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We are a collective of amazing storytelling radio shows. Let's remake public radio together.
We are a collective of amazing storytelling radio shows. Let's remake public radio together.
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21,808 backers pledged $620,412 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$620,412

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UPDATE: We "leveled up" and we’re so excited to add Criminal, The Heart, The Allusionist (Helen Zaltzman's new show), and now Mortified to the collective. For Radiotopia - and all of radio - to be the best it can be, we need to find even more people who are not currently on our radar.

So we have a big idea. At $600,000, Radiotopia will create a pilot development fund to find new, talented producers and hosts. We will specifically seek out new voices to pilot programs that tackle subjects not well covered in traditional public media.

Quality will always be our first criteria. I believe diversity of people and perspectives is the key component to quality that’s too often neglected in media.

We are interested in producers who pilot their own program, as well as contribute stories to existing Radiotopia shows.

Bringing in new voices and broadening the audience are critical steps in remaking public radio. Our collective of shows is already proving that incredible talent exists in unexpected places, and that we have a knack for finding it.

If you believe in this mission, kick in another buck or two, or just spread the word.

***The Hover 20,000 Backer Challenge***

We did it! Thank you so much for being one of the 20,000 and helping us get the extra $25,000 from Hover. Look what we did together!

"[A] kind of Justice League for smart documentarians and sound artists."

--Bill McKibben

This is Radiotopia. I'm Roman Mars.

Radiotopia became a reality in November 2013, when I called on the backers of the last 99% Invisible campaign to fund "a new kind of public radio." Radio full of the most compelling stories imaginable, made by a group of talented creators combining their energies to grow their audiences and thrive. 

People - probably many of you - rallied beyond our wildest dreams. It was an awe-inspiring moment, the realization that the heart of a radio fan can grow to make room for many deserving shows. Together with PRX, we’ve taken that love, trust, and money to bring together a collective of the best storytelling shows on the planet.

These shows make you laugh, cry, cringe, remember, reflect, strive, despair, relax... everything. 

As if that weren’t enough, as members of Radiotopia, they are reimagining radio from broadcast to digital, and the life of a creator from starving to sustainable. Radiotopia is bringing a listener-first, creator-driven ethos to public radio.

In just a few months, we have built a true collective of indie producers who share editorial, business, and emotional resources. It’s not just an amazing group of podcasts, it’s an amazing group of people. And we’re getting somewhere:

  • The Radiotopia Network has increased downloads by 165% since our launch nine months ago.
  • Two shows have more than quadrupled their audience.
  • 99% Invisible, which had the biggest audience to begin with, has grown by 135%.

The dream is alive, but our work here is far from done

To take it to the next level, we need you. Podcasts need about 50,000 downloads per episode for some measure of financial sustainability. Radiotopia wants our existing shows to blow through that number. That takes more gear, more staff, more travel, more branding and promotion. Our shows are not just two people chatting in front of microphone (not that there's anything wrong with that - I love a lot of those shows); they are skillfully crafted, sound-rich productions. That commitment to craft requires a lot of time and resources.

Your Kickstarter pledge will support all the shows in Radiotopia and ensure that all of us will continue to produce our best work.

We also want to invite more shows into Radiotopia. A win-win-win for us, for deserving creators, and for you, our fans and listeners. Your support will make that happen.

 The Rewards

Radiotopia Ringtones

All the shows in Radiotopia are contributing to a set of awesome and awesomely weird ringtones/alert tones. Sample:

Strangers Pen-Pal Letterhead

Print-your-own Strangers letterhead and gain a stranger pen-pal, assigned to you by Lea. (Pen-pal part is optional.) Both letterhead AND the pen-pal are included at all levels $10 and above.

Strangers digital letterhead, comes with pen-pal (if you want one).
Strangers digital letterhead, comes with pen-pal (if you want one).

Melodium: 99 Digital LP

Melodium (Laurent Girard) has inspired and scored more of 99pi's radio stories than any other artist. Girard has created an exclusive, new digital album just for this Kickstarter, called "Melodium: 99." Sample track:

Love + Radio Remix album

New electronic music sourced from past L+R episodes and made into something wondrous. Sample track:

Signed copy of Hidden Kitchens book by The Kitchen Sisters, producers of the Fugitive Waves podcast. Alice Waters wrote the foreword. Word.

Love + Radio "Another Planet" Poster

Screen-printed 11x17

L + R Another Planet
L + R Another Planet

 T-shirts. Lots.

