The Story Behind the 99PI Challenge Coin

So you finally got your 99% Invisible challenge coin, but are not quite sure what it all means. Before your next coin check, brush up on both sides of your newly-minted coin by listening to these ten excellent episodes from our archives. First, some context for the coin itself; next, the origins of the mantra on its front; finally, all eight symbols on the back, listed clockwise and starting at the top.

For 99PI fans, this is pretty damn cool (I am proud to say that I would pass a coin check). But this also serves as a great primer for the show as a whole.


IBSWTD’s Favorite Podcasts: Home of the Brave: ‘The Neighborhood’

There’s a new episode of I Better Start Writing This Down coming in four days, which means a few things:

1. There’s still enough time to listen to the most recent episode, ‘Miniature Boxes of Cereal.’
2. I need to make another IBSWTD Favorite Podcast pick.

Luckily, I’ve known what it would be for a couple of weeks now.

Scott Carrier is one of my Mt. Rushmore storytellers. He’s known for his work on This American Life, as he should be. He’s lived quite the life and somehow, lived to tell about it. And tell he does. He’s got one of the most distinctive voices I’ve ever heard—nasal and child-like and somber and melancholy and honest and—dare I say—happy. All at the same time. And his capital-V Voice as a writer is pretty damn distinctive as well. He’s always thinking and saying and relating unreasonable thoughts and ideas in the most reasonable of ways.

When I heard from Nick van der Kolk (the creator of Love + Radio, another outstanding source of stories and sound design) that Scott Carrier had started his own podcast, something that I’d always hoped he’d do, it was as close to a prayer being answered as an atheist can get.

‘The Neighborhood’ is the “weirdest” of the stories Carrier has released so far, a sound collage that makes perfect sense and none, all at the same time. IBSWTD owes a debt of gratitude to Scott Carrier. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty certain that, had I never come across Scott Carrier’s work, I might not be making my own little podcast of my own.


IBSWTD’s Favorite Podcasts: Radio Diaries: ‘Teenage Diaries Revisited: Melissa’s Story’

Having a podcast means getting other people to listen to your podcast. It isn’t easy. I’m always asking people to rate/review my show on iTunes, or tell a friend, or pledge a dollar or two on Patreon. I realized the other day that what I should also be doing is following my own advice by telling others about my favorite shows. So here’s my first IBSWTD’s Favorite Podcasts pick: the 3/10/15 episode of HowSound: ‘Teenage Diaries Revisited: Melissa’s Story.’ Here’s HowSound’s Rob Rosenthal, writing for

In 1996, Joe [Richman] produced Teen Diaries. He gave tape decks to teenagers to document their lives. The result, intimate portraits that, most likely, would have resulted in a very different piece had a producer been present during the field recordings. One of these diaries featured Melissa Rodriguez. It was called Teen Mom. Sixteen years later, Joe handed out recorders again to several of the original diarists, including Melissa.

A few things:

1. Radio Diaries, Richman’s podcast/radio show, is awesome. You should listen to all of the available episodes. ‘Walter the Seltzerman—It’s Not Easy Being Last’ and ’Strange Fruit—Voices of a Lynching’ come to mind as two of my favorites.
2. The Teenage Diaries Revisited series is also a must-listen. All of them, but especially the episode highlighted here.
3. HowSound, the podcast that is highlighting said episode, is also worth your time. It’s a little inside-baseball sometimes, but it’s worth it if nothing for the recommendations about other great shows.
4. Make sure you listen to the HowSound edition of ‘Teenage Diaries Revisited: Melissa’s Story’ that I’m linking to here, since you get to hear the story as well as an interview with Richman and Melissa.

So that’s my first IBSWTD’s Favorite Podcasts pick. I hope you enjoy it and if you do (or don’t) please feel free to let me know on my Twitter or the show’s Twitter.