99pi Secret Staircases
Podcasts are quickly becoming my favorite medium. The length, quality, and subject matter all vary from one producer to the next. Roman Mars, the writer and producer of 99% Invisible has perfected a format that reaches out and firmly grasps my attention span. The stories that are diligently researched and storyboarded are always enrapturing.
The subject matter is never consistent and is always just vague enough so that I have no idea to what end the story will take me. Some of the podcasts focus on architecture, graphic design, board games (see recent Ouija board episode), materials, and on and on. As each piece of information is dealt through the headphones one becomes a little more vested in where the story is headed. Roman has mastered how to turn a twenty minute piece into a historical recollection that sticks to your bones.
This particular tale speaks to a curious network of staircases that go unnoticed throughout the urban fabric of San Francisco. Although I am a midwesterner I found inspiration in the adventurous spirit to not only discover the numerous instances of the staircases but also digging into the signage and historical information behind the concrete connectors. This curiosity pushes me to turn and at least look down all of those alleys that lay between our Columbus urban setting.
When I first stumbled upon 99pi I binge listened to thirty or forty in a row. At the time the consistency of episodes was not present and I was constantly wondering when I was going to next learn about the evolution of sporks, or wherever else Roman may take me. Recently he and his team have acquired backing through Kickstarter to produce weekly episodes to my audio avail. These now weekly design education escapes prod me to look at my city and it’s elements in a different light. To be critical and think about the origins and reasoning behind many of the things that may typically be 99% Invisible.