99% Invisible Logo t-shirt- available in Men & Women sizes
99% Invisible Logo t-shirt- available in Men & Women sizes
Radiotopia logo t-shirt available in Men and Women sizes
Radiotopia logo t-shirt available in Men and Women sizes
The Truth t-shirt available in Men and Women sizes
The Truth t-shirt available in Men and Women sizes
Radio Diaries t-shirt
Radio Diaries t-shirt
Strangers women’s t-shirt (one of the available colors). Designed by Matt Jeans.
Strangers women’s t-shirt (one of the available colors). Designed by Matt Jeans.
Strangers mens t-shirt (one of the available colors)
Strangers mens t-shirt (one of the available colors)
99pi Black "Holdout" t-shirt- available in Men & Women sizes
99pi Black "Holdout" t-shirt- available in Men & Women sizes
99pi Army Holdout" t-shirt- available in Men & Women sizes
99pi Army Holdout" t-shirt- available in Men & Women sizes

NEW: Just added a new "army" color option for the Holdout t-shirt. You will be able to specify size, color, and t-shirt selection (for any multipacks) in the Kickstarter survey sent out after the campaign ends. 

Theory of Everything t-shirt design
Theory of Everything t-shirt design
99% Invisible "Ray Cats" Baseball T- available in Men & Women sizes
99% Invisible "Ray Cats" Baseball T- available in Men & Women sizes

NOTE: The 99pi "Ray Cats" shirt CAN BE included in any of the t-shirt packages (e.g. "Two t-shirts of your choosing..."), so feel free to increase that pledge for more great Radiotopia apparel. You get a deal for being so generous!

Mugs

NOTE: When you order the Mug for $45, you'll also receive all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones. 

Radiotopia favorites collection, plus incredible headphones.

We'll send you a little mp3 player packed with our favorite episodes. But keep the earbuds in your pocket, because you'll also get these gorgeous Radio Silenz headphones by Tivoli, with travel case. Special thanks to Tivoli for donating!

Radio Silenz headphones by TIvoli. In Walnut, Black, or Cherry.
Radio Silenz headphones by TIvoli. In Walnut, Black, or Cherry.

DIY Handbook by Radio Diaries

A storytelling guide for making your own radio diaries. (Not the final cover, but close)
A storytelling guide for making your own radio diaries. (Not the final cover, but close)

99% Invisible 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. You just need to get yourself to Oakland.

Check out the sidebar for lots of other great rewards, such as lunch with the Kitchen Sisters, Theory of Everything, or Radio Diaries, online mentoring sessions, live events and so much more!

Risks and challenges

Radiotopia "Season 2" is scheduled to start February 3, 2015 and end in January 2016.

We are a collective of individually owned and operated programs, so each of us have individual challenges and goals. As such, it's hard to achieve milestones at the same rate and produce results on the same timeline. Of course, a lot of these risks would be mitigated by us raising a record-setting amount of funds and we can all devote all our energy solely to our radio shows! That sounds like a good idea.

Reward fulfillment is always a tough challenge for a small group that specializes in making radio, not shipping t-shirts, but we've partnered with people who are experts at getting merchandise to your door.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Radiotopia Ringtones. A pack of several ringtones made by all the Radiotopia programs.

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    Print-your-own Strangers digital letterhead. Strangers' producer Lea Thau will also assign stranger pen-pals to the adventurous among you. Plus, Radiotopia ringtones.

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    Melodium: 99. Exclusive digital LP from 99% Invisible musical mainstay Melodium. All new songs from Roman's favorite band for scoring radio stories. Plus, everything above.

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    Love + Radio Remix digital album: electronic music sourced from past L+R episodes and made into something wondrous. Plus, everything above.

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    "Hidden Kitchens" signed by The Kitchen Sisters with a foreword by Alice Waters. Stories and recipes based on The Kitchen Sisters' Hidden Kitchens series on public radio. Plus, everything above.

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    Love + Radio's "Another Planet" poster. Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones.

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    The 99% Invisible logo t-shirt.

    Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones.

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    Radiotopia Mug. Sip a warm beverage and contemplate the greatness of radio. Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones.

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    The Truth t-shirt.
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    Strangers t-shirt.
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    Radio Diaries t-shirt.
    Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones.

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    Theory of Everything t-shirt designed by comics artist Michael DeForge.
    Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones.

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    Radiotopia logo t-shirt. Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones.

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    "Holdout" 99% Invisible t-shirt. Perfect for anyone who doesn't take crap from anyone else. Steadfast. Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    "Oakland Ray Cats" 99% Invisible baseball tee, inspired by our "Ten Thousand Years" episode. Doesn't actually change color near a radiation leak, so be careful. Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Two t-shirts of your choosing. Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones. We'll send you a survey after the campaign is over to get which shirts and sizes you want.

