Mario Villalobos

SiriusXM Is Buying “99% Invisible”

  • Notes

Reggie Ugwu reporting in the New York Times:

For Mars, 46, giving up his company’s independence is a major professional and philosophical pivot. Joining SiriusXM means leaving Radiotopia — a network of creator-owned podcasts Mars co-founded with the public media company PRX in 2014 — which he has regularly championed in the credits of “99% Invisible” as the home of “the best, most innovative shows in all of podcasting.” Mars said he will give $1 million of the money he is earning from the sale of his company to support the rest of the Radiotopia roster, which includes smaller but well-known podcasts like “Criminal” and “Song Exploder.”

“I’ve been devoted to independent podcasting for a really long time, and I still believe that there’s a role for that in the world,” Mars said. “But my role right now is something different, which is to spend more time on the show and on making things that I love.”

I’ve been a fan of “99% Invisible” for a very long time, so of course I’m happy for Roman Mars and his team, especially after the last year, but part of me worries about the consolidation the podcast industry is experiencing right now. I trust Roman Mars enough to believe he thinks he’s making the absolute best decision for himself and his team, but I don’t know.

With the backing of Stitcher and SiriusXM, Mars said he hoped to continue producing ambitious work — without the strain of handling the financing himself.

“With a bigger company, I can do more things and not be fettered by the small business mentality,” he said. “Hustle less and make more.”

Artists need patrons, but will some part of his soul suffer because of this? Will he still have that fire now that he doesn’t have to worry about money? That’s really hard to say.

I do wish him luck, though, and I’ll keep listening.