of the court. 6-on-6 still uses the full length of a basketball court, but in a different way than 5-on-5. In 6-player, three forwards from one team and three guards from the opposing team play at one end of the court. Meanwhile their teammates wait at the half court line. This basketball variant made for high scores, quick action, and the girls who played it were local superstars. Six-on-Six Basketball

523- Six-on-Six Basketball

In the 20th century, Iowa high school girls basketball was HUGE but it was not the game we know today. In 6-on-6 basketball, the three forwards only play offense. And the three guards only play defense. No one is allowed to leave their assigned half of the court. 6-on-6 still uses the full length of a basketball court, but in a different way than 5-on-5. In 6-player, three forwards from one team and three guards from the opposing team play at one end of the court. Meanwhile their teammates wait at the half court line. This basketball variant made for high scores, quick action, and the girls who played it were local superstars. Six-on-Six Basketball

41:48

31 Jan 23

522- The Comrades

If you live in South Africa, you definitely know someone who runs ultra-marathons, probably lots of someones. Here, ultras are the stuff of a whole country’s new years resolutions and mid-life crises. They’re the kind of thing that a totally ordinary, not-athletic person wakes up one day and decides they’re going to do -- and then does.  In one of the most economically unequal countries in the world, extreme distance running is a sport that feels like it includes everybody. And improbably, that inclusiveness happened during one of the darkest, most divided moments in South Africa’s history – during the final years of apartheid. The Comrades

522- The Comrades

If you live in South Africa, you definitely know someone who runs ultra-marathons, probably lots of someones. Here, ultras are the stuff of a whole country’s new years resolutions and mid-life crises. They’re the kind of thing that a totally ordinary, not-athletic person wakes up one day and decides they’re going to do -- and then does.  In one of the most economically unequal countries in the world, extreme distance running is a sport that feels like it includes everybody. And improbably, that inclusiveness happened during one of the darkest, most divided moments in South Africa’s history – during the final years of apartheid. The Comrades

42:05

24 Jan 23

521- A Sea of Yellow

Back in 2017 we ran an episode about the history of Brazil's iconic, yellow national soccer jersey. We were reminded of that story during the recent world cup, and then again on January 8th as a mob of right wing rioters attacked the Brazilian capital, many of them wearing those iconic yellow shirts. Needless to say the story of the yellow jersey has taken some real twists and turns in recent years, so today we’re going to rerun the original story about the jersey’s origins, and then producer Emmett Fitzgerald is going to update us on everything that has happened since.A Sea of Yellow

521- A Sea of Yellow

Back in 2017 we ran an episode about the history of Brazil's iconic, yellow national soccer jersey. We were reminded of that story during the recent world cup, and then again on January 8th as a mob of right wing rioters attacked the Brazilian capital, many of them wearing those iconic yellow shirts. Needless to say the story of the yellow jersey has taken some real twists and turns in recent years, so today we’re going to rerun the original story about the jersey’s origins, and then producer Emmett Fitzgerald is going to update us on everything that has happened since.A Sea of Yellow

34:07

17 Jan 23

520- Mini-Stories: Volume 16

We’re kicking off the new year at 99pi with a fresh installment of mini-stories, including: what lies at the intersection of a street and a road; the most unlikely of theme parks; and the evolution of ancient alleyways in Beijing, China.Mini-Stories: Volume

520- Mini-Stories: Volume 16

We’re kicking off the new year at 99pi with a fresh installment of mini-stories, including: what lies at the intersection of a street and a road; the most unlikely of theme parks; and the evolution of ancient alleyways in Beijing, China.Mini-Stories: Volume

33:50

10 Jan 23

519- Balikbayan Boxes

This time of year, right in the middle of the holiday season, there's a beloved, frenzied tradition playing out in Filipino households all around the world, with which reporter Gabrielle Berbey is intimately familiar. A Balikbayan box is a huge cardboard box (often weighing over 100 pounds) that Filipinos living all over the world send to family members who are still living in the Philippines. The word Balikbayan literally means homecoming in Tagalog.Balikbayan Boxes