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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    RADIOTOPIA FAN PACK. One t-shirt of your choice + Love + Radio's "Another Planet" poster + a Radiotopia logo mug. Put the t-shirt on and sip tea while contemplating the poster. Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones. We'll send you a survey after the campaign is over to get which shirt and size you want.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Three t-shirts of your choosing. Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones. We'll send you a survey after the campaign is over to get which shirts and sizes you want.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Record up to 15 seconds of clean and legal(ish) spoken word and we'll put it in an upcoming Love + Radio episode. A shoutout to friends or family? A short poem? Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    The Truth names a character after you in an upcoming episode. As long as your name doesn't violate FCC rules. Oh wait, we don't care, we're a podcast. Plus all the digital gifts: L + R album, Melodium album, Strangers letterhead, ringtones.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Attention true fans and radio makers: A one-hour online podcast mentoring session with one of the Radiotopians. Workshop a piece or pick our brains on podcasting in general. You'll also receive a one-year membership to PRX. Each Radiotopia program has agreed to a single mentoring session. Mentors will be assigned randomly.

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    You: "I could make a Radiotopia show!" Us: Not so fast, friend. First break open the Radio Diaries DIY Handbook, then do some close listening with a pair of Radio Silenz headphones by Tivoli. Now you're on the right path. Thanks to Tivoli for donating.

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    By popular demand, we added a second set of mentoring sessions! Attention true fans and radio makers: A one-hour online podcast mentoring session with one of the Radiotopians. Workshop a piece or pick our brains on podcasting in general. You'll also receive a one-year membership to PRX. Mentors will be assigned randomly.

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    It would take you years of listening to catch up on all Radiotopia episodes. Let us curate. We'll send you a tiny mp3 player loaded up with our faves, and a pair of Radio Silenz headphones by Tivoli (with travel case) to listen with. So beautiful you might keep them on even after you're done. Thanks to Tivoli for donating them.

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    Pledge $550 or more About $550

    THE ULTIMATE RADIOTOPIA EVERYTHING PACK. Pick any six shirts + Hidden Kitchens book + Love + Radio Poster + Radiotopia mug+ The Radio Diaries DIY Handbook + L+R album + Melodium album + Strangers letterhead + ringtones. Phew. We'll send you a survey after the campaign is over to get which six shirts and sizes you want.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Four hours of one-on-one story or pitch coaching with Strangers' Lea Thau, former Executive Director of The Moth in Los Angeles. Lea has worked one-on-one with Marc Maron, Ethan Hawke, Malcolm Gladwell, Margaret Cho, and hundreds of others on their stories, and has coached execs of Fortune 500 companies. She usually charges a lot more. Plus, we'll throw in a Radiotopia Fan Pack.

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    The Truth will make a story inspired by one of your life experiences and release it on the podcast.

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    Be a 99% Invisible producer for a day! Come to the office, chime in during the story meeting, listen to the rough cut of whatever we're working on, and go out to lunch with us. You have to get yourself here and find a place to stay. We'll select several dates for you to choose from to make it fit your schedule.

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    Reward no longer available 7 backers
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    One Kitchen Sister for a day: your pick, an interview, editing, sitting in on a mix, any aspect of production you want to be part of. You have to get yourself to San Francisco and find a place to stay. We'll select several dates for you to choose from to make it fit your schedule.

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    Pledge $1,750 or more About $1,750

    Dinner for two at a secret table in one of the world's best "hidden kitchens," at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. An invitation-only table right in the heart of the kitchen. Enjoy Alice Waters' famous cuisine with your own guest or with one of the Kitchen Sisters. Travel and lodging not included. Leave with a nourished soul, delicious cooking tips, and a copy of the Hidden Kitchens book.

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    Pledge $3,500 or more About $3,500

    Thank you message for your company on all Radiotopia shows (over 1M downloads / month). Please contact sponsor@radiotopia.fm for details.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Storytelling workshop for your company or group w/ Strangers' Lea Thau, former Executive & Creative Director of The Moth. Lea has taught storytelling at Google, Nike, Tiffany & Co, and many, many others, and she has never had an unhappy client. Travel and expenses not included.

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    Live 99% Invisible presentation for your group or company anywhere in the world. Roman's transportation and lodging are additional, unless you're in the San Francisco Bay Area. Note: this is about 1/2 the price of what it would cost outside of the Kickstarter campaign, so grab it now! Email to discuss details: roman@prx.org. Plus, we'll throw in the Radiotopia Everything Pack.

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Funding period

- (31 days)