99% Invisible

99% Invisible is a radio show produced and created by Roman Mars that focuses on design and architecture.[1] It began as a collaborative project between San Francisco public radio station KALW and the American Institute of Architects in San Francisco. The show has been distributed by PRX for broadcasting on a number of radio stations and as a podcast on the Radiotopia network.[2] In April 28, 2021, Roman Mars announced in an introduction of a re-released episode that 99% Invisible had been purchased by Sirius XM and marketed as part of its Stitcher Radio brand.[3]

99% Invisible
Hosted byRoman Mars
UpdatesActive, weekly
Lengthunder 10 minutes in the first episodes, under 60 minutes in later years
  • Roman Mars (2010–present)
  • Sam Greenspan (2010–17)
Audio formatMP3
No. of episodes432 (as of February 2021) (list of episodes)
Original releaseSeptember 3, 2010 (2010-09-03) – present
RatingsAll audiences


The name of the show was derived from a quote by Buckminster Fuller that, "Ninety-nine percent of who you are is invisible and untouchable."[4] The goal of the show is to expose the unseen and overlooked aspects of design, architecture, and activity in the world. Each episode generally focuses on a single topic or specific example of design, often including interviews with architects, experts, or people who have influenced or been influenced by a given urban, industrial, graphic or other design.

In 2014, 99% Invisible began its fourth season, the first in which it had a weekly release schedule.[5]

2020 staff includes episode producers Katie Mingle, Delaney Hall, Christopher Johnson, Kurt Kohlstedt, Chris Berube, Emmett FitzGerald, Vivian Le, Joe Rosenberg and assistant producer Abby Madan. The musical composer is Sean Real and the VP of Strategic Development is Sofia Klatzker Miller.[6] Former staff include Sharif Yousseff[7][8][9] and Avery Trufelman. Trufleman left to host "Nice Try!" and "The Cut" podcasts.[10]

In April 2021 the company that produces the show (99% Invisible Inc.) was acquired by SiriusXM.[11]


Critical reception has generally been very positive, with the show garnering acclaim from many notable radio producers and media outlets. Ira Glass of This American Life described the show as "completely wonderful and entertaining and beautifully produced,"[12] and Jad Abumrad has said the show "has a kind of rhythm and musicality that you don’t normally find in radio or podcast storytelling."[13] In 2013, Yahoo! News included 99% Invisible on its list of "best podcasts you aren't listening to but should be,"[14] and Miranda Sawyer of The Observer highlighted the show, saying "it's just great."[15]

The creator and host of 99% Invisible, Roman Mars, was included in Fast Company's Most Creative People list of 2013 for his work on 99% Invisible,[16] and included on the Most Creative People in Business 1000 in 2014.[17]

As of January 2014 the show was listed with the top fifty podcasts of the iTunes Top Podcasts chart.[18] In 2014, the show had greater than 4,000 listener ratings on iTunes and upwards of 97% gave the show five stars.[19] The show's 2014 episode Structural Integrity was one of nine award winners at the 2015 Third Coast International Audio Festival.[20]

In 2017, 99% Invisible was named as one of the "50 best podcasts" by Time magazine.[21]

Guest hosts and collaborationsEdit

99% Invisible has produced a variety of episodes in collaboration with other producers and radio shows. "The Political Stage", episode 63, was a collaboration with Andrea Seabrook and DecodeDC that focused on the production of campaign trail events.[22] Episode 84B, called "Trading Places with Planet Money," was made with NPR's Planet Money podcast and discusses commodity trading in the context of the 1983 film Trading Places.[23]


Articles of InterestEdit

In September 2018, a spinoff series, from producer Avery Trufelman, was released with six episodes focused on the design of clothes. Articles of Interest was published as part of 99% Invisible. Another six episodes were released in June 2020.[24]


In October 2019, publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced the upcoming book The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design co-authored by podcasters Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt, describing it as "an examination of the design and architecture of our shared urban environs, featuring stories behind overlooked places and things we take for granted."[25] The book was released a decade after the podcast started.[26] The book was released in the fall of 2020.[27][28][29] The book consists of short stories on the history behind everyday urban features and architecture.[30] NPR radio host Lois Reitzes interviewed Roman Mars to discuss the book.[31] MPR radio host Kerri Miller interviewed Roman Mars to discuss the book.[32] Roman Mars recorded the audiobook version.[33] Christian Donlan of Eurogamer compared his experience with the book to a videogame, speaking to how both the appreciation of architecture and games require an being attuned to fine details, and both involve dynamic, complex systems.[34]


