20 Questions with Roman Mars
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Roman Mars makes radio. He created the podcast 99% Invisible, about the unseen design work that shapes our lives. Most recently, he's been one of the driving forces behind Radiotopia, a hub for incredible, story-based audio broadcasting. Last week, with the support of 21,808 backers, Radiotopia became Kickstarter's most-funded Publishing project of all time. We caught up with Roman and asked him to answer some random questions; we heard about exercise, his iPhone, and Minor Threat.
Tell us about the last great meal you had:
I went to dinner in Las Vegas with the team from Sound Opinions (who are surprising foodies). They knew the chef at this super fancy restaurant, and we didn’t order, but just got sent a little bit of everything on the menu and stuff that wasn’t on the menu. It was so amazing and weird. I felt like a working class interloper in a world I didn’t even know existed. I think I ate organs. I have no idea.
First movie you saw in the theater:
The first one I remember was Blue Lagoon. I was five. I had a single mom and irresponsible secondary care givers.
Small thing you can’t live without:
My fucking iPhone.
An experience you’ll never forget:
I’ll never forget my twins being born, of course. I remember the doctor holding up the first one (Mazlo) and he was all gray and slimy, like a little zombie baby. He’s now obsessed with zombies. Coincidence?
Music you loved as a teenager:
DC hardcore punk e.g. Minor Threat. Still love it. Still straight edge.
How do you start each morning?
I take my boys to school and then work out in the park. I suppose the FIRST, first thing I do is roll over and check Twitter.
Right now it’s Kickstarter; I can’t stop refreshing over and over. I’m pretty fond of a crossword game called Bonza, too.
What’s your computer desktop/phone lock screen?
A picture of my boys, Mazlo and Carver. My big handsomes.
First book you remember being really affected by:
I can’t remember the first, but the book dearest to me is Moon Palace by Paul Auster. I’ve never read someone capture my own brand of willful self destruction so accurately and vividly. It also tells a story within a story, which is the literary equivalent of radio. I love stories told by characters in stories.
What do you carry with you every day?
My fucking iPhone.
Favorite place to eat:
Every Friday I get La Val’s pizza in Berkeley. It’s a family ritual. We call it “Pizza Shabbat."
Place you wish everyone could visit:
The Golden Gate Bridge. The greatest human-made structure of all time.
Last idea or factoid you came across that stayed in your brain:
That a factoid is something that resembles a fact, but is not necessarily true. Someone corrected my usage on Twitter and I was totally shocked.
Person in your field whose career/life/work you admire:
Jesse Thorn continually amazes me.
Who did you learn the most from?
My mom is the source of all the good in me.
Favorite thing about the place you live:
I live in the Berkeley hills and I can see the whole Bay Area and the bridges and I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to live here.
Favorite personal item of clothing:
I have black Indy boots that might be the nicest things I own.
Favorite time of day and why:
At 9:30am I exercise and no one can reach me. I also enjoy 11pm - 1am quite a bit, but these days I’m often working then.
Favorite thing to work with:
Sound and solitude.
Last thing you made:
Episode 139 of 99% Invisible. Actually, my producer Avery Trufelman made almost all of it, but I tinkered with it last, so it counts!