519- Balikbayan Boxes

This time of year, right in the middle of the holiday season, there's a beloved, frenzied tradition playing out in Filipino households all around the world, with which reporter Gabrielle Berbey is intimately familiar. A Balikbayan box is a huge cardboard box (often weighing over 100 pounds) that Filipinos living all over the world send to family members who are still living in the Philippines. The word Balikbayan literally means homecoming in Tagalog.Balikbayan Boxes

36:57

21 Dec 22

518- Mini-Stories: Volume 15

The whole conceit of this show is that if look at the world in the right way, you’ll see stories everywhere. Some of the stories are epic power struggles chronicling the construction of a famous skyscraper or the founding of a city; but other stories are more modest, smaller in scope and scale. We call those mini-stories and they're part of an ongoing, end-of-the-year tradition in which 99pi producers and friends of the show talk to host Roman Mars about something cool and fun that you can tell your friends or family about during a holiday get together.You’ll hear about a very, very long escalator! Beavers dropping from the sky!  We’ll hear from Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re nasty! Plus a visit from the queen! Mini-Stories 15: Volume 15

518- Mini-Stories: Volume 15

The whole conceit of this show is that if look at the world in the right way, you’ll see stories everywhere. Some of the stories are epic power struggles chronicling the construction of a famous skyscraper or the founding of a city; but other stories are more modest, smaller in scope and scale. We call those mini-stories and they're part of an ongoing, end-of-the-year tradition in which 99pi producers and friends of the show talk to host Roman Mars about something cool and fun that you can tell your friends or family about during a holiday get together.You’ll hear about a very, very long escalator! Beavers dropping from the sky!  We’ll hear from Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re nasty! Plus a visit from the queen! Mini-Stories 15: Volume 15

37:16

14 Dec 22

517- The Divided Dial

If you’ve ever flipped through the radio dial — not satellite, not podcasts, but good old-fashioned AM and FM radio — you may have noticed something. Right wing radio talk is everywhere.But the airwaves weren't always so dominated by such a narrow range of voices. Reporter and friend of the show Katie Thornton has the story of how talk radio has evolved (and perhaps devolved at times) over the past century, and what all of it means for the airwaves today.The Divided DialHear the rest of the the series from On the Media 

517- The Divided Dial

If you’ve ever flipped through the radio dial — not satellite, not podcasts, but good old-fashioned AM and FM radio — you may have noticed something. Right wing radio talk is everywhere.But the airwaves weren't always so dominated by such a narrow range of voices. Reporter and friend of the show Katie Thornton has the story of how talk radio has evolved (and perhaps devolved at times) over the past century, and what all of it means for the airwaves today.The Divided DialHear the rest of the the series from On the Media 

46:15

6 Dec 22

516- Cougar Town

Wildlife and urban development don’t usually go well together. Roads in particular fracture the habitats of wide-ranging animals. It restricts their movements and makes it harder for them to find food or a mate. But biologists and urban planners have started working together –- crafting a plan to try to help pumas move more safely around the city. And in the process this one cat, dubbed P-22, has turned into something of a celebrity—the symbol of a movement to redesign our cities and make the built environment more friendly to animals.Cougar Town

516- Cougar Town

Wildlife and urban development don’t usually go well together. Roads in particular fracture the habitats of wide-ranging animals. It restricts their movements and makes it harder for them to find food or a mate. But biologists and urban planners have started working together –- crafting a plan to try to help pumas move more safely around the city. And in the process this one cat, dubbed P-22, has turned into something of a celebrity—the symbol of a movement to redesign our cities and make the built environment more friendly to animals.Cougar Town

29:36

29 Nov 22

515- Super Citizens

Los Angeles' El Peatonito is part of a subset of real life superheroes who are more focused on things like picking up trash and taking on civic issues than catching criminals in alleys.These super citizens take their inspiration from comic books but in some ways have more ambitious goals than defeating a make believe villain. They are out to solve big societal problems. Wherever a city is plagued by traffic accidents, or people are living on the streets…these heroes heed the call of service. Super CitizensCheck out David Weinberg's brilliant series The Superhero Complex