  1. ^ "About: 99% Invisible Is About All the Thought That Goes Into the Things We Don't Think About". 99% Invisible. PRX. 2014-01-31. Archived from the original on 2014-02-12. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  2. ^ Kowalczyk, Patrick; Alikhan, Anusha (2014-02-04). "PRX Launches Radiotopia, New Podcast Network of Story-Driven Public Radio Shows by Industry's Best Emerging and Established Talent" (PDF). Public Radio Exchange. PRX. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  3. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/26/arts/siriusxm-99-invisible-roman-mars.html
  4. ^ Belonax, Tim (2013-01-08). "99% Invisible: Roman Mars". Design Envy. AIGA. Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  5. ^ "Kickstart Season 4- Weekly!". 99% Invisible. PRX. 2013-10-23. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  6. ^ "About: The Staff". 99% Invisible. PRX. Archived from the original on 2020-11-24. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  7. ^ Uggetti, Paolo (2017-08-02). "Speeding up Your Podcasts Won't Solve Your Problems". The Ringer. Archived from the original on 2020-02-21. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  8. ^ Aloi, Zander (2016-11-27). "Growing up Arab American in West Virginia With Sharif Youssef". WVPB. Archived from the original on 2021-01-23. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  9. ^ Herman, Charlie; Press, Julia; Wyman, Sarah (2020-11-04). "The House That Sears Built". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 2021-01-23. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  10. ^ "Avery Trufelman: Host of the Cut and Nice Try!". Vox Media Podcasts Network. Vox Media. Archived from the original on 2020-12-17. Retrieved 2020-12-06.
  11. ^ Carman, Ashley (2021-04-26). "SiriusXM acquires Roman Mars' 99% Invisible and a bigger stake in the podcasting world". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-04-26.
  12. ^ "Roman Mars Is 99% Invisible". Eyes In. Eyes In. 2013-04-04. Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  13. ^ Harmon, Steph (2013-03-17). "Featured Podcast: 99% Invisible". Junkee. Junkee Media. Archived from the original on 2014-02-21. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  14. ^ Walker, Rob (2013-07-29). "The Best Podcasts You Aren't Listening to but Should Be". Yahoo News. Verizon Media. Archived from the original on 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  15. ^ Sawyer, Miranda (2013-05-25). "Rewind Radio: 99% Invisible". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media. Archived from the original on 2014-02-03. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  16. ^ Feifer, Jason (2013-05-13). "Most Creative People 2013: 63. Roman Mars". Fast Company. Fast Company. Archived from the original on 2014-02-14. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  17. ^ "Most Creative People in Business 1000: The Complete List". Fast Company. Fast Company. 2014-01-29. Archived from the original on 2014-02-17. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  18. ^ "iTunes Store". iTunes. Apple. Archived from the original on 2014-06-05. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  19. ^ "99% Invisible by Roman Mars". iTunes. Apple. Archived from the original on 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
  20. ^ "And the Gold Goes To". Third Coast International Audio Festival. Third Coast International Audio Festival. 2015. Archived from the original on 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  21. ^ Dockterman, Eliana (2017-03-30). "The 50 Best Podcasts Right Now". Time USA. Archived from the original on 2020-06-26. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  22. ^ "The Political Stage". 99% Invisible. 2012-12-10. Archived from the original on 2020-11-24. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  23. ^ "Ladislav Sutnar + Trading Places with Planet Money". 99% Invisible. 2013-07-16. Archived from the original on 2021-01-21. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  24. ^ "Articles of Interest". 99% Invisible. PRX. Archived from the original on 2019-12-01. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  25. ^ Mars, Roman (2019-10-03). "Roman Mars on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on 2019-10-04. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
  26. ^ Dudley, Joshua (September 2, 2020). "'99% Invisible' podcast host Roman Mars looks back at 10 years of uncovering design". San Francisco Arts & Entertainment Guide. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  27. ^ Jackson, Kenneth T. (2020-10-06). "The Hidden Wonders of a City, Made Visible". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2020-11-01. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  28. ^ Shapiro, Ari (2020-10-07). "In New Book, Roman Mars Celebrates Little Bits Of Design That Are Left Unnoticed". National Public Radio. Archived from the original on 2020-10-08. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  29. ^ Rachini, Mouhamad; Sturino, Idella (2021-01-11). "Roman Mars Spotlights Cool Urban Design Elements in His Book the 99% Invisible City". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 2021-01-12. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  30. ^ "Roman Mars turns the 99% Invisible city into a 100% visible book". KCRW. 2020-10-08. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  31. ^ "Book, '99% Invisible,' Explores The Hidden World Of Urban Design". 90.1 FM WABE. 2020-10-19. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  32. ^ "Uncovering the mysteries of everyday design with the hosts of '99% Invisible'". MPR News. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  33. ^ "Q&A: From Podcast to Print, Roman Mars Discusses The 99% Invisible City". Metropolis. 2020-10-09. Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  34. ^ Donlan, Christian (2020-10-17). "The 99% Invisible City has a surprising amount to say about games". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2021-01-23.

External linksEdit