The Becktator: 100% Interested in “99% Invisible”

Do you remember Mary Poppins’ bizarre little handbag? How it seemed so small, but she kept pulling more and more stuff out of it? That’s kind of what this podcast is like. For the last few weeks, I’ve been listening to a program called “99% Invisible.” Only about twenty minutes long, the installments of this show are nice and bitesize, yet contain ample information. The episodes feature factoids that perhaps you had never intended to consider, but are certainly better for knowing.

What I thought initially was that this podcast would be running a similar game to “This American Life” or “Radiolab”—telling the uncommon narrative. But after joining in for a few episodes, would I equate it with the other story-telling podcasts I listen to? No, not really.

That being said, I definitely don’t want you to think that I’m tossing this one aside as airwave litter. I’m certainly not. This program is just inherently different from the others. Many of the seemingly obscure facts that are featured on this show are actually quite pertinent and underrated social histories, and therefore become wormholes into human experience. Examples of the stories featured on “99% Invisible” include how the three point shot in basketball came to be, and what it was like to take a road trip during the Jim Crow era. Not universally day to day conversations, but nevertheless important and relevant.

And the more I learn about the backstory of 99PI, the more impressed with it I become. The host, Roman Mars, started off producing this show in his bedroom. And even now with its rising popularity, it still gets all of its financial support from independent sources. To me, that’s admirable. To you, I’d say go ahead and give it a listen.