515- Super Citizens

Los Angeles' El Peatonito is part of a subset of real life superheroes who are more focused on things like picking up trash and taking on civic issues than catching criminals in alleys.These super citizens take their inspiration from comic books but in some ways have more ambitious goals than defeating a make believe villain. They are out to solve big societal problems. Wherever a city is plagued by traffic accidents, or people are living on the streets…these heroes heed the call of service. Super CitizensCheck out David Weinberg's brilliant series The Superhero Complex

26:53

22 Nov 22

405- Freedom House Ambulance Service: American Sirens

When people ask me what my favorite episode of 99% Invisible is, I have a hard time answering. Not because they’re all my precious little babies or some such nonsense, but mostly it’s because I just can’t remember them all and there’s no simple criteria to judge them against each other. But the show is definitely in contention for the best episode we’ve ever made. It just has everything– engaging storytellers, brilliant reporting, and a compelling history of a moment when the world really changed. It’s called the Freedom House Ambulance Service. It originally aired in the summer of 2020, when a lot of the fundamental aspects of work, life, health, law enforcement, structural racism, cities were all being questioned by more and more people because of COVID and the George Floyd protests. Kevin Hazzard, who reported the piece, subsequently released a whole book on the Freedom House Ambulance Service  called American Sirens: The Incredible Story of the Black Men Who Became America's First Paramedics. It’s new, it’s out now, you should buy it. should read it, it should be on all your Christmas lists. To celebrate the book’s release, I’m proud to re-present to you: The remarkable story of the Freedom House Ambulance Service. 

405- Freedom House Ambulance Service: American Sirens

When people ask me what my favorite episode of 99% Invisible is, I have a hard time answering. Not because they’re all my precious little babies or some such nonsense, but mostly it’s because I just can’t remember them all and there’s no simple criteria to judge them against each other. But the show is definitely in contention for the best episode we’ve ever made. It just has everything– engaging storytellers, brilliant reporting, and a compelling history of a moment when the world really changed. It’s called the Freedom House Ambulance Service. It originally aired in the summer of 2020, when a lot of the fundamental aspects of work, life, health, law enforcement, structural racism, cities were all being questioned by more and more people because of COVID and the George Floyd protests. Kevin Hazzard, who reported the piece, subsequently released a whole book on the Freedom House Ambulance Service  called American Sirens: The Incredible Story of the Black Men Who Became America's First Paramedics. It’s new, it’s out now, you should buy it. should read it, it should be on all your Christmas lists. To celebrate the book’s release, I’m proud to re-present to you: The remarkable story of the Freedom House Ambulance Service. 

45:16

16 Nov 22

514- Train Set: Track Two

Funiculars are great, which is why the main image from our previous train episode featured one -- except we didn't actually talk about that one during the show. It's a cable car from Wellington, and as it turns out it's one of hundreds of funiculars in this city. Roman and Kurt are back with another series of railroad tales. All aboard!Train Set: Track Two

514- Train Set: Track Two

Funiculars are great, which is why the main image from our previous train episode featured one -- except we didn't actually talk about that one during the show. It's a cable car from Wellington, and as it turns out it's one of hundreds of funiculars in this city. Roman and Kurt are back with another series of railroad tales. All aboard!Train Set: Track Two

32:22

9 Nov 22

Articles of Interest: American Ivy

Articles of Interest is a show about what we wear. Host and producer Avery Trufelman investigates our collectively held beliefs about fashion and explores topics like the intellectual property law behind knockoffs, creation of tartan and the history of plaid, and how a dolls in a rural museum in Washington state saved French haute couture. This new season investigates a style that keeps coming back again and again and again.Previously part of 99% Invisible, the show is now an independent production and a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.

Articles of Interest: American Ivy

Articles of Interest is a show about what we wear. Host and producer Avery Trufelman investigates our collectively held beliefs about fashion and explores topics like the intellectual property law behind knockoffs, creation of tartan and the history of plaid, and how a dolls in a rural museum in Washington state saved French haute couture. This new season investigates a style that keeps coming back again and again and again.Previously part of 99% Invisible, the show is now an independent production and a proud member of Radiotopia from PRX.

