99% Invisible is a sound rich, narrative podcast hosted by Roman Mars about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world. With approximately 500 million downloads, 99pi is one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes and is available on RadioPublic, via RSS and through other apps.
“Across a decade now, after more than 430 episodes, 99% Invisible still explains itself as a podcast about design. Which, as the cliché goes, is like saying Moby-Dick is a novel about whales. 99% Invisible, episode after episode, is really about the difference between what you see and a designer sees, what you see and an architect sees, what you see and an engineer sees.” — Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune
You can listen to 99pi, as they say, “wherever you get your podcasts,” and there’s a new episode every week. But if listening isn’t your thing, each episode has a print companion piece and 99pi also has a book titled The 99% Invisible City which hit the New York Times Best-Seller list the week of its release.
99% Invisible was started by Roman Mars as a project of KALW public radio and the American Institute of Architects in San Francisco. It has grown from a four minute spot on broadcast radio to an enormously popular podcast with listeners all over the world including, (according to our internal data), three in Antarctica. Hello, Antarctica! And where the show was once made by Roman alone his bedroom, it now includes a staff of fourteen, who make episodes both from an office in beautiful downtown Oakland, California and other locations around the world.
Two limited-run series have also been produced by members of the 99pi team. Articles of Interest, with host Avery Trufelman, explored the stories behind the clothes we wear; According to Need, hosted by Katie Mingle, looked at the system we have in the United States to address homelessness.
Our website, custom episode player and playlist system were created by the dynamic designer-and-developer duo known as Duck Brigade with help from Michael Waggoner and 99pi’s Digital Director, Kurt Kohlstedt, who also writes articles for the website.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where should I start listening? Guide me please!
Try starting with the ones below, or browse one of eight main categories (in the sidebar to the right). But, really, all of the past episodes are evergreen (that’s radio lingo for “they are never pegged to any date or time”) and they never repeat. So you should subscribe and then immediately download all the back episodes. You will be glad you did. Each episode gets better and better, no matter if you go backwards or forwards. It is amazing and impossible, but also true. Explore the archives or go see our staff favorites.
Can I pitch a story to 99% Invisible?
Yes! We welcome pitches and love hearing from our listeners. Got a great idea you’d like to share? Check out our pitch page for details!
How can I support the show?
We are very thankful for our loyal listeners. You beautiful nerds make this all possible! There are many ways to support 99% Invisible, including: buying 99% Invisible merchandise via our online store or getting a copy of our book The 99% Invisible City by Roman and Kurt.
You can also help support the show by spreading the word within your community. Please invite your friends, family and everyone you know (seriously, everyone) to listen, and be sure to share your favorite episodes online. We also encourage you to review 99% Invisible on iTunes.
A kind word can go a long way, and every little bit helps!
How can we air an episode of the show?
If you are a content manager at a radio station and would like to air an episode of 99pi, go here for standardized versions (4.5 minutes) or here for director’s cut versions (generally between 10 and 25 minutes). Contact us if you can’t find what you need.
What was it like to bootstrap the show?
Everything was originally located in Roman’s bedroom: “I *ahem* strategically keep clothes strewn around and pile papers and books to make the room soft and free from echo. My desk is next to the closet, so I took the door off and replaced it with a curtain. You don’t need nice stuff or a studio. You just need to work. If you are picturing me as Rocky Balboa in Rocky IV, working out in a Siberian cabin by chopping wood, while the evil Ivan Drago uses the state of the art facility and gets pumped full of steroids, that’s exactly how it is.”
What do the symbols on the 99pi challenge coin mean?
Get to know the stories behind the icons on the back of our challenge coin (clockwise starting at the top) by listening to Vexillionaire, The Fancy Shape, Good Bread, Perfect Security, U.T.B.A.P.H, Octothorpe, O-U-I-J-A and A Cheer for Samuel Plimsoll. And, from the front: Always Read the Plaque (Coin Check). Special thanks to designer Helen Tseng!
What are some other great podcasts?
Yes, we are also obsessed with podcasts. If you need some recommendations, you have come to the right place. Here are some of our favorites.