99% Invisible – The Containment Plan

“99% Invisible is a popular radio show and podcast about design, architecture and all the thought that goes into the things most people don’t even think about”(1) The show began as a Kickstarter project in July of 2012, and from then to now “5,661 backers pledged $170,477 to help bring this project to life”(1) The creator and host, Roman Mars, has said that he “wanted … everyone to feel like we really accomplished something incredible, instead of the constant call for donations where you don’t know if your couple of dollars matter”(2) The attitude of the host seems very appealing to potential listeners as Roman makes them feel important and tells them how their donation will matter and will make a difference.

What I noticed when listening to a certain episode called “The Yin and Yang of Basketball” was that the production quality of the show is very high shown with the way that sound effects are seamlessly implemented at relevant times. When the topic of Steph Curry was introduced, sound clips of commentators screaming his name after scoring for the Golden State Warriors. Every time Roman speaks, his words are carefully chosen and provide great detail to the show. “Presenter/producer Roman Mars has a warm, inclusive tone with interviewees and listeners, and the sound effects are well chosen”(3) This warm tone appeals to the listeners because the “assumption is that the audience understands what’s going on”(3) which means they will be more comfortable and immersed into the podcast due to the fact that they are listening to a subject they are passionate about.

The main technique that the people behind 99% Invisible used, aside from the promotional video, was ‘perks’. As the main overarching subject of the show is ‘Architecture and Design’ the perks were more focused towards the listeners with similar passions as the host; for example, the $15 reward is “Notebook: One of our custom designed 99% Invisible pocket-sized notebooks with grid paper inside. Cover selection randomly chosen by us.”(1) This tells me that the people with these similar passions about design would love this reward as it fits right into their interests.

This show would be very difficult to turn into a webisode series as the whole theme of the podcast is in the way sound is used “The stories are engaging and conversational, but have a precise sound design that is multilayered and tightly edited.”(1)  However, I believe that some of the episodes could be turned into webisodes, such as the Basketball one I listened to could be a one-off special.

Overall I enjoyed this podcast a lot, it was an interesting listen I will likely listen to more episodes in the future.


(1) Kickstarter. (2017). 99% Invisible: Season 3. [online] Available at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1748303376/99-invisible-season-3

[Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].

(2) Maly, T., Maly, T., Pardes, A., Stinson, E., Pierce, D., Stinson, E., Gonzalez, R. and Stinson, E. (2017). How 99% Invisible Will Change Public Radio. [online] WIRED. Available at: https://www.wired.com/2012/07/99-invisible/

[Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].

(3) Sawyer, M. (2013). Rewind Radio: 99% Invisible. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2013/may/26/99-per-cent-invisible-radio-review

[Accessed 29 Oct. 2017].



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s