37:06

2 Nov 22

513- The Safety Bicycle

The basic mechanics of the bike are pretty simple --- it’s basically a triangle with wheels and a chain drive to propel it forward. No batteries or engines. It seems obvious in hindsight .... And that’s why most people guess the bike was invented a long time ago. Yet the ‘running machine,' a kind of early proto-bike, debuted around 1817.For much more on the history of the bicycle, check out Jody Rosen's book: Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle. The Safety Bicycle

513- The Safety Bicycle

The basic mechanics of the bike are pretty simple --- it’s basically a triangle with wheels and a chain drive to propel it forward. No batteries or engines. It seems obvious in hindsight .... And that’s why most people guess the bike was invented a long time ago. Yet the ‘running machine,' a kind of early proto-bike, debuted around 1817.For much more on the history of the bicycle, check out Jody Rosen's book: Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle. The Safety Bicycle

33:17

25 Oct 22

512- Walk of Fame

Even if you haven't made the pilgrimage to Southern California, you can probably already picture what the Walk of Fame looks like. It's a 1.3 mile walkway lined with terrazzo and brass squares. Each slab spotlights a salmon-pink star, and the name of a different famous celebrity deemed worthy enough to become a permanent part of Hollywood's urban fabric. The Walk of Fame is the story of Hollywood, the film industry. and the very origin of stardom itself.Reporter/producer Gillian Jacobs (Community, Winning Time) takes us on a stroll on the Walk of Fame, which chronicles Hollywood history and the vicissitudes of fame itself.Walk of Fame

512- Walk of Fame

Even if you haven't made the pilgrimage to Southern California, you can probably already picture what the Walk of Fame looks like. It's a 1.3 mile walkway lined with terrazzo and brass squares. Each slab spotlights a salmon-pink star, and the name of a different famous celebrity deemed worthy enough to become a permanent part of Hollywood's urban fabric. The Walk of Fame is the story of Hollywood, the film industry. and the very origin of stardom itself.Reporter/producer Gillian Jacobs (Community, Winning Time) takes us on a stroll on the Walk of Fame, which chronicles Hollywood history and the vicissitudes of fame itself.Walk of Fame

47:20

18 Oct 22

511- Vuvuzela

The vuvuzela is a two foot long injection-molded plastic horn. It only plays one note: a B flat. And it gradually became a regular feature of South African soccer. But prior to the 2010 World Cup, the rest of the world had never heard anything quite like it.  Even people in the soccer world didn’t know what they were. But by the time the first game of the tournament was underway, vuvuzelas were all over. For critics, the vuvuzela was a relatively new, mass produced noisemaker. But supporters ended to think of the vuvuzela as an instrument, producing a loud, attention grabbing sound that grew out of South Africa's rich footballing tradition.Vuvuzela

511- Vuvuzela

The vuvuzela is a two foot long injection-molded plastic horn. It only plays one note: a B flat. And it gradually became a regular feature of South African soccer. But prior to the 2010 World Cup, the rest of the world had never heard anything quite like it.  Even people in the soccer world didn’t know what they were. But by the time the first game of the tournament was underway, vuvuzelas were all over. For critics, the vuvuzela was a relatively new, mass produced noisemaker. But supporters ended to think of the vuvuzela as an instrument, producing a loud, attention grabbing sound that grew out of South Africa's rich footballing tradition.Vuvuzela

32:12

11 Oct 22

Revisionist History- The Department of Physiological Hygiene

This is the story of an experiment. It’s from a show I love called Revisionist History, by bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell. This season he’s devoting every episode to experiments. There’s the experiment that brought iodized salt to our tables. Another episode looks at a kind of failed social experiment that could have reduced opioid overdoses. Anyway, it’s all fascinating — and the episode we want to share with you is no different.Malcolm has discovered a forgotten box of interviews in the archives of the Library of Congress. They tell the story of 36 men who, in 1945, spent a year in a dingy room under the school football stadium. They were part of an experiment none of them would ever forget. And people are still arguing about what happened decades later.This is part of a three-part series, and you can hear the rest, and more, by searching for Revisionist History wherever you get your podcasts.

