About this project
We achieved the 10,000 Backer Challenge! Thank you, everyone! Thank you, MailChimp!
Thanks to the 10,500+ of you who make this show possible. We received the extra $20,000 grant from MailChimp because of an incredible surge of support on Thursday. I’ve long since run out of clever ways to express my gratitude. I have new empathy for the greeting card writers of the world.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll notice a pattern in the stretch goals of this campaign: fixing what's broken in the public radio system. Don't get me wrong-- I do this work because I love it, and it has been my privilege to be an independent radio producer for more than a dozen years. I am extremely lucky that I get to do this for a living.
However, there are things about the public radio system that need to change. One by one, our stretch goals have been addressing these issues. You’ve proven that the audience will reward innovation. You’ve provided health care stipends to our contract workers. You’ve ended the endless internship. It has been amazing to watch these goals get shattered so quickly, because I always knew that the right audience would consider these things to be important.
The time has come to replicate this across public radio. We’re creating Radiotopia.
For a couple years, I’ve been scheming with PRX to create a collective of exceptional radio shows that will push the boundaries of public radio. Modeled after 99% Invisible, we want to provide support for a select group of creator-driven, high-quality, entrepreneurial programs that will establish a path to success for the most talented audio producers. We call it Radiotopia.*
The most common question I’m asked, by far, is “What other podcasts do you listen to?” There are great ones out there and I want more. The hardest part of creating a new show is getting started and then getting enough audience and support to move into regular production. We want to provide a platform where the best producers can find an audience and flourish. That has always been my ultimate goal, and it’s time to get it done.
So here's the plan: pledges collected up to the $350,000 mark will go towards rounding out the 99pi 2014 budget: relocation money for our next hire, raising freelance rates, creating an experimental fund for us to try things that we haven't thought of yet, and also buying some new equipment (Avery is using Sam's computer from college and most of our gear is older than my boys).
Anything pledged beyond that threshold--$350,000--will go toward establishing a seed fund for programs in PRX’s Radiotopia.
Creating this support network helps 99% Invisible achieve long-term sustainability, and everyone will benefit from more great radio in the world. I kept thinking that an ecosystem of other 99% Invisibles would spring up after our initial success, and a few have, but not nearly enough. And the few programs out there are in constant risk of going away without a network to support them. So, let’s build it ourselves.
*The term “radiotopia” came from Julie Shapiro when she was at the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Many of the most creative, independent producers of public radio get together every year at the Third Coast Conference to find our community and explore our craft. Julie called this gathering and all the great plans we had for audio storytelling “radiotopia.” It’s a place where everything is radio and everything is really good.
Over $350,000- Start the Radiotopia program fund.
Over $400,000- Respect.
Over $500,000- Mad respect.
$590,808- Take down Planet Money as the highest-funded podcast on Kickstarter.
99% Invisible is a popular public radio show and podcast about design, architecture and all the thought that goes into the things most people don’t even think about.
The show started as a side project I made in my bedroom at night, and after two years of making the program, I turned to Kickstarter to see if I should keep it going. To my great surprise, the Season 3 fund-raising campaign broke all previous records for a journalism project on Kickstarter. We hired a producer (Sam Greenspan!), overhauled the website, grew the audience, and made the show better than it has ever been.
For Season 4, we want to Kickstart the next giant leap in the evolution of 99% Invisible:
We want to go weekly.
We're staffing up and going pro. This involves hiring more help (contract reporters, editors, a production coordinator, paid interns), moving into a proper office, and commissioning more stories. The 52 weekly episodes of Season 4 will start February 4, 2014 and run for one year.
We are making a new kind of public radio in a new way. I must admit, after the huge success and growth of the show in the last year, I thought the public radio decision-makers and granting institutions would really get behind 99% Invisible, but they are slow to act. It's OK, their deliberate nature is part of why we love them, but it means it is up to you to tell us if we should expand and make more. This is as public as public radio gets.
Our dream is to hire Sean Cole as a monthly contributor. Not only is he the best reporter in public radio, he also produced one of our favorite 99% Invisible stories, "Some Other Sign That People Do Not Totally Regret Life."
Our awesome new shirts were designed by Chop Shop and they will be fulfilling the t-shirt orders. We are only guaranteeing that they will arrive by January, but we will do everything in our power to get t-shirts to you by Christmas. After the campaign is over, you will get a Kickstarter survey that collects your t-shirt size and address. PLEASE COMPLETE and RETURN YOUR SURVEY RIGHT AWAY and we'll send out the first set of t-shirts before Christmas.
The story behind "Always Read the Plaque":
The story behind "Razzle Dazzle":
Last year's classic 99% Invisible logo t-shirt is back at a bit of a discount. Show your love for design radio with 100 squares on your chest. Logo designed by Stefan Lawrence.
Andy Mangold created a new series of three pocket-sized notebooks inspired by 99% Invisible episodes. Collect them all! Each with black line artwork and a one color accent layer. Final version may vary from what is pictured below. Each notebook contains 32 pages of grid-lined paper.
Steve McCarthy created a brilliant new poster/desktop image that combines a bunch of our favorite things on one stunning map. (19"x 27") Every pledge over $5 will receive the "Map of the City" digital wallpaper pack with this image optimized for various screen sizes and resolutions.
Stephen Wildish's "Architecture Alphabet" is back, plus we have a new "Designer" poster of world-changing designs. Final version may vary slightly from what is pictured below. (24”x36”)
99% Invisible patron saint and design maven, Debbie Millman, has a beautiful new book of illustrated essays and hand-lettered typography.
Get your message out to over 150,000 exceptional people: design professionals, architects, journalists, taste-makers and decision-makers from all over the world. An underwriting partnership with 99% Invisible will demonstrate that your company is very passionate about all aspects of design. During this campaign, underwriting spots are discounted and have lots of bonus prizes and goodies. Get in touch and we will work out all the details: firstname.lastname@example.org
As part of the "Two-of-everything" pack, I'll record something unique for you. It could be an outgoing voicemail message, or a favorite short story, video narration, anything under 30 minutes that doesn't make me cringe (I reserve the right to refuse the recording on moral or ethical grounds--e.g. I won't record the narration for your racist cult recruiting video). This is only for non-commercial use. Last year, people used this prize to great effect. I voiced cool videos for The Noun Project and Sing Statistics.
Producer for a day
Pick from a couple dozen potential days (we'll make something work) and we'll invite you into the 99% Invisible production. You'll sit in on a story meeting, critique whatever rough draft we have in process, go out to lunch (probably for pho, we love pho), and just hang out all day. Plus, you'll take home all the swag you see on this page. You just need to get yourself to Oakland.
The music in the video is courtesy of two great bands I love, Melodium and Les Savy Fav. Melodium has inspired more of my radio stories than any other artist in existence and Les Savy Fav is quite simply the greatest rock n' roll band alive. If you have spare money after this campaign, go buy an album or two. They will make your life better.
Risks and challenges
Going into weekly production is not easy for a highly-produced, completely independent show, but we think we've devised a production calendar that makes sense, if we have the proper resources to support it.
Season 4 is scheduled to start February 4, 2014 and end in January 2015.
Reward fulfillment is always a tough challenge for a small group that specializes in making radio, not shipping t-shirts, but this time we've partnered with people who are experts at getting merchandise to your door.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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