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

522- The Comrades

January 24, 2023 00:42:05 8.01 MB ( 32.5 MB less) Downloads: 0

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

521- A Sea of Yellow

January 17, 2023 00:34:07 6.93 MB ( 25.93 MB less) Downloads: 0

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

520- Mini-Stories: Volume 16

January 10, 2023 00:33:50 32.59 MB Downloads: 0

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

519- Balikbayan Boxes

December 21, 2022 00:36:57 35.57 MB Downloads: 0

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

518- Mini-Stories: Volume 15

December 13, 2022 00:37:16 35.89 MB Downloads: 0

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

517- The Divided Dial

December 06, 2022 00:46:15 44.51 MB Downloads: 0

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 

516- Cougar Town

November 29, 2022 00:29:36 28.53 MB Downloads: 0

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

515- Super Citizens

November 22, 2022 00:26:53 25.91 MB Downloads: 0

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

405- Freedom House Ambulance Service: American Sirens

November 15, 2022 00:45:16 43.56 MB Downloads: 0

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. 

514- Train Set: Track Two

November 08, 2022 00:32:22 31.18 MB Downloads: 0

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

Articles of Interest: American Ivy

November 01, 2022 00:37:06 35.73 MB Downloads: 0

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.

513- The Safety Bicycle

October 25, 2022 00:33:17 32.08 MB Downloads: 0

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

512- Walk of Fame

October 18, 2022 00:47:20 45.55 MB Downloads: 0

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

511- Vuvuzela

October 11, 2022 00:32:12 31.03 MB Downloads: 0

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

Revisionist History- The Department of Physiological Hygiene

October 07, 2022 00:31:01 29.9 MB Downloads: 0

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.