Revisionist History- The Department of Physiological Hygiene

This is the story of an experiment. It’s from a show I love called Revisionist History, by bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell. This season he’s devoting every episode to experiments. There’s the experiment that brought iodized salt to our tables. Another episode looks at a kind of failed social experiment that could have reduced opioid overdoses. Anyway, it’s all fascinating — and the episode we want to share with you is no different.Malcolm has discovered a forgotten box of interviews in the archives of the Library of Congress. They tell the story of 36 men who, in 1945, spent a year in a dingy room under the school football stadium. They were part of an experiment none of them would ever forget. And people are still arguing about what happened decades later.This is part of a three-part series, and you can hear the rest, and more, by searching for Revisionist History wherever you get your podcasts.

31:01

7 Oct 22

510- Wickedest Sound

Jamaica is famous around the world for its music, including genres like ska, dub, and reggae. It’s tempting to think that the powerful amplifiers and giant speakers at the dance parties were designed to perfectly capture Jamaica’s indigenous sounds. But it’s actually the other way around. Those speakers and amps came first. And the electricians, mechanics and engineers who built and adapted that technology would then play a decisive role in the creation of Jamaica’s modern music. They helped pioneer approaches to making and performing music that would spawn whole other scenes from the Bronx to the UK.Wickedest Sound

510- Wickedest Sound

Jamaica is famous around the world for its music, including genres like ska, dub, and reggae. It’s tempting to think that the powerful amplifiers and giant speakers at the dance parties were designed to perfectly capture Jamaica’s indigenous sounds. But it’s actually the other way around. Those speakers and amps came first. And the electricians, mechanics and engineers who built and adapted that technology would then play a decisive role in the creation of Jamaica’s modern music. They helped pioneer approaches to making and performing music that would spawn whole other scenes from the Bronx to the UK.Wickedest Sound

42:01

4 Oct 22

509- Tale of the Jackalope

The magical mythical "jackalope" is a essentially a horned rabbit, with antlers of different sizes and shapes. The jackalope is a mascot of the American West – inspiring an absolute river of trinkets and songs and whiskies and postcards and tall tales.Tale of the Jackalope

509- Tale of the Jackalope

The magical mythical "jackalope" is a essentially a horned rabbit, with antlers of different sizes and shapes. The jackalope is a mascot of the American West – inspiring an absolute river of trinkets and songs and whiskies and postcards and tall tales.Tale of the Jackalope

34:14

28 Sep 22

508- President Clinton Interviews Roman Mars

On this special feature episode, President Bill Clinton interviews 99% Invisible host and creator Roman Mars.Roman Mars has spent his career chronicling these bits of human ingenuity that we so often take for granted—things like the utility codes, the curb cuts, the traffic signals, and much more. As host of the 99% Invisible and, with Kurt Kohlstedt, co-author of the book The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design, his work challenges all of us to look up and around, and to think about the how and the why of design around the world in a different way.Subscribe to Why Am I Telling You This? with Bill Clinton on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher

508- President Clinton Interviews Roman Mars

On this special feature episode, President Bill Clinton interviews 99% Invisible host and creator Roman Mars.Roman Mars has spent his career chronicling these bits of human ingenuity that we so often take for granted—things like the utility codes, the curb cuts, the traffic signals, and much more. As host of the 99% Invisible and, with Kurt Kohlstedt, co-author of the book The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design, his work challenges all of us to look up and around, and to think about the how and the why of design around the world in a different way.Subscribe to Why Am I Telling You This? with Bill Clinton on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher

49:12

20 Sep 22

507- Search and Ye Might Find

Adam Rogers has been thinking and writing about what’s known in the industry simply as "search." For the last decade, people have been grumbling about not being able to find things online, both in our private data and on the public web, despite ever-evolving algorithms. Ever since humans started writing stuff down, the struggle has been in how to organize it all so that its contents wouldn't be lost in the stacks. Search has always been an attempt to fix that problem.Search and Ye Might Find 

