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99% Invisible

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99% Invisible

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. Learn more at 99percentinvisible.org.

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Recent Episodes of 99% Invisible


583- The Lost Subways of North America

583- The Lost Subways of North America

Los Angeles actually used to have a massive electric railway system in the early 1900s, called the Red Car. Jake Berman, the author of The Lost Subways of North America, tells us about how, time after time, when North American cities seemed just inches away from having a robust, utopian future of fast, reliable, and convenient public transportation systems, something gets in the way. That thing is sometimes dysfunctional local politics, sometimes it’s bureaucracy. Sometimes it’s the way our infrastructure favors cars over mass transit, and too often, it’s racism.

583- The Lost Subways of Nor...

Episode 22 May 2024 26m and 26s


The Power Broker #05: Brandy Zadrozny

The Power Broker #05: Brandy Zadrozny

This is the fifth 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...

Episode 18 May 2024 2h, 11m and 53s


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

Episode 14 May 2024 40m and 20s


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. Bu...

Episode 7 May 2024 37m and 16s


579 BONUS- Towers of Silence: Vulture Conservation

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. B...

Episode 3 May 2024 32m and 18s


580- 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...

Episode 30 April 2024 56m and 15s


579- 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 whic...

Episode 23 April 2024 1h, 11m and 25s


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

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 m...

Episode 19 April 2024 2h, 39m and 33s


578- 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 his...

Episode 16 April 2024 44m and 43s


577- 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 A...

Episode 9 April 2024 35m and 18s

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