99% Invisible

99% Invisible

United States

Design is everywhere in our lives, perhaps most importantly in the places where we’ve just stopped noticing. 99% Invisible (99 Percent Invisible) is a weekly exploration of the process and power of design and architecture. From award winning producer Roman Mars, KALW in San Francisco, and Radiotopia from PRX. Learn more: http://99percentinvisible.org Proud member of PRX’s Radiotopia.

Episodes

271- The Great Dismal Swamp  

On the border of Virginia and North Carolina stretches a great, dismal swamp. The Great Dismal Swamp, actually — that’s the name British colonists gave it centuries ago. The swamp covers about 190 square miles today, but at its peak, … Continue reading

270- The Stethoscope  

Imagine for a moment the year 1800. A doctor is meeting with a patient – most likely in the patient’s home. The patient is complaining about shortness of breath. A cough, a fever. The doctor might check the patient’s pulse … Continue reading

269- Ways of Hearing  

When the tape started rolling in old analog recording studios, there was a feeling that musicians were about to capture a particular moment. On tape, there was no “undo.” They could try again, if they had the time and money, … Continue reading

268- El Gordo  

In Spain, they do the lottery differently. First of all, it’s a country-wide obsession — about 75% of Spaniards buy a ticket. There’s more than one lottery in Spain, but the one that Spaniards are the most passionate about is … Continue reading

267- The Trials of Dan and Dave  

This is the story of an ad campaign produced for the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona. Perennial runner-up in the sports shoe category, Reebok, was trying to make its mark and take down Nike. They chose two athletes, plucked them … Continue reading

266- Repackaging the Pill  

Most people are familiar with at least one version of the birth control pill’s packaging — a round plastic disc which opens like a shell and looks like a makeup compact. But the pill wasn’t always packaged this way. The … Continue reading

265- The Pool and the Stream  

This is the story of a curvy, kidney-shaped swimming pool born in Northern Europe that had a huge ripple effect on popular culture in Southern California and landscape architecture in Northern California, and then the world. A documentary in three … Continue reading

264- Mexico 68  

The 1968 Olympics took place in Mexico City, Mexico. It was the first games ever hosted in a Latin American country. And for Mexico City, the event was an opportunity to show the world that they were a metropolis as … Continue reading

263- You Should Do a Story  

“You should do a story…” is the first line to a lot of the conversations you have when you work at 99pi. This week we look into a bunch of those stories suggested by our listeners and present them to … Continue reading

262- In the Same Ballpark  

In the 1992, the Baltimore Orioles opened their baseball season at a brand new stadium called Oriole Park at Camden Yards, right along the downtown harbor. The stadium was small and intimate, built with brick and iron trusses—a throwback to … Continue reading

Intro to a new Roman Mars podcast: What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law  

Special introductory episode to a new podcast produced by Roman Mars and Elizabeth Joh. Professor Elizabeth Joh teaches Intro to Constitutional Law and most of the time this is a pretty straight forward job. But with Trump in office, everything … Continue reading

199- The Yin and Yang of Basketball  

In 1891, a physical education teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts invented the game we would come to know as basketball. In setting the height of the baskets, he inadvertently created a design problem that would not be resolved for decades to … Continue reading

261- Squatters of the Lower East Side  

In 1987, three years after moving to New York City, Maggie Wrigley found herself on the edge of homelessness. She was trying to figure out where to stay, when she heard about an abandoned tenement building on the Lower East … Continue reading

260- New Jersey  

The Brazilian soccer shirt is iconic. Its bright canary yellow with green trim, worn with blue shorts, is known worldwide. The uniform is joyful and bold and seems to capture something essential about Brazil. But it was not always this … Continue reading

259- This Is Chance: Anchorwoman of the Great Alaska Earthquake  

This episode was recorded live as part of the Radiotopia West Coast Tour. It was the middle of the night on March 27, 1964. Earlier that evening, the second-biggest earthquake ever measured at the time had hit Anchorage, Alaska. 115 people died. Some … Continue reading

258- The Modern Necropolis  

In the town of Colma, California, the dead outnumber the living by a thousand to one. Located just ten miles south of San Francisco, Colma is filled with rolling green hills, manicured hedges, and 17 full size cemeteries (18 if … Continue reading

257- Reversing the Grid  

For most people, electricity only flows one way (into the home), but there are exceptions — people who use solar panels, for instance. In those cases, excess electricity created by the solar cells travels back out into the grid to … Continue reading

256- Sounds Natural  

In most wildlife films, the sounds you hear were not recorded while the cameras were rolling. Most filmmakers use long telephoto lenses to film animals, but there’s no sonic equivalent of a zoom lens. Good audio requires a microphone close to the source of the sound, which can be difficult and dangerous. And so many of the subtle movement sounds — a chimpanzee rustling through leaves, or a hippo squelching in the muck, or a lizard fleeing snakes — don’t come from animals at all. They’re made by Foley artists. Sound recordists and Foley artists go to great lengths to give us accurate and satisfying sounds. But both know that nature documentaries are not reality. As much as people want to believe it’s all real, nature documentaries are still movies, and they need a little movie magic just like any other film. Emmett FitzGerald reports. Sounds Natural Don’t forget: Radiotopia Live!

255- The Architect of Hollywood  

Los Angeles is rich with architectural diversity. On the same block, you could find a retro-futuristic Googie diner next to a Spanish-style mansion, sitting comfortably alongside a Dutch Colonial dwelling, all in close proximity to a Deconstructivist concert hall. In the golden era of Hollywood, in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, the new movie industry titans who flocked to L.A. had an opportunity to construct whatever style houses they wanted. After all, Los Angeles had a lot of open space to develop, and no unifying architectural style. And there was one particular architect who could make any kind of building and make it well: Paul Revere Williams. Avery Trufelman reports. The Architect of Hollywood Live in LA with Helen Zaltzman 4/14, use code “savethearts” for special $20 tickets Vote for Roman as “Best Host” in the Webby Awards Don’t forget: Radiotopia Live, May 8- 12!

254- Containers  

We’re based in beautiful downtown Oakland, CA which is a port city in the San Francisco Bay. Massive container ships travel across the Pacific and end up here. From miles away you can see the enormous white cranes that pull giant, uniformly-sized metal boxes off the ships. People say the cranes are the inspiration for the AT-AT walkers in The Empire Strikes Back, but that’s not true; it’s just a good story to tell as you pass by on the bridge. The port was the driving economic force in Oakland for many decades. Not so much anymore. Those big containers have something to do with it. When people started shipping things in standardized containers all kinds of inefficiencies in global shipping that had existed for hundreds of years were eliminated and the world changed forever. This the backdrop for the story that Alexis Madrigal is telling in his new eight-part documentary podcast series on “global capitalism, trade, and big-ass ships.” It’s called “Containers.” We’re featuring episode #3 in the series. Live shows! Los Angeles with Helen Zaltzman April 14, Arts for LA West Coast Tour May 8-12 Radiotopia Live

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