507- Search and Ye Might Find

Adam Rogers has been thinking and writing about what’s known in the industry simply as "search." For the last decade, people have been grumbling about not being able to find things online, both in our private data and on the public web, despite ever-evolving algorithms. Ever since humans started writing stuff down, the struggle has been in how to organize it all so that its contents wouldn't be lost in the stacks. Search has always been an attempt to fix that problem.Search and Ye Might Find 

36:12

14 Sep 22

506- Monumental Diplomacy

In downtown Windhoek, Namibia -- at the intersection of Fidel Castro Street and Robert Mugabe Avenue -- there's an imposing gold building with an affectionate nickname: the Coffee Maker. This notable structure was built to commemorate Namibia’s fight for independence from apartheid South Africa, which it achieved in 1990. And for many of the visitors, the museum feels like a huge achievement. But for a museum that commemorates throwing off the chains of colonialism and forging a new era of self-determination, it has one pretty strange feature. It wasn't designed by a Namibian architect. It wasn't even designed by an African architect. It was built by North Korea's state-run design studio, which has long been a prolific maker of statues around the world. North Korea has left a distinct visual stamp across Africa in particular, with museums and monuments erected in more than a dozen African countries since the 1970s.Monumental Diplomacy

506- Monumental Diplomacy

In downtown Windhoek, Namibia -- at the intersection of Fidel Castro Street and Robert Mugabe Avenue -- there's an imposing gold building with an affectionate nickname: the Coffee Maker. This notable structure was built to commemorate Namibia’s fight for independence from apartheid South Africa, which it achieved in 1990. And for many of the visitors, the museum feels like a huge achievement. But for a museum that commemorates throwing off the chains of colonialism and forging a new era of self-determination, it has one pretty strange feature. It wasn't designed by a Namibian architect. It wasn't even designed by an African architect. It was built by North Korea's state-run design studio, which has long been a prolific maker of statues around the world. North Korea has left a distinct visual stamp across Africa in particular, with museums and monuments erected in more than a dozen African countries since the 1970s.Monumental Diplomacy

36:25

6 Sep 22

505- First Errand

Back in March, Netflix picked up a long running Japanese TV program based on a children’s book from the 1970s. The show is called Old Enough, but the name of the original Japanese program translates to My First Errand. Because in each episode, a child runs an errand for the very first time. Episodes are only 10 to 20 minutes long, but in that short time a toddler treats the audience to a bite-sized hero's journey. My First Errand is a gimmicky show with hokey music and a laugh track, but it’s also rooted in a truth about Japanese society: most children are remarkably independent from a very young age -- way more independent than children in the US. In Japanese cities, fifth-graders make 85 percent of their weekday trips without a parent. And this remarkable child mobility is made possible by everything from the neighbors next door to the width of the streets.First Errand

505- First Errand

Back in March, Netflix picked up a long running Japanese TV program based on a children’s book from the 1970s. The show is called Old Enough, but the name of the original Japanese program translates to My First Errand. Because in each episode, a child runs an errand for the very first time. Episodes are only 10 to 20 minutes long, but in that short time a toddler treats the audience to a bite-sized hero's journey. My First Errand is a gimmicky show with hokey music and a laugh track, but it’s also rooted in a truth about Japanese society: most children are remarkably independent from a very young age -- way more independent than children in the US. In Japanese cities, fifth-graders make 85 percent of their weekday trips without a parent. And this remarkable child mobility is made possible by everything from the neighbors next door to the width of the streets.First Errand

28:58

30 Aug 22

504- Bleep!

There's a particular one-kilohertz tone that is universally understood to be covering up inappropriate words on radio and TV. But there are other options, too, like silence -- so why did this particular *bleep* sound become ubiquitous?Bleep!

504- Bleep!

There's a particular one-kilohertz tone that is universally understood to be covering up inappropriate words on radio and TV. But there are other options, too, like silence -- so why did this particular *bleep* sound become ubiquitous?Bleep!

31:54

23 Aug 22

Listnr

Download the app to get the full experience

Get a fully curated daily feed based on your favourites, access to curated collections, preview every show, and much more.

Get it on Google Play
Download on the App Store
Get it on Google Play
Download on the App Store

You might also like